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European Jewish Parliament Holds General Assembly in Poland

The European Jewish Parliament is holding its General Assembly in Poland to discuss issues concerning European Jewry, namely anti-Semitism.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 1/28/2013, 11:16 AM

Jew walks next to synagogue
Jew walks next to synagogue
Flash 90

The European Jewish Parliament will hold its General Assembly on Monday and Tuesday in Krakow, southern Poland, to discuss various issues concerning European Jewry, namely the ongoing fight against anti-Semitism.

It will be the first time that the Parliament is gathering outside Brussels, where it is based, since it was launched one year ago.

"The choice of this very symbolic location was motivated by several factors," Joel Rubinfeld, Co-Chairman of the European Jewish Parliament told The European Jewish Press." Firstly, Poland was the cradle of Jewish life in Europe before WW II. Half of the Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust were Polish and most of the Nazi exterminations camps were in Poland. It is important to remember where we come from and not to forget the horrors of the Holocaust, that's why we choose Krakow for our GA, next to the biggest Jewish cemetery in history: Auschwitz."

The members of the Jewish Parliament will visit the former Nazi death camp on Tuesday, in light of the commemoration on Sunday of International Holocaust Memorial Day, which marked the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops on January 27,1945.

"Secondly, we are witnessing a revival of Jewish life in Poland which the European Jewish Parliament wants to support and encourage in gathering Jewish leaders from all over Europe in Krakow," he told the European publication. "And thirdly, organizing our General Assembly in Poland is a way to express our gratitude to the Polish authorities who demonstrated during the last years on numerous occasions their friendship towards the Jewish people and the State of Israel," he added.

"This gathering in Poland where around 10,000 Jews live, is not only symbolic as it is a reminder of the past but it also opens a new chapter in Polish-Jewish relations. I am pleased that the Krakow Jewish community can show to European Jewry that we are not only relics of the past but also builders of the future for those who survived and stayed here," said Klaudia Klimek, a Polish member of the European Jewish Parliament from Krakow, according to The European Jewish Press.

A dozen of members of ‘Sejm’, the Polish parliament, and of members of the European Parliament are expected to take part in the meeting, as well as the discussions that will take place in Krakow’s municipality hall.

Among the topics of discussion will be the anti-Semitic and xenophobic Jobbik party, Hungary’s third largest political party.

Recently the party evoked outrage within the Jewish community after MP Marton Gyongyosi stated on the floor of the parliament that "it is high time to assess how many MPs and government members are of Jewish origin and who present a national security risk to Hungary," urging the parliament to draw up a list of Jewish suspects.

Anti-Semitism remains a "hot" topic, said Rubinfeld, adding that, "Fighting anti-Semitism is our priority.”

"There is a new form of anti-Semitism that we are monitoring in Western Europe which takes the Israeli-Arab as pretext for young Muslims to attack Jews in Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin and other cities,"  citing the killing of three Jewish children and the father of two of them in Toulouse, France, in 2012.

"There is also the more ‘traditional’ anti-Semitism which shows its hideous head in Central and Eastern Europe. I am thinking of the presence of neo-Nazi parties like Jobbik in Hungary and Golden Dawn Greece but also attempts to rehabilitate Nazism that we are observing in the Baltic countries,” Rubinfeld told The European Jewish Press.

"The best way to avoid tragedies repeating themselves is to learn from the mistakes of the past," he told the paper. "We will devote time and energy needed to try to reverse this extremely dangerous situation.”

Based in Brussels, the European Jewish Parliament was established by the European Jewish Union (EJU) in 2011 and inaugurated in February 2012 in the seat of the European Parliament.

It is an innovative forum that comprises 120 members (MEJPs)-- including public figures, religious mentors, lay leaders, politicians and artists-- from 45 countries who represent a cross section of Jewish life, and all of whom share a passion for furthering the interests of the Jewish people in Europe and throughout the world.