– A Europe where Jews are afraid is no longer Europe
Krakow, 27th January, 2015 – As the official commemoration events marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz came to a close on Tuesday evening, the European Coalition for Israel, together with the Jewish Community of Krakow, hosted a unique concert of commemoration in the Tempel Synagogue of Krakow, only an hour from Auschwitz.
The significance of seventy years and the current threats to Jews in Europe were the central themes of the introductory speeches.
In his welcoming word, ECI Chairman Harald Eckert turned to the host of the evening, Holocaust survivor and President of the Jewish community of Krakow—Tadeusz Jacubowicz, and publicly apologized for 1,800 years of Christian anti-Semitism in Europe, which culminated in the mass murder of 6 million Jews. “As a German and as a Christian, I want to ask for forgiveness,” he said.
The concert was part of an international conference that brought together Christian leaders from the whole world to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and to recommit themselves to standing with the Jewish people and the State of Israel at this critical time.
In his keynote speech, Executive Director David Harris of the American Jewish Committee shared his personal story of close family members who had to flee Europe simply because they were Jews. He asked, “What made the Jews so despicable that they had to be killed by the Nazis?”
Harris, who was part of the official American delegation at the Auschwitz commemoration, warned about being more concerned with dead Jews than the ones that are feeling threatened today after the deadly attacks in Toulouse, Brussels, and Paris. He also criticized those who refuse to see any connection between the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
He asked, “How many Jews could have been saved, if there had been a Jewish state in the 1930s?” When Hitler wanted to kick the Jews out of Germany, there was not nation willing to receive them. When the mass extermination of the Jews started a few years later, they still had no place to go.
The evening’s guest of honor—Minister of Multiculturalism for the Canadian government—Tim Uppal, reiterated the commitments of his government to stand with Israel and the Jewish people as they encounter new threats. He openly expressed his concern over the rise of new anti-Semitism. He called the campaigns to boycott Israel in the name of human rights a bigotry which is trying to make anti-Semitism acceptable to a new generation.
ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell quoted the new EU Foreign Policy Chief Frederica Mogherini, who recently said, “A Europe where Jewish parents are afraid to send their children to school is no longer Europe.” He went on to say that Europe would not be Europe if not for the Jewish contributions to our civilization over the last 3,000 years; Jews are not to be simply “tolerated” but celebrated, respected, and appreciated for who they are.
The main attraction of the evening was the KolorBach ensemble from Paris. The name of the group refers to the unique alliance between the Jewish tradition of Klezmer music and Bach. The concert, which was played for a full house of international guests and dignitaries, concluded with the Polish national anthem and the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah.