UWI Rabbi Ari Enkin (R) and EU staffer Mattia Zilli. (Zilli photo: European Commission) UWI Rabbi Ari Enkin (R) and EU staffer Mattia Zilli. (Zilli photo: European Commission)
EU Israel

A European Union official cursed Zionism in an email response to United with Israel’s rabbinic director, reflecting deep anti-Israel sentiment.

Rabbi Ari Enkin, rabbinic director at United with Israel (UWI), received anti-Israel hate [e]mail on Sunday from an employee at the European Commission, which, according to its website, “is the EU’s [European Union’s] executive body and represents the interests of Europe as a whole.”

EU Israel

Rabbi Enkin, on behalf of UWI, sends out regular emails with newsletters to subscribers only. UWI does not send unsolicited email. The crude hate mail from the EU employee, which contained foul language, was sent to Rabbi Enkin’s personal email address in response to a UWI newsletter.

Signed by Mattia Zilli, project officer, European Commission, Research Executive Agency, the email said, “STOP f…ing writing me about your Zionist bulls..t.”

(The foul language was spelled out in full in the original email.)

Surprised that an EU employee would openly display such vitriol against the State of Israel, UWI emailed Dennis Abbott, press spokesperson for the Marie Curie Actions Program, apprising him of the situation and asking whether any action would be taken, to which he simply responded, with no salutation:

“I’ve asked Mattia to reply to you. Best, Dennis.”

EU Official’s Signature Appeared on UWI Petition

UWI received no further correspondence from Zilli. After investigating further, the organization noted that Zilli had subscribed to the UWI newsletter back in 2011, and in 2012 he signed a UWI petition against Iran’s nuclear program. Although it is possible that another individual had signed up with Zilli’s name and email address, Zilli had ample time to unsubscribe in a civilized fashion.

UWI also found an email from Zilli sent last week, in reaction to having received a newsletter with an article about the Fatah-Hamas unity government and several pieces about the Jewish holiday of Shavuot – in which he wrote: “Spare me your Zionist bulls..t.”

All Zilli had to do, in order to stop receiving UWI emails, was to click the “unsubscribe” option below. Instead, he revealed what appears to be profound animosity towards Zionism while using an official EU email address.

united with israel

Koen Doens, European Commission spokesperson. (Photo: European Commission)

UWI then emailed Koen Doens, head of the spokespersons’ service at the European Commission, asking for comment and whether any action would be taken. He replied:

“Our services will immediately look into this. Meanwhile, rest assured that the staff member of the European Commission will be told that the language used – regardless of whether or not this is in response to real or perceived harassment – is fully unacceptable. The matter will be followed up internally.”

UWI asked Doens whether he was suggesting that Mattia may have been responding to “real or perceived harassment.”

“The meaning of my sentence was to indicate that, whatever the reason Mattia may come forward with, it is not relevant to justify the remark he made, and there should be no ambiguity about this,” Doens stated.

“We at United with Israel are deeply saddened by Mr. Zilli’s repeated hateful and anti-Zionist comments,” David Zeit, UWI’s executive director, said. “We hope that his hatred toward Israel is not representative of the European Commission’s view of the Jewish State.”

Hate Mail Sent on Day that EU-Israel Agreement Signed

The European Commission offices where Zilli works are located in Brussels, Belgium, where the fatal terrorist shooting of four people two weeks ago took place at the Jewish Museum.

Rabbi Enkin received the hate mail on the same day that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso attended the signing ceremony in Jerusalem on Israel’s accession to Horizon 2020 – the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

Well-known for his ecumenical and outreach work with people of diverse faiths and political persuasions, Rabbi Enkin said he was “shocked and saddened” and that he would have appreciated a personal apology.

Author: Atara Beck
Senior Writer/Editor, United with Israel