Europe

Jewish Agency Head Herzog: Anti-Semitism Is a “Plague” Threatening European Jews

The Jewish community in Europe is under threat from an anti-Semitic “plague” Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog warned in a keynote speech at the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday, ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.

JNS reported that Herzog made the remarks in an address to a European Jewish Congress event. “We can no longer ignore the fact that Jews are once again unsafe in the streets of Europe,” said Herzog.

“Anti-Semitism in Europe is now a raging crisis. Again. And it must be stopped. As it pertains to anti-Semitism, we are facing among the darkest periods of Jewish history in Europe, in recent times. There are far too many examples to cite,” Herzog added, noting that this sentiment is shared across the board among Jews in Europe.

“When 90 percent of European Jews say anti-Semitism has increased in their home country, we understand we are dealing with a plague,” Herzog said. He warned that “30 percent of Europeans do not know anything about the Holocaust” and called this “a threat.”

The European Commission published a special Eurobarometer on the perceptions of anti-Semitism on Tuesday, which revealed that despite a sharp rise in anti-Jewish hatred on the continent, “respondents are of the opinion that antisemitism has remained the same (39%), decreased (10%) or have no opinion (15%).” The report said, “These respondents form a majority in 22″ of the 28 countries surveyed.

“Over half of Europeans (54%) believe that the conflicts in the Middle East have an influence on the way Jewish people are perceived in their country,” the survey stated. “A majority share this opinion in 13 member states, mainly in Northern and Western Europe.”

A previous survey published last December by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) showed that the majority of Jews living in Europe have been affected by anti-Semitism. 28% of respondents said that they had been harassed at least once in the past year, with those being visibly Jewish most prone to attacks. The data also revealed that 34% of respondents avoid visiting Jewish events or sites because they do not feel safe and 38% have considered emigrating because they did not feel safe as Jews in Europe.

The EU survey was released just two weeks after CNN reported on the “frightening” increase of anti-Semitic incidents across Europe.

Herzog reacted to the sobering findings, calling “on EU states, who have yet to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism, as they have been asked to do by the Council of the EU, to do so urgently.”

He concluded: “This should not be a matter of politicized debate. We must unite the efforts and goodwill of all Europeans, so that we can again overcome hatred and move our societies towards progress.”

[Photo: DW / YouTube ]