THE HAGUE (JTA) — Jewish cemeteries face special risks and European governments need to act to ensure their protection, the Council of Europe affirmed in a resolution.
“There are numerous Jewish cemeteries in Europe, and they need to be protected and preserved,” read the resolution passed last week by the standing committee of the council, an international NGO promoting pan-European cooperation. Jewish cemeteries “are part of the European cultural heritage” and are “probably more at risk than those of other confessions,” it said.
The Europe office of World Agudas Yisroel, a political movement representing haredi Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews, has identified 10,529 Jewish cemeteries and 1,859 mass graves across Europe. Agudas Yisroel called the resolution, for which it had campaigned, a “milestone.”
The council’s standing committee adopted the resolution on May 25 at a meeting in Albania.
Dr. Haim Fireberg, senior researcher for Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the study of European Jewry, told JTA that his institute records dozens of attacks against Jewish cemeteries in Europe yearly, mostly in Eastern Europe.
Desecration of graves accounted for 13 percent of anti-Semitic attacks worldwide recorded by the Kantor Center in 2011.
“Cemeteries are a popular target because it’s practically a risk-free attack,” Firebirg said.