Brussels, May 27th, 2021 – Nothing much seems to have changed on the streets of Europe since the EU Crisis Summit in 2004, prompted by a sudden spike in anti-Semitism and called together by then EU Commission President Romano Prodi, when the late Holocaust survivor and Nobel laurate Elie Wiesel complained that it was still only Jewish leaders who reacted against the rising scourge of anti-Semitism. “Where are all the others”, he asked. Seventeen years on and the question still stands, ”where are all the others”?
“During a tumultuous year marked by large scale demonstrations against what is seen as structural racism it is remarkable but tragic that there are still no mass demonstrations to fill our streets in protest against this oldest of hatreds – anti-Semitism”, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell said on Thursday.
Already in 2015 French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy warned that whereas the anti-Semitism of the 1930´s was primarily led by a government, the National Socialists in Germany – today’s anti-Semitism is a transnational spontaneous grassroots movement and all-the-more insidious and harder-to-tackle as a result. Despite all efforts to combat this new wave of anti-Semitism it is only growing stronger. In the last two weeks, ignited by the recent conflict between Israel and terrorist organisation Hamas, we have seen a dramatic rise in violence against Jews spreading fear in Jewish communities around the world, from the burning of a synagogue in Israel to physical attacks in major cities in Europe and the US. In London a caravan of cars drove through a Jewish neighbourhood last week chanting “F***k the Jews, rape their daughters.” Four people were later arrested and the incident was strongly condemned by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But as Sandell observes:
“What is most shocking in this current climate of hatred is not only the violence in itself but the fact that there is still no public outcry, neither on social media nor any mass demonstration on our streets. Why is it that Jewish lives still do not matter?”
And while some European government leaders have spoken out against this new wave of Jew hatred, others have stood silent and some have even fuelled the hate, unintentionally or otherwise. On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned against Israeli apartheid if there is no breakthrough in the stalled peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in a near future, hence amplifying the baseless chants in the anti-Israeli demonstrations calling Israel a racist state.
The Interior Minister Gérard Darmanin on the other hand has banned demonstrations against Israel in fear of uncontrollable violence similar to what happened in Jewish quarters of Paris in 2014 when angry mobs ransacked Jewish businesses and properties.
Still in other parts of Europe mass demonstrations are allowed, despite the current social distancing regulations, where Jews are openly compared to Nazis and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state are heard while those openly expressing solidarity with the Jewish state are being contained and even taken away by the police as a “safety measure.”
In a letter to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday ECI warned against more anti-Semitism if nothing is done to counter the current rise of Jew hatred. “Seventeen years ago the European Commission convened a Crisis Summit to deal with the rise of Jew hatred which indirectly led to the formation of European Coalition for Israel”, the letter reads. “Still after all these years we are the only non-Jewish organisation accredited to the EU with a clear objective both to combat anti-Semitism and promote good relations between Europe and Israel. Now is the time to come together and strengthen this “coalition of all the others”, called for by the late Elie Wiesel in 2004. There is an urgent need to mobilise all relevant stakeholders – from social media influencers, journalists and PR-agencies to thought leaders and community organisers to stem the current tide of anti-Semitism. Silence is not an option. A new Crisis Summit is needed as a matter of urgency to step up the fight against anti-Semitism. This must now be a top priority for the European Commission, for only by doing so will the soul of Europe be preserved.”