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Eur. Jewish Congress: 'Jews in Europe Entering a Dark Period'

EJC warns of Jewish communities in Europe that are 'teetering on the brink' due to official endorsement or neglect of anti-Semitism.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 10/14/2010, 4:27 PM / Last Update: 10/14/2010, 5:07 PM

The European Jewish Congress warns that some Jewish communities in Europe are “teetering on the brink” due to national endorsement or neglect of anti-Semitism.

The EJC maintains that a recent wave of anti-Semitism, some of which was officially sanctioned, has left some Jewish communities in grave danger. EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor sums up: “We are entering a very dark period for Jews in Europe.”

Recent instances of official anti-Semitism include a grave incident that occurred in Antwerp, Belgium. A respected government-funded Catholic school, the College of the Sacred Heart, hosted a "Palestine Day," replete with anti-Semitic references and activities for youngsters. One stall at the event was entitled “Throw the soldiers into the sea,” and children were invited to throw replicas of Israeli soldiers into two large tanks of water.

Last weekend, an event organized for Jewish children in a town just south of Malmo, Sweden, was attacked by a gang of thugs who shouted “Heil Hitler” and “Jewish pigs.” The gang entered the site of the event and damaged property. This incident occurred only a few weeks after Malmo Mayor Ilmar Reeplau – known for having expressed understanding for anti-Semitic violence – was reelected. “We accept neither Zionism nor anti-Semitism,” Reeplau said at the time, equating Jewish national self-determination with hate and racism.

The EJC also reports that in recent months, former German Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin (who has since apologized and stepped down), European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht, and Spanish MEP Emilio Menendez del Valle have all made comments perceived as anti-Semitic.

“These events occurring soon after the anti-Semitic comments of Sarrazin, De Gucht and del Valle demonstrate that anti-Semitism is at best actively promoted, and at worst ignored, by some officials in Europe,” said EJC President Kantor. “Due to this intolerable situation, small Jewish communities like Malmo are teetering on the brink of extinction.”

“Small Jewish communities are facing a situation where they are being physically, verbally and psychologically threatened by fundamentalist elements and their extreme left-wing cohorts on one side and the far-right neo-Nazis on the other,” Kantor continued. “If they can’t receive protection or respite from mainstream officials, then we are entering a very dark period for the Jews in Europe.”

Calling on Europe
The EJC, the democratically elected representative umbrella organization of European Jewry, announced that it calls on European governments and the European Union to launch a campaign against intolerance and anti-Semitism. It similarly wants them to remind European citizens that the new Europe was established after World War II on the concept of “Never Again.”

As co-Chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, Dr. Kantor will be hosting a conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on October 24-25, entitled, “Towards Reconciliations, Experience, Techniques and Opportunities for Europe.”  It will deal with and work towards finding solutions for issues of racism, intolerance and conflict.