Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, addresses Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) International Conference on the Responsibility of States, Institutions and Individuals in the Fight against Anti-Semitism in the OSCE Area, in Rome, and Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, who attended the conference in his role as Chairman of Yad Vashem Council. (Photo credit: EJC)

By Hana Levi Julian – 20 Heshvan 5779 – October 28, 2018

The organization representing European Jewry warned Sunday that this weekend’s attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has made it clear that “words matter” — and that stronger measures are needed against hate speech and incitement.

The European Jewish Congress (EJC) expressed its “shock and sadness” at the horrific attack in a statement issued by Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the organization.

“This barbaric and vicious act by a gunman shouting “all Jews must die”, following similar comments made on social media, shows how easily antisemitism can turn from hateful rhetoric and incitement into extreme violence,” Kantor said. “It also demonstrates the level of hatred against Jews and the evils of antisemitism which knows no borders.

“The international community needs to implement stronger measures against hate speech and incitement, because as we can see, words matter,” he added.

“This tragedy also demonstrates how important it is that our synagogues, schools and community centers across Europe, and indeed the world, continue to receive protection from the authorities and local volunteer groups.

“We must never be complacent about the threat our communities face.”

The Jewish Communities in Europe sent their “condolences and deepest sympathies” to the families of those who were murdered in “this vile and hateful act, and to the entire Jewish community at this difficult time.”