'Jews are afraid to be open about their Judaism'

Rise in anti-Semitism in Europe causes Jews to fear appearing Jewish, threatens Jewish continuity in Diaspora.

Hezki Baruch ,

Yaakov Hagoel
Yaakov Hagoel
Eliran Aharon

The Knesset's Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee on Monday held a special meeting to discuss the rise in anti-Semitism in the US and Europe.

Participating in the meeting were ambassadors from Germany, Austria, and the European Union.

World Zionist Organization Chairman Yaakov Hagoel, who formerly served as the Head of the Department for Activities in Israel and Countering Anti-Semitism, told the ambassadors that "in the past decade, we have had the misfortune to see a rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidence. The number of these incidents increases every year, all over the globe."

"The rise in anti-Semitism is not only expressed in the sheer numbers of incidents, but also in the severity of the incidents, which is steadily increasing. Unfortunately, this holds true all over the world, and there does not seem to be an end in sight.

"Ambassadors of the world, it is important that you understand: The responsibility for Diaspora Jewry rests on the world's governments. Governments must work to defeat anti-Semitism and ensure the safety of their Jewish citizens."

Turning to the leaders of Jewish organizations around the world, Hagoel said, "You should know that a rise in anti-Semitism causes us, the Jews, to be afraid of seeming outwardly Jewish. Around the world, Jews do not wear a kipa (skullcap), they put their mezuzahs on the inside of the doorway, they change their names, and so on."

"They do all of these things in order to hide the fact that they are Jewish. This fear causes Jews to distance themselves from anything which might outwardly identify them as Jews. However, at the same time, the outer signs of Judaism bring Jews closer to religion and Jewish identity.

"At the end of the day, the fear [of being outwardly Jewish] causes assimilation.

"We must strengthen Jewish pride around the world. If we do not, our name will disappear from the Diaspora."