A French gendarme stands guard next to tombstones desecrated by vandals with Nazi swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans in the Jewish cemetery of Brumath near Strasbourg.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Representatives of European Jewry called for the establishment of a continental body to combat anti-Semitism in a meeting with a top EU policy maker on Wednesday.
Speaking with the EU Foreign Affairs And Security Policy chief Federica Mogherini, a delegation from the European Jewish Congress stated that in the wake of last week’s attack by Islamists against Paris’s Hyper Cacher kosher market, it is incumbent that the EU ramp up it’s efforts to protect its Jewish citizens.
“Now more than ever, the European Union needs to create a position and organization specifically geared toward finding long-lasting solutions for anti-Semitism and other forms of racism,” said EJC president Dr. Moshe Kantor, urging the formation of a task force dealing with the issue.
According to Kantor, who has previously said that “normative Jewish life is unsustainable” without an amelioration in the fear and insecurity felt by Europe’s Jews, recent events have demonstrated that the Jews’ sense of security in parts of Europe is “at its lowest point since the end of the Holocaust and many are leaving their homes as a result.”
Stating that European Jewry had warned of an escalation of violence following the 2012 massacre at a Jewish school in Toulouse and last year’s shooting attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Kantor said that it is “incumbent on the European Union to urgently place combating anti-Semitism as one of its highest priorities because this is a hatred that transcends borders and cannot be dealt with by any single nation on its own.”
In a statement following the meeting, Mogherini said that the EU was built upon the notion of working together to handle cross-border challenges, saying that there must be no divide between “what the European Union does internally, and what we do externally, when it comes to our security,” but did not directly address Kantor’s request for new European institutions to deal with anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitic incidents across Europe have been rising for a number of years and surged over the summer during Israel’s ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, leading to a number of high profile condemnations of anti-Semitism from European leaders.
In 2013, the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency reported that a third of Jews in a number of countries were mulling emigration, while close to three quarters of French Jews polled last May indicated that they were considering leaving the country. According to a survey released this week by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, over half of British Jews expressed concern that they had no future in their country.
Last summer, Eli Ringer, the immediate past president of Belgium’s Forum der Joodse Organisaties, demanded that “in the new Commission of Europe a commissioner should be appointed handling the problem of racism and specifically on anti-Semitism.”
Following the shooting at the Jewish Museum of Brussels, Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo made a similar statement, telling the World Jewish Congress that Europewide cooperation in the fight against anti-Semitism was a necessity.
In December, the European parliament declined to establish a task force to deal with the issue, despite what was perceived to be widespread support, eliciting harsh condemnations from Jews worldwide.
“At the very moment when bold measures are called for to meet the challenges to Jewish life in Europe, the European Parliament has said ‘we really don’t care,’” Anti-Defamation League chief Abraham Foxman said at the time.