Merkel pledges protection for Jews in Germany

Amid repeated terrorist attacks on Jewish sites in Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged greater efforts to provide security for Jews in Germany. [Christliches Medienmagazin pro/Flickr]

In the wake of the terror attacks in Copenhagen, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on European Jews to emigrate to Israel, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged protection for Jews in Germany. EURACTIV Germany reports.

“We, from the German government, state governments and all authorities in Germany will do everything possible to ensure the security of Jewish sites and the security of citizens of Jewish descent,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday (16 February) in Berlin.

Merkel’s words were a reaction to calls from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for European Jews to emigrate to the State of Israel.

“We would like to continue living well together with the Jews who are in Germany today,” Merkel said. “We are glad and thankful that there is Jewish life in Germany again.”

After terror attacks in Copenhagen last weekend, Netanyahu had called on Jews living in Europe to move to the Jewish state. “Jews have been murdered on European soil, only because they were Jews,” he said.

The shootings on a cafe and a synagogue in Copenhagen resulted in three deaths, including that of the assailant. Speaking to Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt by telephone on Sunday (15 February), Chancellor Merkel expressed her condolences over the attacks.

>>Read: Danish PM promises new measures to fight terrorism after attacks in Copenhagen

Merkel pledged that Germany stands close by its neighbour, Denmark, and assured Thorning-Schmidt of close cooperation in the future on measures to combat terrorism.

Greater security measures needed

The President of the German Council of Jews, Josef Schuster, on Monday called for greater vigilance from security authorities.

“Whoever believes that the terror attacks in Paris were a unique occurrence, is unfortunately horribly mistaken. The terrorism against Islam-critical journalists and Jewish sites has ultimately reached the middle of Europe,” Schuster warned. Evidently, the existing security measures prevented worse bloodshed from happening.

“We are appealing to security authorities to remain alert and again make efforts to critically examine security measures for Jewish sites,” Schuster continued. “Under this condition, Jewish life will also still be possible in Germany,” he said.

Emigration to Israel “not a solution”

According Charlotte Knobloch, President of the Jewish Religious Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria, “an exodus of European Jews to Israel is not a solution to the massive threat posed by Islamist terrorism”. The latter threatens European democracies as a whole, she said. Whoever attacks Jews in Europe, is attacking the entire European society and its values of freedom, Knobloch explained.

“From my personal experience, it is my view that Israel needs a strong and powerful diaspora – and that also includes, among others, European Jews,” she indicated.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called on Jews to stay in France. “My message to French Jews is the following: France is wounded with you and France does not want you to leave the country,” he said.

France has the largest Jewish community in Western Europe and has been exposed to repeated hostilities and abuses.

On Sunday, over 200 graves were desecrated in a Jewish cemetery in the Sarre-Union commune of France’s Alsace region. The culprits have not yet been identified.

A few weeks ago, an Islamist-related attack on a Kosher grocery store in Paris result in multiple deaths. Shortly after the tragedy, Netanyahu advised French Jews to emigrate to Israel.

Cooperation in fighting terrorism intensified among EU countries after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks in the US, and even more so after the Madrid and London bombings in 2004 and 2005.

“In reaction to 9/11, the EU developed the European Arrest Warrant. But we need to do more,” said Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council which brings together the 28 EU heads of states and government.

Tusk was reacting to the January 2015 assault on the satirical paper Charlie Hebdo, and the subsequent terrorist attacks in Paris, in which 17 people were killed.

Immediately after the Paris attacks, European officials pledged to reinforce cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

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