A Wake-Up Call For Europe

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Open Letter by Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, about the results of the recent European elections and the major challenges confronting Europe

The results of the recent European Parliamentary elections were nothing short of a bombshell for Europe and should serve as a wake-up call for all Europeans who care about the future of the union.

Across Europe, parties opposed to the European Union, fanning the flames of hatred and xenophobia, mostly on the far right, were swept into the European Parliament by a wave of voter discontent.

The message can be seen as one of disgust with the political class, marked by a visceral anti-European agenda. And, when the extremists take their seats, they are likely to stifle any effort to extricate Europe from its economic woes. The EU, built as a means of reconciling and unifying a fractured continent, could find itself under the control of those who are determined to compromise its very foundations.

We must fortify these essential foundations before our continent is dragged into another maelstrom similar to many in the past where disorder, chaos and even bloodshed ensued.

We must build a coalition of major international stakeholders to unite efforts in combating neo-Nazism and all forms of extremism and promoting tolerance. To defend the values of the united Europe, European leaders must toughen existing legislations against extremism, law enforcement authorities must take timely and necessary measures to prevent hate-speech, and educational institutions must teach a new generation of Europeans to reject racism, intolerance and xenophobia.

Moreover, many see Europe’s multicultural model degenerating before their eyes with the absence of coherent policies and pan-European legislation to address issues such as immigration and minorities and the rise of mono-cultural enclosed communities in Europe’s cities.

Ultimately, the failure to address these concerns, owing to an ill-conceived view of political correctness, is hurting the very minority groups that silence is supposed to protect, by driving Europe’s citizens into the welcoming arms of populist forces. Europe’s political leaders cannot continue to bury their heads in the sand, avoiding “delicate” issues and abandoning the territory to extremists and inciters of hate and intolerance.

As a result, foreign conflicts are being imported onto our continent where perpetrators seek to shed blood of those who do not approve of their extremist worldview as in the recent terrorist attack on the Jewish museum in Brussels where four innocent people were brutally murdered.

These two extremes, increasingly feeding off the hate and violence of the other, are tearing our continent, our countries and our cities apart.

Some have argued that the future of the European Union is plunging towards crisis and too few are fighting back. It is time that we, the citizens of Europe, take back our continent and ensure the future that we deserve.

The results of these elections are a wake-up call for Europe’s citizens. Disengagement from the political process through apathy does indeed allow extremists to win through. What has happened to the parliamentary chambers in Brussels and Strasbourg can easily be replicated in the national parliaments of the European Union.

A few days ago we commemorated D-Day, when our fathers and grandfathers began the long fight back against tyranny. Our heritage, our responsibility to the fallen heroes and martyrs of World War II should give us the strength to place insurmountable obstacles against a new fascist advance.

The Europeans of the first half of the Twentieth Century failed to do it. Can we avoid repeating their mistakes in the early Twenty-First Century?

Dr. Moshe Kantor

President of the European Jewish Congress

www.eurojewcong.org