Diaspora Affairs Minister, MK Omer Yankelevich, spoke on Tuesday at a special gathering of Jewish community leaders in Europe and addressed the rising antisemitism in Europe and across the world.
The conference, led by the European Jewish Association (EJA,) was chaired by Rabbi Menachem Margolin and attended by dozens of Jewish community leaders and organizations from across the continent, as well as by senior members of the European Parliament and the Director of European Commission Directorate for Security & Law enforcement.
Addressing the forum itself, Yankelevich pointed at unity as the most efficient way of combating antisemitism.
“This forum brings together community leaders, government representatives, and Jewish organizations. The only way to successfully combat the rise in antisemitism is to combine forces and work together,” Yankelevich said as her opening remarks.
She then continued to point at the antisemitic instances that have been increasing in recent years, and especially in Europe. “It is coming from all directions, spanning political spectrum – the extreme right, extreme left, as well as radical Islam – contradictory and opposing ideologies have merged and found a common denominator, their hatred of Jews,” Yankelevich said.
While noting that these groups are still considered marginal in European society, Yankelevic did point at “an alarming phenomenon appearing in the heart of several EU countries. Those whose role it is to protect and ensure the physical and spiritual well-being of their Jewish communities.
During her speech, Yankelevic addressed debates taking place within several European parliaments regarding the religious freedom of Jewish communities in those countries.
“Let me be clear,” Yankelevic said. “Denying the Jewish freedom of religion implies denying the ability for Jews to live in Europe.”
She explained that “the solution to the rise of antisemitism is not hiding Judaism or removing kipot in public. On the contrary, the solution is to allow and strengthen Jewish identity.”
Yankelevich thanked the forum, which she described as “the vital gatekeepers who stand courageously against the popular tides” and promised to continue to fight against antisemitism everywhere.
“When the Jewish spirit is endangered, it is our responsibility to add light. We in the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs will continue increase our activity to bolster Jewish identity throughout Europe. We will do this by investing in Jewish schools, developing programs and informal activities for different age groups, supporting communities, and strengthening their resilience,” Yankelevic concluded.