EU Commission chief vigorously condemns anti-Semitism

ByEJP
September 13, 2010 12:30

In a Jewish New Year greeting, Barroso says all Europeans need to condemn "racism and discrimination on the basis of belief."




Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Com

Jose Manuel Barroso 311 AP. (photo credit:Associated Press)

BRUSSELS - In a Jewish New Year greeting, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Europeans need to condemn anti-Semitism.

"For us all, fellow Europeans, remembrance means to vigorously condemn any forms of anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination on the basis of belief," Barroso writes in a letter to Rabbi Levi Matusof on behalf of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE).

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"Be assured of my commitment and determination in pursuing that cause," he adds.

Barroso’s comments come only days after European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht made remarks on the Jews perceived as anti-Semitic, in an interview with the Belgian Flemish radio.

De Gucht launched a diatribe about the power of the ‘Jewish lobby’ in the US and appeared to indicate that Jews are irrational when it comes to the Israel and the Middle East conflict "because there is a belief among most Jews that they’re right."

A European Commission spokesman said last week that President José Manuel Baroso will not sanction Commissioner Karel De Gucht for his comments on Jews he made in a radio interview, despite calls that he be fired. "On the basis of the reassurances given by Mr De Gucht to President Barroso, the president considers that the incident is closed," the spokesman said. Earlier, the Commission stressed that De Gucht’s remarks were “personal comments” that in no way reflected the position of the EU regarding the Israeli-Palestinian talks and the Middle East peace process.

The Rabbinical Center of Europe, which is an organization dedicated to meeting the religious and spiritual needs of Jewish communities in Europe, said it hopes that Barroso’s message "is indicative of a more forceful approach to anti-Semitism in Europe at all levels."

"Barroso’s welcome comments need to be internalized by all Europeans, from the unemployed European to the highest levels of the European institutions," Rabbi Arye Goldberg, RCE’s deputy director, said.

"De Gucht’s recent comments clearly demonstrate that bigoted ideas about Jews even permeate at the European leadership and this problem needs to be immediately addressed," he added.

"The fact that last year one recorded the greatest number of anti-Semitic attacks since the end of the Holocaust shows that we are going in the wrong direction and we call on the European Commission to address the growing number of attacks against Jewish sites, institutions and individuals."

In his letter, Barroso also refers to an "ethical crisis" in Europe brought on by the economic and financial crisis.

"What in the end is at stake is not only economic recovery but rather our fundamental values, the European values, the very basis upon which the European project rests: the respect for fundamental rights and democratic liberties," he writes.

The president of the Commission thanks the RCE for its "attachment to the European project" and wishes a Shana Tova, a good year in Hebrew.

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