The European Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress have kicked off a campaign to raise support for Israel in Europe, in the face of efforts to vilify the Jewish state. The campaign began with the circulation of a petition supporting Israel's right to self-defense.

Once they have gathered as many signatures as possible, organizers plan to submit the petition to President Shimon Peres.

EJC President Moshe Kantor said the petition was geared to educate Europeans about the challenges Israel faces. “The first step is merely to create awareness,” he explained.

Another step will be fighting anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate by pressing the implementation of existing hate crimes laws, he said.

Ultimately, the struggle for European support will be “long and arduous,” Kantor said, but the EJC is determined. “We promise to consider using any means, as long as they are legal, to assist our brothers and sisters in Israel during this difficult battle,” he pledged.

Standing with Israel is in Europe's best interest, Kantor believes. “Israel is a nation which shares our morals and values as Europeans and is on the frontline of the battle against an Iranian leadership whose missile range extends into the heart of Europe,” he said.

Those who vilify Israel “have managed to distract attention from the very real threats from Iran and Islamic fundamentalism,” he warned. “Now, more than ever, Europeans should be standing alongside Israel and understand that a threat to Israel is a threat to Europe,” he stated.