Antisemitism strikes at the heart of the European Union

Disclaimer: all opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of PLC.
CEJI director Robin Sclafani.

New members of the European Parliament need to break the cycle of antisemitism in the European Union, writes Robin Sclafani.

Robin Sclafani is director of CEJI-A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe. CEJI is a long-term member of the European Network Against Racism.

The European Union was set up with the aim of ending the frequent and bloody wars between neighbours, reeling from the shock of what conspired in the Holocaust during World War II. 

As the new European Parliament and European Commission take shape, protests invoking “death to the Jews” have hit the streets of many European cities while social media facilitates a barrage of hate speech.  Arguments that these incidents are caused by the exchange of fire between Hamas and Israel are invalid as we have witnessed an escalation of violent attacks against Jewish people and places over the last year, such as the murders at the Brussels Jewish Museum in May.  For at least the last decade, it is simply not safe for a person to publically display symbols of their Jewishness in some parts of Europe, including in Brussels, the capital of the European Union.

New members of the European Parliament need to take responsibility to break the cycle of bias and bigotry, in Parliament as well as within home constituencies and with colleagues. Regarding antisemitism, this means:

  • not linking Israeli politics and actions to Jews in general nor making comparisons with the Holocaust, Nazis, Hitler or apartheid
  • not invoking Jewish stereotypes, myths and conspiracy theories in political commentary
  • not pitting one community against another by instrumentalizing issues, such as Jewish security or Israel, in order to crack down on another community with discriminatory policies.

The European Parliament and the European Commission must ensure they are not only spectators to the threat and reality of antisemitism which continues to thrive in the European Union. They must ensure the freedom of Jewish people, with all their diversity, to live in safety and security so that they can continue an active role in European society.

One concrete action would be to pass hate crime legislation within European Criminal Law so that responses and penalties to bias-motivated crime are considered within common standards across the EU. Another would be to develop initiatives that effectively combat hate speech on the internet and the proliferation of hate ideologies through social media.

Putting forward education policies and standards that develop intercultural and anti-bias competencies, and make effective use of Holocaust education to overcome antisemitism and hatred of all kinds in a modern-day context, is also crucial. 

There is enough to despair about in Europe today in terms of discrimination, social exclusion, and violence and hate crime – against Jews, Muslims, Roma, Blacks, Migrants, LGBT, Disabled people, and others. There is no hierarchy which makes one more important than another, but, we must deal with the specificities of antisemitism.

Sometimes referred to as the “oldest hatred,” persecution of the Jewish people existed before there was Christianity or Islam, before the Middle East conflict. While it may not manifest itself in the same kind of economic discrimination as some other forms of racism in Europe today, it remains still a virulent, insidious, cross-cutting, and often violent hatred which strikes at the heart of the European Union.  



Curatica's picture

Sounds like very good news!

Regarding the author’s grievances:

1. True, Israel politics is defined and implemented by Patagonians.
2. True, but why did Shimon Peres say that the Jews (sorry, the “Israelis”) own Poland, Romania and Manhattan? And of course, he meant “America” not “Manhattan”.
3. This seems to conflict with 1 and 2.

Good points: whoever claims that the Jews are visceral thieves, liars and occasionally murderers should be guillotined, by law and burnt at the stake. Europe may end up quite unpopulated, though....

Strike's picture

There are almost no Jews in Poland or Romania. It's absurd. Have you been there? All the Jews were killed or fled.

However, you can go on blaming and hating the non-existent Jews. Meanwhile you have made allies with jihadis who think your women are whores and you should convert or die. It seems quite fitting, actually. European civilization won't exist in 50 years and the Jews have nothing to do with it -- you murdered them and by doing so, you made your own grave.

Mike Parr's picture

You are talking utter & complete bollocks with respect to EU member states and their non-support for assorted muslim headbangers.

Violence in any shape or form needs to be opposed. This should include, for example, demonstrations in Europe in favour of Hamas (part of the current problem) or demos by Jews in favour of Israel (also part of the problem). Those who are aggressive to people on the basis of religion need medical treatment - because these is something seriously mentally wrong with them. As long as people go about their normal business without bothering others they should be left in peace - those that are unable to do this have no place in society.

Strike's picture

I'm an atheist. I agree, any people who think they have a right to force their stupid beliefs on others are dangerous and insane.
My only point was that the Jews who used to live in Europe never tried to convert anybody, but the Muslims you have now are extremely dangerous people. And while as I said I am an atheist, I do believe that actions have consequences, and the massacre of the Jewish population of Europe opened the door to these insane jihadis. And the jihadis will in turn massacre the population of Europe. You, like most Europeans, appear to be incapable of distinguishing right from wrong or better from worse. That, combined with an obsessive drive toward moral and cultural relativism, is the reason why Europe is going to fall and cease to exist as a civilization. It is quite comfortable to sit back and say that all religious people should have their heads examined -- and I agree. But Europe has allowed them in, in vast numbers, unprecedented in the history of the Continent. At no time were there more than 9.5M Jews living in the totality of Europe, in 1933, before most of them fled or were killed. They were among the most educated, literate, civilized and most importantly _integrated_ people on the Continent. There are currently over 50M Muslims living in Europe. Most of them have not integrated, have no desire to integrate into their host countries, and openly or quietly believe that European civilization is weak, powerless, and will eventually submit to their jihad.

And guess what, they're right. It will. Because people like you fail to realize that at times violence must be met with violence. Always you will accommodate fascism, racism, misogyny, totalitarian communism, and hate -- just so long as your hands are clean. The great historical irony is that it will be your turn against the wall next. The Jews will outlive European civilization -- and outlive the Muslims as well. The joke is on you.