President of the European Jewish Congress
On the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence, the European Jewish Congress together with the World Jewish Congress, joined efforts with the European Leadership Network, B’nai B’rith International, the American Jewish Committee, the European Coalition for Israel and the European Union of Jewish Students to demonstrate their solidarity with the State of Israel and shed light on its astonishing achievements. This initiative led to an unprecedented joint celebration in Brussels.
Yesterday’s celebration was an excellent illustration of the fact that Israel has plenty of friends in Europe. Dozens of MEPs across the political spectrum, ambassadors and high-level officials at the European institutions came together to express their friendship, because celebrating the anniversary of Israel is a nonpartisan issue.
In seventy years, the Jewish state has made the deserts bloom, created the most remarkable hub of technological innovation, taken the lead in addressing global environmental challenges and guaranteed liberty and prosperity for all its citizens, regardless of their background.
Nevertheless, seventy years after the establishment of an independent State of Israel, seventy-four years after the end of the Shoah, which destroyed a third of world Jewry and decades after the forced exodus of almost a million Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, antisemitism has reached an unprecedented and alarming scale.
Today, Jewish communities across the world face existential challenges. The general feeling among Jews is that antisemitism has entered a new phase. Jewish citizens are attacked by the far-Left, the far-Right and radical Islamists, on the streets, in parliaments, online and in their own homes.
Today, much of the hatred against Jews is disguised, especially on the far-Left, as a hatred of Israel. The irrational rejection of the Jewish People did not end with its return to its national, spiritual and historic homeland. This animosity merely morphed into a new insidious form, which now treats Israel as it has treated Jewish communities for many centuries.
Almost all of the classic antisemitic motifs and manifestations are now used against Israel, including blood libels, notions of global dominance and the general singling out of the only Jewish State.
The lessons of the Holocaust have been forgotten, fading with the sands of time and a new open and mainstream antisemitism is spreading. Jewish communities worldwide require massive protection and security, which is having a grave effect on Jewish life in many parts of the world. This cannot continue.
Antisemitism has become a sign of a profound societal sickness and is a danger not only to Jews, but to countries and citizens across the globe. Hatred and intolerance are everyone’s problem, and we expect all layers of civil society to be at the forefront of this battle.
We need to end hate speech and incitement to violence online, in religious institutions and on the streets. We need to strengthen the tools with which governmental and law enforcement agencies have to fight antisemitism and other forms of hate.
Above all, we need to find a new way to educate against hate, racism and antisemitism, because the lessons of the past are no longer understood. We desperately require a new way of thinking because our future depends on it.
Together, on the occasion of Israel’s Independence Day and its achievements as a beacon of hope and progress in the world, we call for an end to hate and intolerance, not just for the Jewish People, but for all peoples across the globe.