European rabbis have slammed a vote to ban male circumcision for boys by Norway’s ruling party as an attack on religion.
Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), was speaking at the organisation’s three-day biennial convention in Amsterdam, where he welcomed more than 200 rabbis from across Europe.
It followed a vote at the annual conference of the Norwegian Progress Party, the country’s third largest, to ban the ritual circumcision of boys under the age of 16, as well as to ban the wearing of hijabs from schools.
“This is an overt and blatant attack on faith communities,” said Goldschmidt. “We will repel any such calls in the strongest measures and continue working to ensure that European Jewry is able to practice our faith in a safe and secure manner.”
Also addressing the convention’ 60th Anniversary Gala Dinner was EU Commissioner Frans Timmermans, who said “there is no Europe without the Jewish community,” as he reaffirmed support for the future of European Jewry.
Timmermans, who is vice-president of the European Commission, appeared to place the blame for “a huge surge of anti-Semitism” on recent immigrants, saying it was “inspired by people coming from elsewhere, who were raised with anti-Semitism”.
He warned: “Our society should be helping them to get it out of their system and signs of anti-Semitism should not remain unaddressed. But sadly, we also face the eternal European anti-Semitism, which is alive and kicking.”
Goldschmidt added that “a new, very scary environment” was taking shape, “in which negative forces are taking advantage of globalisation and abusing the internet to spread their hate. We rabbis have to provide to our community and to the world a spiritual tent, to provide clarity, charity, love, sanctity and tolerance”.