Days after the bloody attacks in Paris, a delegation from the European Jewish Congress (EJC) has called for the appointment of a special European Union Envoy and a special task force to combat rising anti-Semitism, during a meeting Wednesday in Strasbourg with EU foreign policy chief and European Commission Vice-President Federica Mogherini.
“Now more than ever, the European Union needs to create a position and organization specifically geared towards finding long-lasting solutions for anti-Semitism and other forms of racism,” EJC President Moshe Kantor told the EU leader. “The recent events demonstrate that the sense of security among Jews in parts of Europe is at its lowest point since the end of the Holocaust and many are leaving their homes as a result,’’ he said.
The US has already a ‘Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism’.
Kantor said ”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.”
During the meeting, Mogherini expressed her ‘’deepest condolences’’ following the tragic recent attacks in Paris. ‘’Friday’s attack on the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris piled pain upon pain for the people of France and Europe as a whole,’’ she said, stressing that she discussed with the EJC ‘’how to tackle concretely the challenge of anti-Semitism in Europe.’’
‘’I have said many times since the attack on Charlie Hebdo that there must be no divide between what the European Union does internally, and what we do externally, when it comes to our security,’’ she said. ‘’The EU is built on a belief that we can combat cross-border phenomena – from combatting the rise of anti-Semitic incitement on the internet, to tackling extremist ideology abroad, one of the priorities in developing a comprehensive strategy to combat emerging threats in the Middle East,’’ she added. ‘’The spirit of unity we have seen in France, across Europe and the world since last Wednesday must instil a unity of purpose in all of us in combatting these threats.’’
The Brussels meeting was held only a few days after four Jews were murdered in a kosher supermarket in Paris. According to survivors of the attack, Amedy Coulibaly, the Islamist terrorist who attacked the store, said that he specifically chose the Hyper Cacher store because he wanted to target Jews. The attack is just the latest one on Jews and Jewish targets which have seen dozens of dead or wounded in recent years.
“We warned after the Toulouse school massacre (in 2012) and again after the Brussels Jewish museum massacre (in 2014) that Jews are facing even greater threats,” Kantor declared.
“The targeting of Jews across Europe is ongoing, persistent and growing more and more deadly, and is being justified by a growing number of people on the continent, whether it is in certain communities, public figures or the media,” he deplored.
“This challenge needs special attention and to be dealt with in a holistic manner. The same groups who target Jews are a threat to our general society and all of Europe and we must find a strong and robust answer to prevent the next massacre before it is too late.”
The next meeting of EU Foreign Ministers on February 19 in Brussels is scheduled to discuss ways to prevent the movement of people from Europe who go to Syria or Iraq to fight and come back. ‘’We will discuss how to work together with regional partners of the Arab region in particular to avoid the flow of terrorists,’’ Mogherini said.