President Donald Trump’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism has warned of a confluence far-right, far-left and radical Islamists who are united only by “the age-old sickness of humanity – antisemitism”.
Speaking in Antwerp at the general convention for the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), Elan Carr said: “In Europe, we have a confluence of antisemitism, from ultra-right ethnic supremacist movements to the ultra-left anti-Israel, anti-Zionist movements, to radical Islam.
“These are movements that should hate each other far more than they hate anything else. And yet they are united in this age-old sickness of humanity, antisemitism – what President Trump calls the vile poison of antisemitism.”
He added: “Antisemitism isn’t only about the Jews; antisemitism is history’s greatest barometer of human misery and a society that has imbibed its poison is rotten to the core.”
Even in the “most philo-semitic country in the world”, the US, “Jews have been attacked in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, vandalism has appeared in New York and Los Angeles of all places. Jews have been murdered on Shabbat in synagogue, in Pittsburgh and San Diego”, Carr said.
He heaped praise on Trump and his boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who, he said, “are committed in an unprecedented fashion to the Jewish people, to the fight against antisemitism in the world or to the state of Israel”.
Carr described attempts to ban shechita and brit mila in certain European countries as “nothing other than a forced expulsion of the Jewish community from the countries that adopt this kind of legislation. It is intolerable”.
He said that while he fought “antisemitism with the full weight of the United States of America… to win this war, not even the US alone can do it – to win this war we need perhaps the most elusive asset of all, and that is Jewish unity.
“I don’t have to tell you that Jews are fragmented and divided today. That Jew stands against Jew. How many times have we seen that movements against the Jewish people have been led by Jews, when Jews stand up against the state of Israel or Jewish unity? Or against Jewish survival or Jewish interests?”
However, he told the rabbis and dayanim: “You are the key to solving this problem. You the spiritual leaders who stand with congregations throughout Europe and throughout the world, who help Jews redefine Judaism, who make us rediscover our love and passion for the Jewish people. You hold your fingers on the pulse of exactly what we need today.”
The three-day conference was also addressed by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Dayan Menachem Gelley, the head of the London Beth Din and Yonason Nachum Guttentag, the rabbi of the Whitfield community in Manchester, as well as the Jewish world’s leading demographer, Professor Sergio Della Pergola.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the Chief Rabbit of Moscow and CER president, said: “Some populist parties offer appeal to the Jewish communities of Europe; either because the Jewish community feels like it does not like the status quo or because Jews feel that the Party would offer them protection from the dangers posed by Islamic extremism.
“However, once you move away from mainstream parties, the alternative is often far-right parties, some of which have a rotten core of politically correct antisemitism which soon comes to the fore.
“Politically correct antisemitism has many faces including attacks on religious practice like religious slaughter and religious circumcision or causing more subtle changes fostering an atmosphere of extremism.”
“Going into the European elections, we have to encourage our communities to understand the wider context of this European vote. It is not just a chance to protest against mainstream politics or an opportunity to endorse a fringe position, we need an effective European Parliament that is going to protect minority communities. The Jewish community needs to vote in these elections and we have stressed the importance of this message to our Rabbis. Right now, European Institutions can do more to protect the Jewish Community and this vote is a good way of holding decision makers to account.”