All across Europe, the military are guarding synagogues and Jewish monuments and anti-Semitism is on the rise. Last years, 10,000 European Jews left Europe and settled in Israel, 8,000 from France alone, the double compared with 2014. France, thus, home to the largest Jewish population in Europe, set a record for the migration of Jews to Israel.
In 1991, there were still some 2 declared Jews in Europe, but that figure fell to 1,4 million today. Anti-Semitism and attacks against Jews in Europe have grown in recent years. The phenomenon became so worrying, that the EU Parliament organised on Tuesday a conference dedicated to “The future of the Jewish communities in Europe”.
Vice-President Antonio Tajani (EPP, IT), who is responsible for inter-religious dialogue for the Parliament, opened the conference by saying “The faces of anti-Semitism are many, but the virus is one. Deluding ourselves that Europe is immune is the biggest mistake. There is no incentive to keep our guard up if we fail to see that anti-Semitism is still alive among us too, even where persecution and discrimination have eliminated any Jewish presence. The greatest danger for Europe is to be impoverished in its history and culture by a slow and steady exodus of European Jews. It is against this risk that we must be united and determined”.
Among the invited guests, who who took part in the debates, were former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth Lord Jonathan Sacks, who delivered speech on “The Mutating Virus: Understanding Anti-Semitism”, European Rabbis Conference President Pinchas Goldschmidt, Brussels Chief Rabbi Albert Guigui and French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy.
MEPs Fulvio Martusciello (EPP, IT), President of the delegation to Israel, Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE), Vice-Chair of the Working Group on Anti-Semitism, and Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar (S&D, ES), Chair of the Working Group, led the panel discussions respectively on the current situation on Anti-Semitism in Europe, national patterns and experiences and future prospects.
The event was organised in the context of TFEU Art. 17, which provides for an open, transparent and regular dialogue with EU institutions and churches, religious associations, and philosophical and non-confessional organisations.
This is the second event in 2016. The first was held in April and concerned European Muslims facing radicalisation. Other events in this context took place in 2015, covering tackling radicalism and fundamentalism through education and the persecution of Christians in the world.
More that 50 percent of Jewish communities across the continent reported a decline in the number of active members of the Jewish community, as a direct result of an increase of anti-Semitism.
Only about 11 % of communities across Europe reported an increase in members, and 39 % of the communities reported that there was no change in the number of registered community members. 75 % of the communities reported an increased vigilance by various governments to the dangers faced by Jews in light of the growing Anti-Semitism since last year.
As the former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks told MEPs in the debate in the EU Parliament: “The hate that begins with Jews doesn’t stop with Jews. Anti-Semitism is a threat for the whole of Europe.”