Calling on Europe to Meet the Growing Tide of Extremism
The World Jewish Congress solidarity mission I led to Brussels last week demonstrated an ancient Jewish principle that we at WJC strive to accomplish every day: Kol Yisrael arevim ze le ze – all Jews are responsible for one another. Organized in mere days, the mission brought 38 senior Jewish leaders from 16 different countries to the Belgian capital, where we were greeted with an outpouring of emotion from this community stricken by the heinous anti-Semitic terrorist attack on the Jewish Museum of Belgium.
At a ceremony on June 2 at the museum, the delegation said Kaddish for the three people killed and prayed for the other gravely wounded. Later, we met with Belgian Prime Minister Elio di Rupo, Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, Interior Minister Joëlle Milquet, and Justice Minister Annemie Turtelboom, The goal: to set up a joint commission of the government, the WJC, and the Jewish community of Belgium in order to identify measures to improve security for the Jewish community, to fight growing hatred, including on the internet, to strengthen Holocaust education in schools, and to facilitate the exchange of information.
We hope thereby to prevent more terrorist attacks and to improve the social climate for Jews in Belgium. Moreover, we urge all European governments fighting anti-Semitism to engage in constructive dialogue with WJC. The Belgian taskforce could be a model replicated elsewhere in Europe where there are substantial Jewish communities.
As I said at the ceremony outside the Jewish museum, we need to ensure that a young generation of Jews in Europe does not grow up living in fear. This is a problem not just for Jewish communities, but also for the governments and citizens of these nations. European societies will need to strengthen security. The suspected shooter in the attack, who the French police arrested when he returned to France by bus, allegedly fought in Syria. More and more, Europeans will be dealing with violent fanatics who come back to Europe not only with hatred in their hearts, but with the training and ability to kill on a mass scale. They will need to learn to combat this radicalization effectively, especially the indoctrination of young Muslims via the Internet. No longer will Europeans be able to blame the Arab-Israel conflict for the rising tide of hatred. We look forward to working with European governments to strengthen security for all.
Ronald S. Lauder is president of the World Jewish Congress. This article first appeared on his blog at worldjewishcongress.org.