Individual expressions of Jewish life, religion and culture, and the free and uninhibited organisation of Jewish community structures and activities require open and democratic societies in Europe, which respect these traditions and provide the framework to allow these expressions to flourish.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach for independent and autonomous Jewish expression. Our culture and history respect and accentuate pluralism as an inherent part of Jewish identity.
However, in saying this, any attack on the fundamental rights of free and unencumbered expression on all or part of the Jewish community in Europe is an attack on all Europeans’ rights.
Recent attempts in some European countries to restrict, ban or prevent the open provision of kosher meat for Jewish communities is discriminatory, often illegal and demonises Jewish expression and our community.
This logically strikes at the very heart of open Jewish life in Europe.
It is also based on the false and offensive premise that Jewish practices cause additional suffering to animals, whilst systematically ignoring many practices prevalent in Europe that cause immeasurable suffering to animals and have no existential benefit whatsoever for humans.
Campaigns attacking Shechita are based on an altogether more pernicious objective, one which pushes a chauvinistic and racist agenda and where the result of causing Jews and other minorities to question the actual possibility of living where they have lived for centuries is exactly what is being aimed for.
Similarly, the ancient and existential Jewish practice of male circumcision, Brit Milah, is increasingly threatened by a perverse coalition of misguided children’s rights activists, so-called liberals and the far right.
We assert that there is no Jewish life in Europe without Brit Milah because, quite simply, there are no Jews without Brit Milah.
The European Jewish Congress is active in conveying these key messages, working with religious authorities, wider civil society and the political echelon at the pan-European and national level, always in close collaboration and coordination with its national affiliates.
Whether our European nations adopt the model of the secular structure of society on a neutral basis (laicité), or equality through a multiculturalist structure, the open space for equality of opportunity without restriction must always exist if we desire a continued and fruitful contribution of Jews in and to Europe.