Following the release of a survey indicating a surge in anti-Semitism across Europe, Jewish community leaders and members of Knesset met on Monday to discuss ways to combat the phenomenon.
”I`m afraid to open the paper and read about another Kristallnacht,” Knesset Member Yoel Rozbozov (Yesh Atid) said in his opening remarks.
The president of the Israeli-Jewish Congress (IJC), which organized the event, linked modern anti-Semitism to the attempts to delegitimize Israel worldwide.
According to Vladimir Sloutsker, the ”new anti-Israeli propaganda” depicts Israel as an inhumane, oppressive country and thus justifies the measures taken against the Jewish state.
These anti-Israeli sentiments, he said, are ”transferred” to the Jewish communities in Europe. The Anti-Semites, Sloutsker stated, believe Jews deserve to be treated harshly due to what they view as Israeli oppression of other nations.
A recent poll conducted by the European Union`s Agency for Fundamental Rights found that more than three-quarters of Europe`s Jews believe anti-Semitism is on the rise in their home countries and close to one-third have considered emigrating because they don`t feel safe.
The survey was released last Friday to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogroms in Nazi Germany.
”We are facing now one of the most difficult times” in Jewish history, the IJC president said.
MK Rozbozov said Israel must react to every anti-Semitic incident. ”We must not let this little fire turn into something bigger,” he said.
Shlomo Ben-Haim, a representative of the Jewish National Fund in Australia, was one of five Jews who were beaten recently as they were walking home from Shabbat dinner in Bondi, an eastern suburb of Sydney. Speaking to the Jewish leaders and MKs via Skype, the emissary said he was ”not ashamed” to admit that he is afraid.
Ben-Haim, whose wife was also among the victims, said he was ”disappointed and frustrated” because Australia has always been considered a ”paradise” without racism or anti-Semitism.
The emissary said he hoped the attack would ”awaken” the local Jewish community.
In a previous interview, Ben-Haim said the attackers yelled ”bloody Jews” during the melee.
Jewish French Parliament member Meyer Habib said during the discussion at the Knesset`s Negev Hall that radical Islam is a key contributor to the rise in anti-Semitic incidents throughout Europe, while MK Nissim Zeev called for more dialogue with moderate Muslim elements.
Ronen Hoffman, a lawmaker from the Yesh Atid faction, said the Knesset, in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry, was working vigorously to reverse a resolution passed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Council of Europe calling male ritual circumcision a ”violation of the physical integrity of children.”
MK Shimon Ohayon (Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu) said he was ”optimistic” regarding the chances that the resolution would be annulled because ”we have a partner on this issue – the Muslim world.”
Oyahon, who heads the Lobby for the Struggle Against Anti-Semitism, said anti-Jewish prejudice was being disseminated under the guise of anti-Zionism and urged Jewish communities abroad to build a cadre of young leaders who can counter anti-Semitic activity on university campuses.
”Otherwise, we are neglecting our future with regards to this issue; the future is on the campuses. If there are no cadres of leaders who can (fight anti-Semitism) with all the means, we will lose the war,” he stated.
MK Ohayon called on critics of the government at home to refrain from using terms such as ”racist country” when referring to Israel, saying such rhetoric emboldens anti-Semites abroad.
”We cannot conduct a campaign against anti-Semitism if we are not united,” Ohayon told the Jewish leaders.