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Challenge anti-Semitism

Alexander Kudascheff / db
February 16, 2015

Attacks on a synagogue in Copenhagen and a kosher shop in Paris, the desecration of Jewish cemeteries - DW's Alexander Kudascheff urges Europe to combat anti-Semitism without fail and at all times.

vandalized graves in France
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/O. Dietze

Islamist terrorism has a hold on Europe - a hold of fear. This year, it was France first, now Denmark - and everyone wonders where the terrorists will strike next.

No one doubts they will attack again. But at least the fear of danger and the terrorist threat hasn't diminished or blocked political common sense. Europe presents itself as determined not to be forced to its knees or give up its values. Europe wants to hold fast to the ideal and reality of an open, free society and to resolutely defend freedom of opinion against a closed theocratic system.

This terror targets all of us, but it particularly targets Jews in Europe. It targeted Jews in Paris in a shop that sells kosher food, it hit Jews in a synagogue in Copenhagen. It humiliates them by targeting Jewish graves - for years, Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated across Europe, in particular in France, where tombs were vandalized just this past weekend.

Many will shrug off these news reports, but it is important to stress that these vandals disturb the peace of the dead and offend the feelings of relatives and friends. They vilify people's memory, which is disgusting no matter whether the perpetrators are far-right extremists or Islamists.

It's high time Europe remembers that it not only has a Jewish legacy, but as Jewish present, too. Apart from great Jewish personalities in European history like Albert Einstein and Moses Mendelssohn, murderous anti-Semitism also shaped the old continent for a thousand years: during the Crusades in Britain and France, the 1492 expulsion of Jews from Spain and the Holocaust, the genocide of European Jews by Nazi Germany.

Alexander Kudascheff
DW Editor-in-Chief Alexander KudascheffImage: DW/M. Müller

A European obligation

The history of Jews in Europe is a history of persecution, discrimination, social ostracism and murder.

That is why today, Europeans must defend the Jews if they don't want the exodus of Jews from the continent to continue. Of Europe's roughly two million Jews, only 30,000 emigrate to Israel every year, but many more leave Europe unnoticed, heading for Canada or the US. A warning signal.

Europe is remaining levelheaded even in the face of Islamist terrorism. Hardly any laws have been changed, and there has been no hysteria. Societies are not paralyzed by fear of the invisible threat - not yet. But Europe and the Europeans must get more involved in the fight against anti-Semitism.

Europeans must give Jews in their countries the feeling that as a matter of course, they stand by their side. It's a scandal that many people appear to have got used to police protection for Jewish kindergartens, schools and synagogues.

Politically, it is more than alarming that criticism of Israel (for instance in the Gaza war) often turns out to be nothing but veiled anti-Semitism.

But Europe, and every single European, must stand united against rampant anti-Semitism. Not just in demonstrations and other events, but in everyday life. Do not stand idly by when your neighbor's life is threatened, the Bible says.

We shouldn't stay silent, but raise our voices in anger.

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