TEL AVIV – The European Union (EU) recognizes that anti-Zionism is a term often used to mask anti-Semitism, its newly appointed official tasked with combating the phenomenon said Tuesday.
Katharina von Schnurbein, the first person to fill an official EU position fighting anti-Semitism, told a Knesset debate that the EU was doing everything in its power to tackle anti-Semitism in Europe, The Jerusalem Post reported.
“We have very much intensified our efforts, and we must pull our forces to fight this together,” said Schnurbein, quoting recently deceased Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel: “The opposite of hate is not love, but indifference,” she said.
Yaakov Hagoel, vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization, said while Schnurbein’s appointment gives “new wind in the EU,” it doesn’t reflect its stance as a whole.
While a newly released poll shows that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Western Europe, in Eastern Europe there has been a decrease.
However, the reliability of statistics is questionable since 74% of anti-Semitic incidents are not reported to authorities.
“We need to understand what generation we are raising,” Hagoel said at the discussion, which was hosted by the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee. “They are proud citizens who want to live in Europe and raise their kids there. There’s a price to pay for raising kids in Europe.
“This very much concerns us as the Jewish nation, and you are responsible for all the citizens, including the Jewish ones,” he continued.
Gerald Steinberg, the president of NGO Monitor, a pro-Israel group that analyses the transparency of foreign NGOs’ funds, said: “The rise in anti-Semitism in Europe is directly linked to incitement we hear throughout the world such as the words ‘war crimes, genocide and ethnic cleansing’ used with regard to Israel – it clearly feeds anti-Semitism.”
“Anti-Semitism is not just the Jews’ problem,” said MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid). “It’s not just the Israelis’ problem either. History has already taught us what happens when we don’t deal with this problem. This is a global problem. Terror is striking everywhere.”
Director of Israeli Students Combating Antisemitism, Ido Daniel, reminded the forum of the contentious debate surrounding the abuse of social media as a tool to spread incitement, especially terror against Jews.
“People with obviously Jewish names change their names on Facebook because they receive abuse due to their identity – the problem of anti-Semitism on the web must not be overlooked,” he said.
Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) urged the EU to fight against anti-Semitism in all way possible including legislation, sanctions and above all, education.
“The education you give your children in schools, in educational institutions must be based on loving the ‘other,’” he said.