German Politician Troubled by Rising Antisemitism Throughout Europe
JNS.org – For the first time in history, the president of the European Union plans to hold a conference on antisemitism and anti-Zionism.
The “Europe Beyond Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism — Securing Jewish Life in Europe” conference took place on Wednesday in Vienna. It was the initiative of Austrian Chancellor and current European Union president Sebastian Kurz, in cooperation with the European Jewish Congress and Austria’s Jewish community.
Among those who addressed the event were German politician Manfred Weber, head of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament, and a member of the conservative Christian Social Union in Bavaria. Weber has been a delegate to the European Parliament since 2004, and was elected head of the European People’s Party in 2014. If the conservatives continue to maintain their majority in the European Parliament after the coming May elections, Weber will become its president.
In an interview with Israel Hayom — his first with an Israeli media outlet — Weber warned of growing antisemitism in Europe.
“The development in recent years is an absolute warning sign,” he said.
“The vicious murder of 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll in her apartment in Paris was regrettably the lowest point of a clear trend: In France, the number of violent antisemitic incidents rose by an inconceivable 69 percent in the first nine months of the year. In Britain, there was an increase of around 30 percent,” he added.
“In Germany, too, people are attacked for being Jews. The growing antisemitism makes me uneasy. Not just the public attacks but the ‘relativization’ of antisemitism creeping into people’s minds. It seems that for far too long, many were convinced that the situation in Europe was under control. There is nothing more to add other than we must act against this phenomenon while it is limited. My demand is that everyone rise up and oppose antisemitism,” he said.
When asked if Jews have a future in Europe, he answered, “Jews and Jewish life belong in Europe unconditionally. If Jews do not have a future in Europe, Europe will no longer be Europe. Maintaining the security of the Jews and daily Jewish life is, for me, a topmost European interest.”
And finally, when asked about far-left parties in the European Union, he stated, “I am very grateful to Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who as rotating president of the European Council, brought this issue to the agenda and as chancellor decisively acts as a friend of Europe’s Jews.”
“Indeed, I would not have imagined that in certain countries in the European Union, left-wing parties would show tolerance toward open antisemitism and implement anti-Israel [policies],” he said. “There is a genuine risk that such parties will enter the European Parliament. I intend to make this clear during the [upcoming] election campaign.”
Eldad Beck is an Israeli journalist and author.