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October 11, 2019 12:36 pm

Security for Jewish Communities Is Your Urgent Responsibility, Top EU Official Tells Member States After Germany Synagogue Attack

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Police officers in Halle, Germany, responding to the attack at a synagogue by a neo-Nazi gunman, Oct. 9, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Hannibal Hanschke.

The European Union official tasked with combating rising antisemitism on the continent called on member states on Friday to step up measures to safeguard Jewish community institutions from antisemitic outrages.

Katharina von Schnurbein — who has served as the European Commission’s coordinator on combating antisemitism since 2015 — said the measures were especially urgent in the wake of this week’s Yom Kippur attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany, by an armed neo-Nazi.

“The security of Jewish communities is the responsibility of each state,” von Schnurbein declared in a letter to all EU members. She said that several states had a “great deal of catching up to do” as regards security, pointing out that in some cases, Jewish communities were forced to spend 50 percent of their budgets on protection measures.

Von Schnurbein also participated in a solidarity vigil against antisemitism on Friday that was organized by the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS).

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“I do believe the impossible is possible, I do believe we can roll back antisemitism,” she told the crowd gathered outside the German Embassy in Brussels. “The attack in Halle must be the ultimate wake-up call.”

In Germany, several politicians echoed von Schnurbein’s sentiments. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer — the head of the governing CDU Party — argued in an interview on Friday that more resources were necessary for state agencies to “smash right-wing extremist, antisemitic and Islamist networks.”

Her colleague Reiner Haseloff — who serves as prime minister of the Saxony-Anhalt region where Halle is located — warned in a separate television interview that there were  24,000 known far-right activists in Germany, around half of whom had violent records, as he urged Germany’s national security agencies to focus on the problem.

Left-wing politician Christine Lambrecht — Germany’s justice minister — separately called for better use of existing laws to combat political extremists, as well as enhanced protection for Germany’s Jewish communities.

Politicians, the judiciary and security agencies “must commit themselves to better protect Jewish citizens in this country,” Lambrecht said during a Thursday night interview with broadcaster ARD.

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