The European Jewish Congress (EJC) participated in a commemoration ceremony in honour of Mireille Knoll Z”L at the French embassy in Brussels. Ms.Knoll, a, 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, was murdered in her home in Paris on Friday, March 23 2018. The event was an initiative of the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS).
EJC Director of Legal and Public Affairs, Ariella Woitchik and EUJS President Alina Bricman met with the French Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, H.E. Amb. Claude-France Arnould to express their solidarity to the Knoll family and to the French people, and discussed the pain and shock felt by Jews across Europe in the aftermath of this horrific tragedy.
Following the meeting, Ms. Woitchik, together with Ms. Bricman and Yohan Benizri, President of the Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jewish Organizations (CCOJB), the country’s EJC affiliate, addressed the crowd of over 100 attendees who had joined the ceremony.
In her address, Ms. Woitchik paid tribute to Mireille Knoll and to all victims who have fallen to antisemitic terror in Europe, stressing the urgent need to take action so that these crimes stop happening:
“Holding her mother’s hand and a forged passport, Mireille Knoll escaped the roundup of Vel D’Hiv of 1942 as a 9-year-old child. Following the roundup, 4.000 children were deported to Auschwitz. Very few came back.
Instead, Mireille Knoll was given a new chance at life, she went on to build a family and a business in her native Paris.
Last Friday, in her own home, she was stabbed 11 times and set on fire. One of the perpetrators was a boy from the neighbourhood she had known since he was seven. A boy who had been a guest at her house.
In the words of her grandchildren, Mireille Knoll did not believe in evil in people, she was brave, and gentle, and sweet, and Jewish at heart. She could be everyone’s grandmother. May her memory be a blessing.
Her death was as senseless as her life was meaningful. The horror that came for her seventy-six years ago came back again, and this time she was not able to escape.
How is this possible, how are human beings capable of this?
And indeed they are. The same monstrous depravity that took the life of Mireille Knoll also took the life of Sarah Halimi one year ago, of Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab and François-Michel Saada, as well as Dan Uzan three years ago, of Jonathan Sandler, his two young sons Arieh and Gabriel, and Myriam Monsonego six years ago; and of Ilan Halimi twelve years ago.
Their lives were put to an end cruelly and viciously. Their friends and families were deprived of their smiles, simply because they were Jewish.
We, the European Jewish Congress, representing 42 Jewish communities in Europe, stand in solidarity with the Knoll family, the French Jewish community and the French Republic.
The sheer perversity of these hate crimes should not only shock all of us, it should serve as a final wake-up call for French and European leaders that more must be done, not just to protect Jewish communities and institutions, but also all individuals at risk.
As antisemitic violence becomes again a daily reality in Europe, I am reminded of the words of Primo Levi: ‘The plague of the Shoah has died away, but the infection still lingers and it would be foolish to deny it. Rejection of human solidarity, cynical indifference to the suffering of others, and above all, at the root of everything, a sweeping tide of cowardice.’
As we mourn yet another senseless tragedy, we must call on European society not to be indifferent to our suffering any longer, not to treat these events as simply “another Jewish tragedy”, but to stop with this cowardice and denounce these evil crimes and the monstrous ideology that fuels them, which is radical Islam.
The only way to find justice for Mireille and all other victims is to fight the evil of Islamist terrorism and stand together for the European values that we all cherish.
Subsequently, Chief Rabbi of Belgium Albert Guigui recited Kaddish for Ms. Knoll.
Several commemoration ceremonies in honour of Ms. Knoll took place across French and European cities on the same day.