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Thu Dec 21, 2017, 09:43 PM

(Jewish Group) To fight European antisemitism, we must first face up to it


Since Donald Trump made his Jerusalem announcement this month, a series of antisemitic attacks and other incidents have taken place in Europe. They have drawn condemnation from political leaders and received some, but not much, media attention. These events are a sign that antisemitism in Europe could be getting worse.

The Holocaust is a defining legacy of European history. Europeans have a special responsibility to ensure Jews feel safe and free in our societies. There can be no justification for antisemitism. That may be stating the obvious, but these days it seems that the obvious needs to be stated.

On 9 December in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, a group of masked men attempted to set fire to a synagogue. They threw molotov cocktails, forcing young people who had been holding a Hanukkah party to seek refuge in the basement. Days later, a second arson attack occurred at a Jewish cemetery in Malmö, where there were also reports of calls for an “intifada” and violent, antisemitic shouts at a demonstration. In Amsterdam, a man holding a Palestinian flag smashed the windows of a kosher restaurant. The incident, recorded on video, was described by the Organisation of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands as “no less than an act of terror”.

In Gothenburg, three men were detained for “attempted criminal arson” after the synagogue attack. According to the antiracist activist magazine Expo, they were two Syrians and one Palestinian. All three had arrived in Sweden this year. The Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven declared there was “no place for antisemitism in our society”, while Angela Merkel commented that “no difference of opinion, including on the status of Jerusalem, can justify such acts”.


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