Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 - 21 of Av, 5779

There is no antisemitism in Montenegro

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In his address, President Dukoanovic said the EJA award is ‘’dedicated to the people of Montenegro’s accomplishment of building a tolerant, inclusive and pluralistic society based on the principles of mutual respect and coexistence.’’

BRUSSELS—Montenegro is one of the few countries in Europe where after the war, there were more Jews than before, said the country’s president Milo Dukanovic who notes that in the small Balkan nation‘’there is no antisemitism’’ contrary to other countries in the region.

He made the remarks in an address after receiving the first ever ‘’European King David Award,’’ from the European Jewish Association (EJA) Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin.

President Dukanovic was honored by the Jewish group ‘’in recognition for his huge contribution in safeguarding Jewish life in Montenegro and building a tolerant society that should be emulated across the European continent.’’

The award ceremony took place in the European Jewish building, next to the European Council in Brussels, in the presence of ambassadors, members of the European parliament and other dignitaries. The president of the Jewish community of Montenegro, Dorde Raicewic,and the country’s rabbi, Rabbi Ari Edelkopf, were also present.

The President met with with Senior representatives of European Jewry, including the chief Rabbi of the Netherlands, the president of the Belgian League against antisemitism, and the Secretary General of B’nei Brith Europe, amongst others, who reported on the rising levels of antisemitism and hate crimes in their countries.

In stark contrast, the President of the Montenegrin Jewish Community and Rabbi Ari Edelkopf spoke about how Jews are welcomed, how there is no security needed at Jewish buildings and that it is safe to walk the streets.

In his address, President Dukoanovic said the EJA award is ‘’dedicated to the people of Montenegro’s accomplishment of building a tolerant, inclusive and pluralistic society based on the principles of mutual respect and coexistence.’’

Jews are known to have lived in Montenegro ( a former Yugoslav Republic)  in ancient and medieval times. The Jewish community in the country  is one of the youngest Jewish communities in the world, having been officially registered in July 2011. At the end of January 2012, the Jewish community and the government signed the Act on Mutual Relations whereby Judaism was recognized as the fourth official religion of Montenegro.

During the celebration of Chanukah in  Montenegro, there is no need for security measures, noted President Dukanovic. Moreover, there is great respect for Jewish people and their contribution to world civilization.

Montenegro, which declared independence in 2006 and is currently negotiating to join the EU,  is a highly multi-confessional country and there is no public manifestation of anti-Semitism. During the celebration of Chanukah, there is no need for security measures, noted President Dukanovic. Moreover, there is great respect for Jewish people and their contribution to world civilization.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the Chairman of the EJA, prior to presenting the award, said as part of his speech,

“Montenegro may be a relatively small country, but even a small light can burn darkness away,” declared Rabbi Margolin in his speech.

”The deep darkness of antisemitism is spreading across Europe. France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and many others, the oldest hatred is finding its voice again in dark corners and spreading like a malignant virus,” he added.

He continued: ”Time and time again we hear European leaders saying enough is enough, but little changes and the darkness keeps spreading. These countries must embrace and enshrine not only the Montenegrin Model of co-existence, but welcome the country into the European Union where it can provide a leading and immensely valuable role in fighting the scourge of antisemitism.”

Today there are around 300 Jews living in the country, mainly in the capital Podgorica. Every year, thousands of Israeli tourists visit the country.

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