Good News? European Governments Unite Behind Jews

Denmark pledges $148 million to fight Islamic terrorism; French, German, British leaders say they'll protect Jews.

Hillel Fendel ,

French police secure Paris synagogue (file)
French police secure Paris synagogue (file)

This past week saw a host of encouraging statements by European leaders in the wake of growing anti-Semitism and Islamic terrorism. It remains to be seen whether the words will be followed up with actions.

The Danish government will spend nearly $148M over the next four years to fight local terrorism, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt announced Thursday. "Our security level is high," she said at a press conference, "and preparedness is high. But we are also challenged. Militant Islamists are constantly developing new ways of challenging our security.”

At last week's funeral of Copenhagen's Jewish terror victim Dan Uzan, Thorning-Schmidt said that "an attack on the Jews of Denmark is an attack on Denmark."

In France, President Francois Hollande said his country would protect Jews with full force. Leading a ceremony last week at a Jewish cemetery where hundreds of graves were vandalized, he said, "I know some are asking if they can live in peace in their country, and who will protect them against those who wish them harm." He continued, "One more time, I want to give the Republic's response – that it will protect you with all its force."

The day before, Hollande dismissed Prime Minister Netanyahu's call for Jews to move to Israel. "Jews have their place in Europe and particularly in France," he said.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel similarly said, "The German government and other officials will do everything possible to ensure the safety of Jewish institutions and citizens in Germany." Speaking to the press in Berlin, Merkel added, "We are glad and also grateful for the existence of Jewish life again in Germany."

In Britain, a parliamentary report has been issued calling for urgent action to address a "disturbing rise" in anti-Semitism. The specific measures called for include providing public funds for security at synagogues, better Holocaust education, and more clearly defining the term "anti-Semitism" to minimize such hate crimes at public demonstrations against Israel.

The European Union itself has decided to take action against growing Islamic terrorist threats by tightening airport security and removing internet content promoting terrorism or extremism. EU leaders met informally in Brussels and acknowledged that the recent terror attacks have "targeted the fundamental values and human rights that are at the heart of the European Union : solidarity, freedom, including freedom of expression, pluralism, democracy, tolerance and human dignity."

Norway and Sweden both saw pro-Jewish initiatives on a more local level. As has been widely reported, a large group of Norwegian Muslims formed a symbolically protective "ring of peace" around a synagogue in Oslo on Saturday in solidarity with European Jews. In Sweden, a radio station apologized after an interviewer asked Israeli Ambassador Yitzchak Bachman, "Are Jews themselves responsible for the progression of anti-Semitism?" The shocked interviewee replied, "I purely and simply reject the question."