Representatives from 27 European Jewish communities met in Paris, 12th December, to discuss European Jewry’s current challenges in Europe. The aim of the meeting was to generate practical strategies to resolve problems such as: the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, the delegitimization of Israel, the Iranian threat and the right to perform Shechita.
EJC President welcomed the Enlarged Executive and provided a summary of the latest events in which he has participated and chaired within the European Council for Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), the Luxembourg Forum and the EJC, particularly mentioning his meeting with President of the European Council Van Rompuy, together with Richard Prasquier, during an all day interfaith conference between Rabbis and Imams in Brussels. This was followed by introductory addresses from CRIF President Richard Prasquier and EJC Council Chair Flo Kaufman.
Haím Musicant, Director General of CRIF, gave a review of the current state of anti-Semitism in France, identifying the two sources as the extreme right-wing and radical Islamists. He put forward a number of ideas to improve the situation, focusing particularly on interfaith and interreligious work with the Muslim community of France.
During the session titled, “State of antisemitism in Europe” by Paul Edlin from the Board of Deputies (UK) took the chair introducing updates from the Greek community President David Saltiel on the ongoing Plevris affair, the notorious anti-Semite currently taking members of human rights groups and members of the Jewish community to court; and from Vilhelm Silberstein, representative for the Nordic countries, on the state of anti-Semitism in Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
Mike Whine, Director of Government and International Affairs of Community Security Trust (CST) and Defence Director at the Board of Deputies (UK), presented a report on combating anti-Semitism in Europe, including a number of practices that he advised be put into place within each European community.
A brief update on the situation of the European Parliament Food Information regulation concerning the labeling of all meat slaughtered by the method of shechita was given by Claudia De Benedetti (Italy), who led the session dedicated to this topic. Ruben Vis (Netherlands) and Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt (Russia) gave short presentations.
Maurice Sosnowski (Belgium) chaired the section devoted to the delegitimization of Israel and introduced a discourse from Chief Rabbi Bleich (Ukraine) and then Peter Feldmajer, President of the Hungarian community. Discussion followed on international media bias and the ongoing threat of academic and economic boycotts of Israel. EJC President Kantor drew links between the delegitimization of Israel and the Iranian threat, stating, “It is Iran that is behind it all.”
EJC President Kantor highlighted the urgency of the Iranian nuclear project as “the biggest threat facing the Jewish community, and the wider global community today!” Special guest, Benjamin Krasna, Director of Political-Economic Research and Analysis at the Center for Policy Research, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem expanded on the Iranian problem in his presentation. He spoke of the positive initiatives already taken towards sanctions from the EU, and the work that still needs to be done.
Ariel Muzicant (Austria) also offered his insights into the worrying possibility of a nuclear Iran.
With regards to the future work of the EJC, the Secretary General, Serge Cwajgenbaum, put forward his three-fold EJC action plan to confront the three main concerns of the Jews in Europe, namely, the rise of anti-Semitism, the delegitimization of Israel and the Iranian threat, and establishing interfaith dialogue between Jews and Muslims. His proposals were met with affirmation and agreement.
At the conclusion of the meeting, host EJC President Kantor thanked all the participants for contributing to a highly constructive meeting.
In attendance were: EJC President Moshe Kantor, Chairman of the EJC Council Flo Kaufman, EJC Secretary General Serge Cwajgenbaum, EJC Deputy Secretary General Raya Kalenova, Special advisor to the EJC President Arie Zuckerman, special guest from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem Benjamin Krasna, CRIF President Richard Prasquier, CRIF Director General Haí¿m Musicant, Ariel Muzicant (Austria), Maurice Sosnowski (Belgium), Ognjen Kraus (Croatia), Tomas Kraus (Czech Republic), Gideon Bolotowsky (Finland), Stephan Kramer (Germany), Douglas Ryan (Gibraltar), David Saltiel and Benjamin Albalas (Greece), Peter Feldmajer (Hungary), Leonard Abrahamson (Ireland), Claudia De Benedetti and Cobi Benatoff (Italy), Alex Rutman (Latvia), Michel Bulz (Luxembourg), Goran Sadikarijo (Macedonia), Ruben Vis (Netherlands), Willy Silberstein (Nordic countries), Piotr Kadlcik (Poland), Josí© Oulman Carp (Portugal), Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt (Russia), Michael Kohn and Gabrielle Rosenstein (Switzerland), Adil Anjel (Turkey), Chief Rabbi Yaakov Bleich (Ukraine), Paul Edlin and Alex Faiman (UK), Maram Stern (WJC Brussels), Mike Whine (CST – UK), Benjamin Zagzag (EUJS) and EJC staff Myriam Glikerman, Naomi Firsht, Michel Lamy and Ariella Woitchik.
The meeting was followed by a gala dinner at which the guest of honour was, French Minister of State and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, MichíÂle Alliot-Marie.