At Holocaust event, Jewish leaders urge: 'We need to safeguard Jews in Europe'

'We need more than 'Never Again' to safeguard Jews in Europe,' EU Jewish chief says.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

European and Jewish representatives attend Holocaust memorial event
European and Jewish representatives attend Holocaust memorial event
Yoni Rykner

One hundred parliamentarians from across Europe, including ministers, who gathered at Auschwitz are being urged to concretely tighten and toughen anti-Semitism laws in their countries through direct legislation drafted by the Brussels-based European Jewish Association (EJA) and the European Action and Protection League (APL).

The two-day event, organized by the EJA and the APL, and other partners from across Europe, takes in a symposium in Krakow and gala dinner on the first day, followed by a visit and memorial service to Auschwitz-Birkenau on the second day.

Attending the event were senators, MPs and MEPs from across the political and national spectrum, as well as Jewish community leaders, Holocaust survivors, a former neo-Nazi, and those who have been directly affected by anti-Semitism such as the granddaughter of 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll, who was murdered in her flat in March 2018.

The event marks the 75th anniversary of the death camp's liberation, and its meetings and gala dinner addressed the need to prioritize and increased Holocaust education in Europe. In addition, those present were urged to re-commit themselves to the shared fight against hatred towards Jews, by enhancing and strengthening national legislation regarding stereotyping and the sale-for-profit of Nazi memorabilia.

EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin said the best way to honor those who died during the Holocaust is not by remembrance alone, but by positive and decisive action in stamping out anti-Semitism.

"European politicians must do more than statements condemning anti-Semitic incidents," he said. "This is not enough. They need to do more to insure the future of European Jews. They have to introduce in their respective countries a draft legislation that we have proposed in order to tighten laws fighting anti-Semitism. We need to create or amend existing legislation with regards to combating anti-Semitism in the following areas, and under the EU or national frameworks: stereotyping, education, and the sale of Nazi memorabilia. This is fundamental not only for European Jews but for Europe itself. This is a fight between good and evil, between light and darkness."

Rabbi Shlomo Koves, Chairman of the Action and Protection League remarked: "Seventy-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, we need to wage a war, not a war with weapons, but a war of ideas."

"We need the following guidelines: One, to be united to agree on ideas to fight anti-Semitism. Two, we have to explore the battlefield, which is different from country to country. Anti-Semitism is a virus with many mutations. We have launched the first ever pan-European survey of anti-Semitism in 14 European countries and we will monitor anti-Semitic incidents in all European countries. Three, [we must] choose our must effective weapons. Education is the most effective weapon against anti-Semitism, especially among teenagers. The Action and Protection League has launched an initiative for education programs in national textbooks, including Jewish history, the role of European Jews in the societies and the history of the State of Israel."

Aharon Tamir, Deputy Chairman of March of the Living, who will address the symposium, added: "In recent years, anti-Semitism has become an epidemic which shows no sign of disappearing. Whilst meetings between world leaders on the subject are important, now is the time for decisive action. Each representative who has visited Auschwitz with us is obliged to make the required changes in their home country. We have passed the turning point; time to take the necessary steps to combat anti-Semitism is running out."

Wolfgang Sobotka, President of the Austrian National Council,, remarked: "As Austrians, we will not avoid responsibility. We need not only listen to Holocaust survivors and descendants but also translating the fight against anti-Semitism into political action. No compromise is possible in the fight against anti-Semitism. According to a survey, unfortunately there are still 10% of the Austrian population with anti-Semitic beliefs and 30 percent with anti-Semitic perceptions. The Austrian Parliament has decided to increase the commemoration of the Holocaust. We have also decided to create an independent institute to study anti-Semitism, anti-Judaism and anti-Zionism. We will also award the Simon Wiesenthal in the fight against anti-Semitism on national and international level."

"Demonization of Israel is the new form of anti-Semitism. Israel is not treated like any other country," he emphasized.

Michael O’Flaherty, Director of FRA, said: "We cannot accept that Jews in Europe continue to be attacked and that many among them are considering leaving the continent according to one of our surveys on the perception of anti-Semitism among European Jews. European states must tackle anti-Semitism effectively. All member states must adopt the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism and they need to insure the protection of Jewish sites. Jewish organizations cannot share alone the financial burden."

André Gattolin, French Senate Vic-Chair of European Affairs Committee, said: "Today unfortunately the situation of anti-Semitism in France is not joyful, with an increase last year of 75% of anti-Semitic incidents, 500 incidents and 50 incidents only in the Alsace region. The current social tension in the country is not helpful. Today, anti-Semitic discourse comes from both the extreme left and extreme right. Hate and intolerance have no place nor in France nor elsewhere."

Keren Knoll, granddaughter of Mireille Knoll, Holocaust survivor murdered in 2018 by a Muslim because she was Jewish, emphasized: "Unfortunately, Judeophobia didn’t end with WWII. It is still alive. Anti-Semites live among us. Hate is still very alive. We need to find people who can share our message."