Brussels, December 11th, 2017 – The US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has caused angry reactions in government circles across Europe as well as anti-Semitic violence on the streets in several European cities over the weekend.
“There is a clear link between verbal anti-Israeli statements in the cabinets of governments and physical anti-Semitic violence in the streets of Europe among those who share their dislike of the Jewish state”, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell said on Monday after a Molotov cocktail had been thrown into a synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Saturday night. The US decision had received especially harsh criticism in Sweden where Foreign Minister Margot Wallström called for a UN Security Council emergency meeting in New York on Friday to condemn the US move. In a separate tweet, former Swedish government minister and current MEP Marita Ulvskog called the decision “a declaration of war.”
“Words have consequences and can lead to action”, Sandell warned.
While protesters were hailing the Swedish Foreign Minister on the streets in Stockholm and Malmö they shouted “we will kill the Jews” without any reaction from the local police. In Gothenburg a group of masked men threw a Molotov cocktail into the local synagogue where young Jews were attending a party. The youth managed to escape to the cellar and the police were called to the scene, but the incident has caused an increased sense of fear among the Jewish communities across Scandinavia.
“Violent statements against Israel from leading politicians and biased media reports form a deadly cocktail which can easily spill over into street violence in societies where the Jewish state has been demonized for years and even church groups openly campaign for sanctions against Israel”, Tomas Sandell said.
“The State of Israel is not and should not be immune to criticism but when the action of a third party, in this case the United States, is automatically used to condemn Israel and the Jewish people, it is no longer acceptable”, he added.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström was quick to criticize the US unilateral recognition of Jerusalem on Thursday while forgetting that the first decision of her own government three years ago was to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state.
On Sunday she condemned the firebombing of the Jewish synagogue by saying that “there is no room for antisemitism in Sweden.”
“Statements of solidarity with the Jewish communities after an attack have little effect if leaders engage in anti-Israeli rhetoric in between incidents such as this”, Sandell noted.
The European Commission is increasingly concerned about the rise of antisemitism in Europe and has ordered a new survey on this issue for 2018. Already in 2013, before the current wave of terrorist attacks in Europe, as many as two thirds of those interviewed from Jewish communities across Europe acknowledged that they had experienced an increase in antisemitism.
In a joint statement on Monday afternoon in Brussels by First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans and European Commissioner Věra Jourová said, “We are shocked and outraged by the wave of anti-Semitic attacks and demonstrations that are spreading hatred against Jews in European cities over the last days. There can be no justification and we stand in full solidarity with the European Jewish communities in condemning these vile attacks in the strongest possible way.”