Brussels, January 24th, 2019 – ECI has called for a more coherent EU-policy to combat anti-Semitism, which must also include Jews living in Israel, in order to clamp down on the spread of anti-Semitism in Europe. ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell made his remarks at a press conference in the Jewish Museum in Brussels on Tuesday where EU-Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, presented a new Eurobarometer on the perception of anti-Semitism in Europe which reveals that one in every two Europeans (50%) considers anti-Semitism to be a problem in his or her own country. In an extensive survey released by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) on December 10th, 2018, nine out of ten Jews (90%) said that they had experienced rising anti-Semitism in the last five years.
European Commissioner Jourová noted that “74 years after the liberation of Auschwitz anti-Semitism still kills Jews in Europe and this has now become the new normal”.
The Eurobarometer further revealed that a majority of Europeans (54%) say the conflict in the Middle East has a significant influence on the perception of the Jewish people in their own countries. Needless to say, this perception is mostly negative. In Sweden this percentage reaches 85% whereas in Bulgaria it is only 15 %.
“Europe cannot remain indifferent towards the existential threats to the Jews who today live in the State of Israel, while at the same time being committed to fighting anti-Semitism in Europe”, Sandell said. “If a Jewish state had already existed in 1938, millions of European Jews would be alive today. It must therefore be a fundamental value and objective of the European Union to protect and support the only Jewish state in the world, even when standing up for these values means losing out financially”, he added. The Israeli government has expressed deep concern over the fact that the EU is turning a blind eye to the escalating Iranian proxy war against Israel and engaging in trade with the Islamic Republic of Iran despite the fact that the stated goal of Iran is to erase the Jewish nation from the map.
In a special edition of the European Report talk show on Tuesday, Estonian MEP Igor Gräzin noted that “anti-Semitism is part of European culture regardless of whether we like it or not”. “When we speak about European values we cannot forget the crusades or the inquisition which are also part of European history – Jew hatred was never limited to Nazi Germany – we were all responsible”, he said.
Also in the program Charlotte Gutman from the Jewish Community of Brussels shared about the fate of her own family members that she lost in the Holocaust. “My generation, which grew up in Europe after the Holocaust, has been very fortunate as we have experienced relative calm. But now fear is returning among us as we ask ourselves if the time has come to move again”, she said. According to the survey of EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) released in December, four out of ten Jews living in Europe are asking themselves the same question.
These same concerns were raised by the President of the Jewish Agency, Isaac Herzog, who spoke at the Annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony in the European Parliament on Wednesday, where he said that “anti-Semitism again is a rampant crisis in Europe as Jews are unsafe walking the streets in major capitals like Paris where there has been a 69% increase in anti-Semitic attacks”.
Herzog was joined by European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, Romanian Prime Minister, Viorica Dăncilă, and Vice-President of the European Jewish Congress, Raya Kalenova, among others, in expressing their concern for the current situation for Jews in Europe.
In 2005 the European Coalition for Israel initiated and hosted the first Holocaust Remembrance Day in the European Parliament which has since become an official event and is hosted by the President of the European Parliament.
Note: January 27th was designated by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/7 on November 1st 2005 as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day – a memorial day for the victims of the Holocaust, the genocide that resulted in the annihilation of 6 million Jews. The Holocaust Remembrance Day in the European Parliament is held at a convenient time in the parliamentary calendar on or just before the international date.