Timmermans receives the Lord Jakobovits Prize
Timmermans receives the Lord Jakobovits Prizeצילום: סטודיו וולפוני בריסל

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans sent a Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) greeting to Jews in Europe and around the world.

In his letter, Timmermans wrote, "It was a challenging year for Europe and its Jewish communities as our societies were put to the test, again. We witnessed demonstrations of Jewish communities in several countries standing up against antisemitism and claiming their rights as citizens. Europe is built upon the richness of our diversity and the unity of our fundamental values. That is why I have great confidence in our collective future."

"The European Commission’s relationship with Jewish communities, organizations and representatives has never been closer. This alliance makes us stronger in the battle against hatred, extremism and antisemitism. I was very honored to receive the Lord Jakobovits Prize of European Jewry this year. I see it as a sign of trust in the bond that exists between the European Union and the Jewish communities."

Recalling the March murder of Holocaust survivor Mirelle Knoll in France, Timmermans expressed "shock and sadness," saying Knoll "survived the roundup at Vel d’Hiv in 1942, but not anti-Semitism in Europe in 2018."

"The European Commission was very clear that there can be no justification and we stand in full solidarity with the European Jewish communities in condemning these vile attacks in the strongest possible way," he emphasized.

"Jews should never have to wonder whether it is safe to display their identity in their own neighborhood, city or country. Europe must remain a place where Jewish life can flourish and Jews can freely practice their faith without fear or restrictions. It doesn’t matter where the hatred comes from, whether it is right-wing, left-wing, Islamist extremists or whether it comes masked as anti-Zionism, we all have the obligation to stand up and speak out.

"Against resurging threats, the rebirth of Jewish life in many parts of Europe is a precious gift. It filled me with pride to take part in the inauguration of the new rabbi in my own home region last year and to see the continuation of thousands of years of Jewish communities in Europe. Every new synagogue, community center and school is a step to strengthen Jewish life, but also a step to strengthen Europe and to strengthen our societies.

"We will ensure that Jewish voices continue to be heard in Europe," he wrote. Let me thank all of you who participated in the broadest consultation ever on challenges to Jewish life in Europe, conducted by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency. The results will be presented this December and will guide our policy response with the ultimate aim of ensuring the rights of Jews in Europe.

"The European Union was built on the values of respect for human dignity, human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. We have the obligation to protect and strengthen the richness of Jewish culture and diversity and its contribution to our Europe."