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Paris attacks ‘grim reminder’ of anti-Semitic threat, EU says

Marking 70th anniversary of Holocaust, Federica Mogherini commemorates ‘crime unparalleled in human history’

European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, speaks to journalists as she arrives for a Foreign Affairs Council meeting at the EU Headquarters in Brussels, on November 17, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/JOHN THYS)
European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, speaks to journalists as she arrives for a Foreign Affairs Council meeting at the EU Headquarters in Brussels, on November 17, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/JOHN THYS)

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Tuesday that the recent killings in Paris are “a grim reminder” that anti-Semitism is still a threat and that 70 years after the Holocaust ended, European Jews are still threatened.

In a statement issued on International Holocaust Remembrance Day in both Hebrew and English, Mogherini said she joined “in commemorating a crime unparalleled in human history, a crime in which six million Jews as well as millions of other innocent victims, Roma, political prisoners, prisoners of war, disabled people, homosexuals, were murdered in Nazi death camps.”

The EU diplomat said that the ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp take place “in a sobering context” — less than three weeks after radical Islamist gunmen killed four Jews at a kosher supermarket in Paris and 12 people at a French satirical newspaper.

“The latest terrorist attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris, in which four people were murdered, is a grim reminder that violent anti-Semitism is still alive. Seventy years after the Holocaust, there are Jewish communities in Europe that again feel threatened,” Mogherini said.

“So today, more than ever, it is not enough to say ‘Never again.’ We must turn these words into action. Today, more than ever we must inform the generations born after the Holocaust about the terrible events that took place on European soil and educate them to take a stand against anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination,” she said.

Earlier in the day, a French Jewish umbrella organization said that anti-Semitic attacks in France had doubled between 2013 and 2014, as did the number of violent attacks on French Jews.

President Francois Hollande told the French Jewish community Tuesday that “France is your homeland” and described as “unbearable” the rise in anti-Semitic acts in France, in light of the figures published by CRIF.

Mogherini’s remarks for International Holocaust Remembrance Day came as survivors paid a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp to mark the 70th anniversary of its liberation by the Soviet Red Army. Her comments followed those made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday that it was a “disgrace” that Jews in Germany faced insults, threats or violence.

Merkel joined survivors of the former camp, created by Nazi Germany in southern Poland, for a somber and moving event in the German capital ahead of Tuesday’s anniversary.

Auschwitz is a “warning” of what people can do to each other, Merkel said, adding that the camp — the site of the largest single number of murders committed during World War II — had been an “atrocious departure” in the course of history.

She said more than 100,000 Jews have today made Germany their home, but that it was “unfortunately not without cause” that some feared insult or assault.

“It’s a disgrace that people in Germany are abused, threatened or attacked when they indicate somehow they are Jewish or when they side with the State of Israel,” she said, to applause.

Merkel said the fact that synagogues and Jewish institutions had to be guarded by police was like a “stain on our country.”

Anti-Semitism and other forms of inhumanity must be stood up to, Merkel said.

She stressed the “everlasting responsibility” for Germans to remember the horrors unleashed by the Nazis and noted that the memory of the Holocaust shaped Germany’s self-image.

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