BRUSSELS —‘’The efforts to combat anti-Semitism and to protect the Jews of Europe are sincerely appreciated but what is the message when elected officials march with the Jewish community one day and against Israel the next?, asked Yuli Edelestein, Speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in an address Wednesday to a ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the European Parliament.
He continued, ‘’When leaders embrace the local rabbi in solidarity after a hate crime and treat Hamas as a legitimate voice? When an attack is condemned as anti-Semitic and then Israel is denounced for fabricated war crimes?.
Edelstein said these contradictory messages ‘’do not build trust but instead, they prevent us from meeting our joint obligations.’’
‘’What has been learned from all the memorials if synagogues across Europe need round-the-clock protection? Is Holocaust education effective if Jews on this continent don`t wear a kippah or a Star of David necklace for fear of attack,? he asked.
He criticized a delegation of the European Parliament that recently paid a visit to Tehran for not mentioning the annual cartoon contest organized by the Iranian that ridiculed the Holocaust using the oldest and worst anti-Semitic stereotypes.
Edelstein showed the piece of ”art” that took first prize and outrageously suggested that the Jewish People exploit the Holocaust for financial gain at the world`s expense.
In a speech to the Belgian Parliament a day before, Edelstein cited the case of a Belgian teacher who won a cash prize in Iran for a cartoon demeaning the Holocaust and returned home to lavish praise.
“After he won the award, his hometown here in Belgium named him a ‘cultural ambassador par excellence.’ To judge from his cartoon, however, I am not certain what culture he represents,” Edelstein said.
In the European Parliament, he stressed that ‘’for `Never Again` to really mean Never Again, consistent and sincere actions are necessary.’’ ‘’Antisemitism – wherever it rears its ugly head, for whatever reason, is wrong and must be fought at every turn,’’ he said, adding that ‘’writing off such acts as mere opposition to Israel is absurd.’’
‘’Anti-Semitism has no excuse – not religion, not poverty, not lack of education, and not political disagreements.’’
‘’Together, we can declare an end to anti-Semitism and achieve the vision to which we re-commit ourselves today: Never Again! Nunca más! Plus jamais! Mai più! Nie wieder! Never Again! (in Hebrew)”
In his address, Edelstein also invited Europeans to do the same as the US which last month recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, ‘’ acknowledging both our ancient heritage and our modern history.’’
‘’Join me for a visit in my capital, that is dedicated to improving human condition through healthcare, hi tech, and spiritual elevation for members of all faiths,’’ he said.
In her opening speech to the Holocaust remembrance ceremony, Mairead McGuiness, Vice President of the European Parliament, said: “The notion of never again is one deeply engrained in the psyche of the European Union. It is useful the recall that the European project is at its roots a project of peace and reconciliation, of seeking forgiveness for the evils committed in our continent in those dark days. “
The ceremony was held together with the European Jewish Congress (EJC) and the Conference of European Rabbis (CER).
EJC President Moshe Kantor noted that there was a marked increase in anti-Semitism and called for better education about where intolerance can lead. “Jewish people in Europe are still facing a constant threat,” he said.
”During 2017, the number of anti-Semitic incidents escalated in the UK, France, Germany, Sweden and other parts of Europe,” he said.
”Because of the constant threat, synagogues and Jewish community centers in many European countries have been put under massive 24-hour police protection.”
He noted that less than a month ago, synagogues in Malmo and Gothenburg were firebombed ”because of the absurd belief that European Jews are to be blamed for a diplomatic statement from a leader, thousands of miles away, describing the self-evident truth that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.”
”Attacks on Jewish individuals and institutions cannot be justified and are unacceptable in any context, period. We should not have to repeat this year after year,” Kantor said.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is commemorated every year on 27 January, marking the day in 1945 Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp.