A man carries a EU flag, after Britain voted to leave the European Union.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The EU is aware of the practice of hiding anti-Semitism behind anti-Zionism, the EU coordinator tasked with fighting the phenomenon said Tuesday.
At a Knesset discussion on the issue of anti-Semitism in Europe, hosted by the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs committee, Katharina von Schnurbein said the European Union it is actively fighting anti-Semitism in all its forms.
Schnurbein is the first person to fill this new position, which was created last year.
Yaakov Hagoel, vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization, praised her work as a “new wind in the EU,” but he stressed that it does not reflect the reality of the EU.
A survey released a day ahead of the discussion, conducted by the European Jewish Association and the Rabbinical Center of Europe, found that there was a rise in anti-Semitism in Western Europe. Conversely in Eastern Europe, the survey found that there has been a drop in anti-Semitism.
Hagoel pointed out, however, that 74 percent of anti-Semitic incidents abroad are not reported to official bodies, a statistic that was released last December by the Knesset committee. He said this fact is indicative of the atmosphere that pervades Europe.
“We need to understand what generation we are raising,” Hagoel said. “They are proud citizens who want to live in Europe and raise their kids there. There’s a price to pay for raising kids in Europe.
This very much concerns us as the Jewish nation, and you are responsible for all the citizens, including the Jewish ones,” he continued, directing the latter comment toward Schnurbein and EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen, who also participated in the discussion.
Referencing a survey conducted by the EU itself in 2013 which indicated that anti-Semitism was on the rise, Hagoel said the key question is what has been done since, to change “the atmosphere in the street.”
Recalling a recent visit to France, Hagoel recounted that many Jews either place mezuzot on the inner part of their doors, or don’t hang them at all. Hinting that this is out of fear of revealing Jewish symbols, Hagoel asserted: “We need to stop this. And we’d be happy to be your partners to stop this in the best way possible.”
“This is a very good example of cooperation,” continued NGO Monitor President Gerald Steinberg, motioning the very dialogue they were participating in. “In democracy, there needs to be dialogue,” he said. “The problems of anti-Semitism in Europe are shared problems, there should be a more constant discussion on this. The rise in anti-Semitism in Europe is directly linked to incitement we hear throughout the world such as the words ‘war crimes, genocide and ethnic cleansing’ used with regard to Israel – it clearly feeds anti-Semitism.”
“Anti-Semitism is not just the Jews’ problem,” said MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), a sentiment echoed many times during the discussion. “It’s not just the Israelis’ problem either. History has already taught us what happens when we don’t deal with this problem.
This is a global problem.
Terror is striking everywhere.”
Israeli Students Combating Antisemitism Director Ido Daniel raised the issue of social media allowing its users to spread incitement, including physical violence against Jews.
“People with obviously Jewish names change their names on Facebook because they receive abuse due to their identity – the problem of anti-Semitism on the web must not be overlooked,” he stressed.
Education, online incitement, awareness and the definition of anti-Semitism were key issues raised in the meeting, and focal points agreed upon by all.
Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) concluded the meeting by calling on the European Union to act against anti-Semitism by organizations or individuals, via legislation, sanctions and above all, education. “The education you give your children in schools, in educational institutions must be based on loving the ‘other’” “We have very much intensified our efforts, and we must pull our forces to fight this together,” said Schnurbein, quoting recently deceased Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel: “The opposite of hate is not love, but indifference.”