Commission president announces new task force to combat hatred against Jews.
By Hans ven der Burchard
(December 12, 2019) European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday announced the creation of a new task force to tackle rising anti-Semitism across Europe, which she said represents “attacks on us all.”
“A rising challenge needs a stronger response from our side,” she told the ‘After Halle: From words to action against anti-Semitism’ conference, hosted by the European Parliament’s Working Group on anti-Semitism, in Brussels.
Von der Leyen said “a new dedicated team” would support the work of Katharina von Schnurbein, the European coordinator on combating anti-Semitism, and report to Commission Vice President for Promoting the European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas.
“Anti-Semitism is a poison for our community,” von der Leyen said. “We will remain vigilant. And more, we will act on all levels — through security means of course, but also in our education systems and in the public debate.”
The conference took place just two months after a heavily armed man tried to force his way into a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle, where about 80 people were celebrating Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism. After failing to break open the front door, the man fatally shot two people nearby before being arrested by police.
Anastasia Plethukhina, who was among those in the synagogue during the attack, told the conference that “for me and my family, who chose to live in Germany, it was very devastating to know that we are not as protected as we actually wish for.”
“What we saw in Halle is not only about anti-Semitism, it’s about democracy being jeopardized in Germany, and beyond that,” she added.
In her speech, von der Leyen stressed how important it was not only to protect but also foster Jewish life.