75 years to the day after Kristallnacht – Antisemitism has not yet been defeated    

by  Clifford Savren  on  12/11/2013 
The Knesset's Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee devoted a session on November 11 to anti-Semitism in the Diaspora.

​The Knesset's Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee devoted a session on November 11 to anti-Semitism in the Diaspora that included a discussion with representatives from Jewish communities around the world.

For his part, the Knesset committee chairman, Yoel Razbozov, noted that the session was being held almost exactly 75 years to the day after Kristallnacht, the Nazi orgy of pogroms directed at synagogues and Jewish property in Germany and which was a prelude of sorts to the Holocaust to come. "I am afraid that I will open a newspaper [one morning] and read about another Kristallnacht" in a Jewish community somewhere in the Diaspora, he noted.
The session came just two weeks after five Jews were attacked in Sydney, Australia while they were walking home from synagogue. One of the victims, Jewish National Fund emissary Shlomo Ben-Haeim, spoke to the Knesset committee session via videoconference from Australia, and acknowledged that he still has fearful feelings over returning to the site of the assault, although his physical injuries are healing.
Joel Reitman (right), with the chairman of the Knesset committee, Yoel Razbozov.

Ben-Haeim said since the incident, other members of the Australian Jewish community had come forward to tell him that they too had been victims of anti-Semitic hatred, albeit not involving assault. When asked what Israel can do to help address the problem, Ben-Haeim responded that Israel's very existence has changed the lives of Jews around the world for the better. "If it were not for the State of Israel, Jews all over the world would not be able to walk proudly on the street," he said.
The Knesset committee session was attended by Jewish community representatives from around the world who described the situation in their local communities. Among those who addressed the group were two European Jewish parliamentarians, French National Assembly member Meyer Habib and Lithuanian legislator Emamuelis Zingeris.
For his part, Habib, who is a representative of French citizens living abroad in the Mediterranean region, including Israel, made clear that the current French president, Francois Hollande, and his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, have both reacted strongly to any manifestations in France of anti-Semitism. And Interior Minister Manuel Valls is also committed to address the issue.
France, Habib said, is not an anti-Semitic country. Nonetheless, he added, the country has experienced heinous anti-Jewish acts, including of course the shooting attack at the Otzar Hatorah Jewish day school in Toulouse that killed four people, among them three children, last year.
For his part, Zingeris, the Jewish parliament member from Lithuania, who has also taken a leadership role in European parliamentary affairs, urged the members of the Israeli Knesset to take a more active role in European parliamentary contacts on behalf of the Jewish state in forums in which Israel has observer status.
Taking a more philosophical view, Knesset member Uri Maklev noted that anti-Semitism has persisted in places in the Diaspora where Jews have been strong and where they have been weak, whether Jews were well-integrated into the societies where they were living or were living apart.
Vladimir Slutzker, the president of the Israeli Jewish Congress, addressed the American Jewish community representatives at the Knesset committee session saying that American Jews are insufficiently aware of the extent of the anti-Semitism faced by their fellow Jews in Europe.
One recurring matter of concern mentioned by a number of European representatives was legislation curbing not only Jewish ritual circumcision but also ritual slaughter of kosher meat.
On the political front, Joel Reitman, who spoke on behalf of Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA and Canada's Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, noted that Israel has no better friend in the world than the Canadian government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and added that the country's other major political parties are also supportive of Israel. And as Canadian Jews, he said, "we may live in Toronto and not Tel Aviv, but we see our destiny as indivisible."


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