Side event at Munich Security Conference urges govts to not overlook security needs of Jewish communitiesEuropean countries lack understanding of the security needs of Jewish communities, caution community leaders and experts.
Speaking Sunday at a side event of the Munich Security Conference, they called upon governments to not overlook the issue and not refuse Israel’s help in addressing it.
“Many countries just don’t understand why it is necessary to protect the Jewish communities,” said Maram Stern, Deputy President of the World Jewish Congress.
“In Switzerland they say, if we protect the Jews, we will need to protect also mosques and churches.
In Poland, they say that police security would only attract negative attention.
In France and Belgium, it’s a problem of personnel.”Some also say, if you want protection pay for it, without understanding that it is their duty to defend their own citizens.
“The awareness of the threat posed to Jewish communities and institutions decreased in recent years, as Islamic terrorists broadened the scope of their targets, yet “Jews are always the first target of jihadists,” noted radicalism expert Prof. Peter Neumann.
“Even the current terror wave started in 2015 not only with an attack on Charli Hebdo, but also with an attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris. We still see foiled plots against Jewish communities across Europe.
“They are the canaries in the coal mine,” he continued, “and when we see that Jews are being targeted, the whole of society should be worried, because it’s usually a sign of worse things to come.
“Also from the direction of the far-right, the immediate threat to Jewish institutions in Europe may have diminished, as refugee shelters became the principle targets instead, “but that doesn’t mean that the risk is lower,” stressed Europol’s former director Jürgen Storbeck.
Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis, who organized the panel, told of concerns in his community: “Synagogues are no longer a safe haven, where citizens go to pray, celebrate or mourn.
At the back of almost every Jew’s mind is the possibility of what could happen.”
“As a Jew, when I walk down the street unrecognized, I have no problem,” stressed Stern.
“But as soon as I approach a synagogue, I start to feel uncomfortable.
People are curious, who walks in and who walks out, it is like you are in a zoo.
The irony is that every country tells you that ‘we are the best friends of the Jews, you are secure here’ which is not the case. Jews everywhere feel uncomfortable.”
“Every Jew in the world should be able to walk down the street looking like a Jew and not feel fear,” agreed MK Tzipi Livni, and Israel, as the nation state of the Jewish people, has a partial responsibility to tackle the problem.
“But I don’t want to take from the responsibility of the government of the country that they live in.
Israel is willing to help with intelligence and training, but this is a matter of sovereignty. We can say that we feel a connection to their Jewish community and want to be involved, but it’s up to them it to accept that help.”