Marking International Holocaust Day, Jean-Claude Juncker issued a statement in which he warned of the effects of rising anti-Semitism in Europe, adding that “a Europe without Jews would be no longer Europe.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker lamented the surge of anti-Semitism on the Continent while saying that the EU must combat this phenomenon, a moral obligation which is an outcome of Europe’s dark history.
In a statement issued to the Jewish community in Europe on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2016 which is marked on Wednesday, Juncker conceded his was frightened by the extreme levels of Jew hatred Europe was now witnessing, merely seven decades after the end of the Holocaust.
“I never imagined a rabbi in Marseille would have to tell his community it might be better to hide the “kippa” [head covering worn by observant Jewish men]. I never imagined that Jewish schools and Synagogues would have to be guarded. I never imagined a Europe where Jews feel so insecure that immigration to Israel reaches an all-time high,” Juncker stated.
Several recent reports on the state of anti-Semitism in Europe have all pointed to a sharp increase in Jew hatred and attacks on Jewish targets, while “Aliyah” (immigration to Israel) reached a 12-year high in 2015.
“Europe cannot and will not accept this,” he declared, adding that “attacks on Jews are attacks on all of us – against our way of living, against tolerance and against our identity.”
Europe must never forget its dark and violent past, he said. “This tragedy [the Holocaust] lies deep in our soul when we commemorate today the death of 6 million Jews – men, women and children – 6 million unlived lives.”
Reflecting on the past, he said it is “Europe’s responsibility is to remember for the future. Never again! This was the solemn promise of our founding fathers when they rebuilt this continent on the debris of World War II and the ashes of the Shoah [Holocaust].”
While Europe has come along way and fostered shared values which “are the foundation of our Union and our institutions,” Juncker said that “these values are not a given, we need to defend them every day – especially in difficult times. This is a matter of humanity and a historical responsibility.”
“We must counter the dangerous rise of extremism, racism, xenophobia, nationalism and Anti-Semitism. Our entire society has a duty to prevent Anti-Semitism and we must fight it on every corner – whether on the extreme right or the extreme left or when it is instigated by extreme Islamists,” he said.
The European Commission has recently taken measures to combat anti-Semitism by appointing a coordinator on combating anti-Semitism and through legislation tackling anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia and Holocaust denial.
“I want Europe to be a home for all communities. We are determined: Never again. Because a Europe of hate is one that we refuse. Because a Europe without Jews would be no longer Europe,” he concluded.
By: Max Gelber, United with Israel
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