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European Anti-Semitism Rears its Head in Top Echelons

European Trade Commissioner and Bundesbank board member air anti-Semitism
on radio and in print.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 9/2/2010, 9:22 PM / Last Update: 9/4/2010, 9:48 PM

Andreas Praefcke

Interviewed by Belgian Flemish public radio VRT on Thursday, Karel De Gucht, European Commissioner for Trade, was asked about the chances for peace in the Middle East now that direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians restarted in Washington yesterday.

De Gucht answered with a tirade about the power of the ‘Jewish Lobby’ in the U.S. and appeared to indicate that Jews are irrational when it comes to the Israel and the Middle East conflict.

The European Jewish Congress (EJC) called the remarks by  De Gucht outrageous and called for an apology and a full retraction.

EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor was incensed by De Gucht’s anti-Semitic remarks. “What sort of environment allows such remarks to be made openly by a senior politician?” Kantor said. “This is part of a dangerous trend of incitement against Jews and Israel in Europe that needs to be stamped out immediately.”

“Once again we hear outrageous anti-Semitism from a senior European official,” Kantor said. “The libel of Jewish power is apparently acceptable at the highest levels of the European Union. This should worry everyone who seeks a more tolerant Europe.”

De Gucht, one of the most senior officials in the European Union, is a former Belgian Foreign Minister. These latest remarks are especially troubling as statistics on anti-Semitic attacks in Europe have reached new heights.

Kantor said that these remarks are part of a new wave of new anti-Semitism growing in Europe which holds distorted views on Israel as the Jewish State. “It has somehow become acceptable to attack Jews through Israel, even at the highest levels” Kantor continued. “The old anti-Semitic libels of the all-powerful Jewish cabals, the recalcitrant Jew and the irrational Jews only caring for their own, are remade to fit 21st century hostility to the Jewish State.”

The EJC is calling for an immediate retraction and apology from De Gucht. “It is of great concern that a high-level politician in Europe holding such problematic and intolerant views,” Kantor said. “This is even more galling as Mr. De Gucht thought that these remarks were acceptable for public consumption.

The EU Commissioner's remarks follow the uproar after recent comments by Deutsche Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarazzin, who said that “all Jews share a certain gene.”
 
The Deutsche Bundesbank, Germany's central bank, voted unanimously Thursday to dismiss  Sarrazin. The board will ask German President Christian Wulff to terminate Sarrazin's contract. Sarrazin made headlines recently for his comments on both Muslim immigrants and Jews.
 
In fact, the remark on Jews is not without basis, and not necessarily anti-Semitic, although the intent and context of Mr. Sarrazin's remark seem to make it so. Orthodox Jewish researcher Professor Karl Skorecki and Dr. Doron Hammer, among others, in an article published recently in Nature magazine, have  shown the existence of a Jewish genome uniting Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews. Genetic reasearchers have shown that Cohanim (Jews of the priestly line) have a common genetic characteristic.
 
Sarrazin also said that Muslim immigrants to Europe would not integrate into European society.
 
He has written a book arguing that ongoing Muslim immigration will be detrimental to Germany's economy and culture, due to high Muslim fertility rates combined with what he says is a Muslim refusal – or inability – to integrate into German society. He has previously criticized Muslim immigrants as a drain on Germany's welfare system.
 
His remarks were condemned by European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others.
 
Sarrazin has argued in his defense that his comments were taken out of context. In addition, he has the right to freedom of speech, he stated.
 
He was to have remained on the Bundesbank board until 2014. He is expected to appeal the bank's decision regarding his dismissal.