Monday, November 17, 2014

European Jews urge American counterparts to help them as anti-Semitism is gaining ground

Shooting at Jewish Museum in Brussels
A Trilateral Dialogue of American, European and Israeli Jewish leaders in DC spotlights inadequate means to combat oldest hatred as it gains ground in Europe.  A significant part of that way forward, European representatives said, was mobilizing the political weight of the US government behind pushing European governments to take growing anti-Semitism more seriously.

The Israeli Jewish Congress delegation went to Washington to participate in the third Trilateral Dialogue – a joint initiative sponsored by the IJC and JFNA to bring leaders of Jewish communities from Europe, North America, and Israel together for a roundtable discussion on key issues facing their respective communities.

The initiative was launched in November 2013, and participants say this week’s session marked a key juncture. “This is the first time in the US that the IJC and the JFNA have shown close and ongoing cooperation for the benefit of Israel, American Jewry and, of course, our people in Europe,” said Dr. Benjamin Albalas, vice president of the World Jewish Congress and president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece.

“The financial situation in Europe is not going well, and anti-Semitism is growing with extreme parties increasing their power in the last EU election,” said Albalas.

Albalas said his American counterparts are aware that problems Jews face in Europe are different from those in the US. “Anti-Semitism in Europe is a multifactorial issue, and that is why it is difficult to confront it,” Albalas explained.

The trilateral gathering allowed delegates to share ideas about tangible ways in which the communities could support each other, including public relations in an increasingly media-savvy world, and security issues as European institutions face a potentially growing jihadist citizenry. 

“The American Jewish community can help in practical ways. They have the know-how to face the mass media and social media — Google, Twitter and others. They also have the know-how to attract opinion leaders to change the atmosphere,” said Albalas.

Dialogue members hope the US government will now pressure European governments to take a stronger stance against anti-Semitism, Albalas said, and explain that “anti-Semitism is not just a problem for the Jews, but for their democracies.”

More: Times of Israel

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