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German Jewish leader decries anti-Semitism in Europe

January 30, 2019

The former head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany told EU lawmakers that anti-Semitism was resurfacing in Europe. She singled out the UK Labour Party's leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Charlotte Knobloch addresses the European Parliament at a Holocaust commemoration in Brussels
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/G. Wijngaert

Addressing the European Parliament at a Holocaust remembrance ceremony in Brussels on Wednesday, the former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany warned that anti-Semitism presented a grave threat to Europe's liberal postwar order.

Anti-Semitism is "once again rearing its ugly head" in countries across the EU, Charlotte Knobloch said.

The 86-year-old, herself a Holocaust survivor, said that although radical groups on the political right and left as well as radical Islamic groups may be very different, they often shared anti-Semitic beliefs.

"The freedom and democracy that we enjoy today are only as strong as the stance democracy takes to uphold them — and the willingness of the majority to defend them against an energetic and hateful minority," she said. 

Corbyn singled out

Knobloch was especially critical of the leader of the opposition in the United Kingdom, Jeremy Corbyn.

"The Labour Party, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, has become one of Europe's most flagrant problems in terms of institutionalized political anti-Semitism over the past few years," she said.

Corbyn and his supporters have been accused of harboring anti-Semitic views.

Under growing public pressure, he acknowledged last year that the party had a "real problem" with anti-Jewish sentiments. UK police are currently investigating possible "anti-Semitic hate crimes" within the party.

Labour head Jeremy Corbyn at a party convention
Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party was rocked by an anti-Semitism scandal in 2018Image: Reuters/H. McKay

AfD walk out

Knobloch's direct criticism of Corbyn came a week after she slammed the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in a speech at a Holocaust remembrance ceremony in the Bavarian state parliament.

Knobloch said the AfD was hostile toward Germany's constitution and sharply criticized its downplaying of Germany's Nazi past. AfD members left the hall in protest

Lasker-Wallfisch: 'Anti-Semitism is a 2,000-year-old virus'

js/amp (AFP, dpa, KNA)    

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