MKs say anti-Semitism in Europe could turn violent

Growing figures are ‘alarming,’ warns Knesset Speaker Edelstein; French immigration to Israel increased 63% over past year.

December 31, 2013 03:51
2 minute read.
Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein.

Yuli Edelstein 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)


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Growing European anti-Semitism might become violent, lawmakers attending a session of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs stated on Monday.

The meeting came as an inverted Nazi salute known as the quenelle, invented and popularized by the anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne M’balla M’balla, was gaining popularity in France.

Committee chairman MK Yoel Razbozov (Yesh Atid) called on MKs at the hearing to work to “suppress” such manifestations of hate. He also called on the nations of Europe and the European Union to promote tolerance. Without decisive action, he stated, anti-Semitic sentiment “might develop into violent action.”

MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu) stated that anti-Semitism was “not a danger to the State of Israel,” although it was abroad.

“Anti-Semitism is dangerous to the world, as it has been shown in the past,” Rivlin said. “Therefore, the duty [to combat it] rests primarily on the countries themselves and on leadership in the Christian world.”

Use of the quenelle salute has recently soared. Hundreds of quenelle photos can be found on anti-Semitic forums and on Facebook. Others showing it being performed at Jewish sites and Nazi concentration camps have become especially popular.

The gesture has also been used by a soccer star, soldiers guarding a Parisian synagogue and a French national playing in the NBA. While civil servants could face disciplinary action over the quenelle, rank and file French citizens can perform it with impunity.

Anti-Semitism has become a major problem in France, where attacks against Jews have risen significantly since the turn of the millennium due to an influx of Muslim immigrants.

According to a recent study by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), 21 percent of French Jews reported experiencing at least one anti-Semitic incident during the past year.

At Monday’s committee hearing, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) compared anti-Semitism to a stream that, every time one tries to block it, finds another path to “break out.”

Citing the FRA report, Edelstein described the figures it presented as “alarming,” adding that law enforcement must deal with the problem before it spreads. Violence might “begin with Jews, but it does not end with them,” he said.

French immigration to Israel has increased by 63% over the past year, according to new figures released by the Immigration and Absorption Ministry in conjunction with the Jewish Agency for Israel. Things have gotten so bad there that most Jewish parents enroll their children in private schools because of anti-Semitism, a leader of France’s Jewish community said last month during an interview.

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