In a joint action organized by the European Jewish Congress, synchronized protests took place in European capitals during the week of October 31st, demonstrating against the Iranian President’s recent statement that Israel “should be wiped off the map”.
On the 27th of October, the European Jewish Congress (EJC) issued an appeal to its affiliated Jewish communities in Europe to mobilize after the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad openly called for the destruction of the Jewish state during a Tehran seminar the day before, entitled “A World Without Zionism”.
European Jewish communities and local religious and human rights organizations quickly took up the initiative, staging protests in front of Iranian embassies and delivering letters of protest to their respective ambassador. The EJC provided a working text to affiliated European Jewish communities to add to their letter to Iranian ambassadors, calling on Ahmadinejad to publicly renounce his declarations, and to cease Iran’s active support of global terror and its clandestine program to develop nuclear weapons and facilities.
The letter stated, “Whereas Arab and Muslim states worldwide are beginning to fundamentally reassess their relationship with Israel, and Israelis and Palestinians are finally resuming promising dialogue, this irresponsible incitement to the eradication of Israel deliberately violates the Charter of the United Nations and ostracizes your country from the family of nations”.
The following protests took place:
France – At the call of the CRIF, the umbrella organization of Jewish communities in France, a diverse grouping of Jewish and human rights organizations organized a protest of around 5,000 people in front of the Iranian embassy in Paris on Wednesday night. Present were representatives of all major political parties, religious denominations and numerous civil society groups.
The protest was also marked by the presence of a particularly large youth contingent, following the call of French Jewish student groups.
To read a detailed account of the demonstration, including selected text of the speeches, please visit the website of the CRIF:
Rome and Milan- Around 15,000 joined in a massive protest in Rome on Thursday night, with representatives from almost all Italian political parties attending. The Union of Italian Jewish Communities participated in the event, which according to observers was one of the largest pro-Israeli rallies in Europe in recent times.
About 2,000 people gathered opposite the Iran consulate in Milan for a similar rally.
Norway – In Norway, the Jewish communal representative body of the city of Oslo delivered the joint EJC letter to the ambassador’s residence, followed by a group of demonstrators.
Denmark – The Jewish Community of Denmark delivered a letter of protest to the Danish minister of Foreign Affairs, asking him to inform the Iranian ambassador to Denmark that his President’s provocation will only serve to further isolate Iran from the international community.
Further, on Friday the 28th of October, the Danish Zionist Federation organized its own protest in front of the Iranian embassy in
Brussels – In Europe’s capital, the umbrella group of Belgian Jewish organisations gathered around 300 people in front of the Belgian ambassador, and deposed a protest letter to the country’s Iranian ambassador.
Demonstrations were also organized and protest letters sent by the Jewish communities in Vienna, Budapest, Sarajevo, Berlin and Belgrade.
Meanwhile, the EJC issued a press release soon after the Iranian president’s threat, unequivocally calling for the immediate removal of Iran from the United Nations, echoing a similar call made earlier by the Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and its Vice-Premier Shimon Peres. The EJC has also started a petition against the President’s statements, accessible under the following link.
World leaders have reacted harshly to the statement, which came at a time of tense relations between an increasingly isolated Iran and the international community in view of a possible nuclear stand-off. European governments and the European Union spokesman unanimously condemned the Iranian President, while various Arab and Muslim states issued veiled condemnations as well.
Although the Iranian regime regularly uses vehement anti-Israel propaganda in its daily discourse and state-operated media, Ahmadinejad’s declaration is the first time since years that an Iranian leader has called for the open eradication of Israel.