Some Jewish communities in Europe are in “grave danger” after a recent wave of anti-Semitism, some of it officially sanctioned, said the European Jewish Congress (EJC).
“If these small Jewish communities can’t receive protection or respite from mainstream officials then we are entering a very dark period for the Jews in Europe,” the European Jewish group’s president, Moshe Kantor, stressed.
The EJC cited several recent anti-Semitic incidents in Antwerp, Belgium, and Malmo, Sweden.
In the southern Swedish city, last weekend, an event organized for Jewish children was reportedly attacked by a gang of thugs who shouted “Heil Hitler” and “Jewish pigs”.
The gang even entered the area hosting the children’s event and damaged property.
Local newspaper Sydsvenskan. reported that the attackers, who were youngsters of about 13-14, accompanied their screaming of anti-Semitic slogans with a number of physical assaults, throwing eggs at the building’s windows and walls, banging windows and throwing trashcans around.
“Threats against Jews have increased steadily in Malmo in recent years and many young Jewish families are choosing to leave the city,” Fredrik Sieradzki of the Jewish Community of Malmo (Judiska Församlingen i Malmö) told a Swedish newspaper.
“Many feel that the community and local politicians have shown a lack of understanding for how the city’s Jewish residents have been marginalized.”
Last year there were 79 crimes against Jewish residents reported to the police in Malmö, roughly double the number reported in 2008, according to the Skanska Dagbladet newspaper. In addition, Jewish cemeteries and synagogues have repeatedly been defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti, and a chapel at another Jewish burial site in Malmo was firebombed in January 2009.Around 3,000 Jews live in the south of Sweden, most residing in Malmo, Helsingborg and Lund.
The EJC noted that this event occurred only a few weeks after Malmo mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, was reelected in the Swedish city.
Earlier this year after a surge of anti-Semitism hit the Malmo Jewish community, Reepalu considered this an understandable consequence of the Israel-Palestine conflict and claimed “we accept neither Zionism nor anti-Semitism,” equating Jewish national self-determination with hate and racism.
The European Jewish Congress noted that these events occurred soon after anti-Semitic comments made by German former Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin, European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht and Spanish MEP Emilio Menendez del Valle.
“It demonstrates that anti-Semitism is at best actively promoted and at worst ignored by some officials in Europe,” Moshe Kantor said. “Due to this intolerable situation, small Jewish communities, like Malmo, are teetering on the brink of extinction.”
“Small Jewish communities are facing a situation where they are being physically, verbally and psychologically threatened by fundamentalist elements and their extreme left-wing cohorts on one side and the far-right neo-Nazis on the other,” Kantor continued.
The EJC called on European governments and the European Union to launch a campaign against intolerance and anti-Semitism, so to remind European citizens that the new Europe was established after the Second World War on the concept of “Never Again.”