By Ronald Lauder
The pictures from various European cities are outrageous and appalling. In Paris and its suburbs, rampaging mobs of pro-Palestinian demonstrators have attacked synagogues and burned cars and stores. In Belgium, protesters in Antwerp last week screamed “slaughter Jews!” while in Brussels they rallied a few hundred meters away from the Jewish Museum, where a Jihadi terrorist recently murdered four people. Rallies in the German cities of Dortmund and Frankfurt heard cries of “Hamas, Hamas Jews to the gas!”
As these examples show, anti-Semitic attacks and incitement against Jews have reached an alarming pitch not seen in many countries since World War II – all on account of the fact that Israel is defending itself from the thousands of rockets Hamas has rained on its cities.
This cannot stand. European government leaders need urgently to clamp down on any expression of anti-Semitism. The world needs to show by words and by actions where it stands: in solidarity with Israel, not with Hamas’ supporters who attack synagogues and shout “Death to the Jews.”
Such anti-Semitic agitation must be fought, not explained away and placated. If that requires more police to protect Jewish sites, the authorities must provide it. If it means banning violent rallies, they should be banned, or disbanded. We cannot accept that violence against Jews is being attempted again in Europe or anywhere else in the world. We will not accept that Jews anywhere are being terrorized because of their religion or because they support Israel.
In the free world, people have a right to express their opinions and feelings. They can disagree with what Israel is doing in Gaza to defend itself against the attacks coming from there, provided they get their facts right, just as people have the right to support and defend Israel in its quest to protect its population from terror and rocket fire. However, nobody has a right to insult, threaten, or hurt people in the streets of Paris or Berlin, or call for the death of Jews, just because he or she is unhappy about the Middle East conflict. Moreover, any head of state or government who fuels this debate by equating Israel’s defensive operation with genocide, or even the Holocaust, is acting disgracefully and putting the safety of Jews in his or her country at peril.
Europe’s leaders have a stark choice: Either they stop this agitation and protect their Jewish populations, or Jews will ultimately turn their backs on those countries. This is not a question of whether the leaders agree with Israel. It’s about whether they are willing and able to do what it takes to prevent the renaissance of anti-Jewish pogroms in their lands.
Ronald S. Lauder is president of the World Jewish Congress. This article first appeared on his blog at worldjewishcongress.org.