Monday, 27 Jan 2020 - 1 of Shevat, 5780

EU Commission Vice-President to lead fight against antisemitism, ‘There would be no European culture without Jewish culture and there would be no Europe without Jewish people,’ says Ursula von der Leyen

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EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen: “As a rising challenge needs a stronger response from our side, iI have entrusted my Vice-President for Promoting our European way of life, Margaritis Schinas, to lead the fight against anti-Semitism.”

Schinas, who is the outgoing chief spokesperson of the European Commission, will be supported by a new dedicated team, who would work with the European Commission Coordinator for combatting anti-Semitism, Katharina von Schnurbein, and for fostering Jewish life.

 

BRUSSELS—“Anti-Semitism is a poison for our community. The fight against anti-Semitism is as much for every other part of our community as it is for Jewish people. And it is one which must be led at local, regional, national and European level. We must all do our part. It is up to all to fight it, to prevent it and to eradicate it,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at a high-level event “After Halle: from words to action against anti-Semitism” which took place this week in Brussels.

On 9 October 2019 in Halle, Germany, Jewish congregants were attacked in front of their local synagogue and two persons were killed. This happened on the day of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.

“Today we honour those young victims who got killed while simply living their lives in front of the local synagogue. We stand together with their families and their loved ones, as they go through trauma which no one should ever have to,” said President von der Leyen.

Jewish communities have in recent years repeatedly become targets of anti-Semitic attacks. Consequences and repercussions of these attacks impact all of us, our way of life, our values and our tolerance, von der Leyen stressed in her speech.

She mentioned the attacks against the Brussels Jewish Museum, the Kosher supermarket in Paris, the Jewish school in Toulouse, the Synagogue in Halle. ‘’And in the last days alone we have seen a Rabbi beaten up on the streets of London, and Jewish cemeteries vandalised in Wertheim,’’ she added.

‘’For every one of those incidents we see in the news, there are many more which happen every single day across our Union. They may be smaller and less violent in nature, but they are real and they are on the rise. And they create an atmosphere in which Jews no longer feel safe and start doubting their future in Europe,’’ von der Leyen said.

She  announced the European Union would continue to build on the work done in the past years, at all levels – through security means, in education systems and in public debates.

She said: “As a rising challenge needs a stronger response from our side, iI have entrusted my Vice-President for Promoting our European way of life, Margaritis Schinas, to lead the fight against anti-Semitism.”

Schinas, who is the outgoing chief spokesperson of the European Commission, will be supported by a new dedicated team, who would work with the European Commission Coordinator for combatting anti-Semitism, Katharina von Schnurbein, and for fostering Jewish life.

She added that ‘’fostering Jewish life is something which I have always taken very seriously,’’ as she reminded that as German Defense Minister she decided to reintroduce after 100 years Rabbis as chaplains in the Bundeswehr – the German armed forces – together with Christian priests.

‘’This is as important for Jewish soldiers as it is for the rest of the armed forces. It is a way to learn about the different cultures that together build a common European culture.  There would be no European culture without Jewish culture. And there would be no Europe without Jewish people.’’

 

  

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