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EU Parliamentarians mark 83rd anniversary of Kristallnacht at Auschwitz memorial

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Jewish Community Organizations Call Upon EU Leaders to Combat the Resurgence of Antisemitism

By SAMUEL HYDE

As the world marks 83 years since Kristallnacht, the European Jewish Association (EJA) has warned European leaders that the uptick of antisemitic violence in Europe could cause the continent to become ‘Juden Frei’ (Free of Jews) within the next decade. 

The remarks were made during a symposium hosted by the EJA, which brought together EU ministers and parliamentarians from across Europe to Krakow, Poland for the annual two-day conference on the fight against antisemitism. 

Day one saw political leaders discuss the concerns of antisemitism today during a symposium, as well as looking at tools to combat it, while day two saw the delegation tour Auschwitz-Birkenau where a short memorial and wreath-laying service marking the tragedy of Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass) took place.

Kristallnacht saw Nazi orchestrated violence sweep across Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland. On November 9 and 10, 1938, about 1,400 synagogues were destroyed, 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses and homes were destroyed while 91 Jews were murdered and 30 000 Jewish men and boys over the age of 16 were arrested. Kristallnacht is considered to be the first act of mass violence in the days leading up to the Holocaust. 

Addressing the symposium from Jerusalem, Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that “in the Middle Ages Jews were persecuted because of their religion. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Jews were reviled because of their race, and today Jews are attacked because of their Nation-State – Israel.

“We must not be silent,” Bennett emphasized. “We must hold our heads high and we must be proud about being Jewish 10 times more than others may hate us for it!”

Together with the heads of Jewish communities and organizations, European parliamentarians and diplomatic leaders discussed legal, educational, and operational avenues and explored tools to ensure the most effective fight against antisemitism in Europe.

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a dramatic uptick in antisemitic discourse, particularly online. Speaking at the opening of the symposium, Rabbi Margolin warned that “Europe is fighting antisemitism, but it is not winning yet.”

“If this upward trend continues, more and more Jews will seek sanctuary in Israel rather than stay in a continent that cannot learn the lessons and cataclysmic mistakes of its past. We are not yet in the state of Judenfrei. But, unfortunately, we are approaching a state of crisis,” Margolin stressed.

Rt. Hon. Nadhim Zahawi, the UK Secretary of State for Education stated that “the Holocaust was a failure for humanity and justice. The worst event in history. Nothing can erase the pain. I can feel the pain because my whole family has run away from Saddam Hussein’s rule. As Kurds, we had to escape.”

“We fled when I was 7 years old from Iraq to the UK,” he recalled. “I understand the important role of UK teachers in Holocaust education. Learning about history is something we sanctify in the UK. Due to Corona, virtual visits to Auschwitz increased. We have 0 Tolerance for antisemitism and racism. Anti-hate education is our top priority in the UK.”

“I urge universities to adopt a text called IHRA that talks about antisemitism,” Zahawi concluded.

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