EU summit on Yom Kippur raises questions for Jewish leaders

Some see meeting’s date as intentional slight.

JTA - Arutz Sheva Staff,

European Union on Atonement Day
European Union on Atonement Day

Is it insensitivity or something more sinister?

Some European Jewish leaders have expressed concerns about the scheduling of a European Union leaders’ summit in Austria on Yom Kippur. The date is Sept. 20, the day after Judaism’s holiest day, but the Austrian hosts have acknowledged that some of the events will indeed take place on Yom Kippur.

Many Jewish leaders have cited the move as indicative of the lack of attention paid to their concerns, according to Politico Europe, and some see the meeting’s date as an intentional slight.

The informal meeting of heads of state or government will be held in Salzburg.

“It is very difficult to find a date that works for the 28 member states, 20 September was possible and is the day after Yom Kippur,” the Austrian president’s office said in a statement.

Péter Niedermuller, a Jewish member of the European Parliament from Hungary, linked the scheduling to rising rhetoric regarding the Christian nature of Europe.

“I can imagine very well there are some political intentions,” he told Politico. “Maybe this is a first step to figure out what is possible or what is not possible.”

Niedermuller noted that Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache is a member of the rightist Freedom Party.

“OK, we will just signal that this is a Christian Europe,” he said. “The main voices you can hear from the far right in Europe is that this is Christian unity, Christian Europe, Christian culture, and they never mention the Jewish culture or Jewish Europe. There is a lot of hidden and open anti-Semitism.”