WE MUST ACT IN TIME!
I see three foremost goals for the European Jewry today.
First: We must do everything we can to preserve the Jewish people living in Europe, a great European nation.
Protecting the Jewish population of Europe is of vital importance today. We are all aware of the high and still growing rate of assimilation. In Europe, in average, over 50% of Jewish marriages are mixed. Moreover, the majority of children in such families do not identify themselves as Jews in terms of religion, ethnicity or culture. The low birth rate in Jewish families is also an oft-repeated fact.
If these demographic trends continue, the “final solution of the Jewish question” may be a matter of one or two generations. The situation in many countries has already become irreversible.
This snowballing assimilation is obviously a result of the truly equal status achieved by Jews. It is also a defensive reaction to persistent anti-Semitism.
Even so, it is not enough to merely state the causes and remain a bystander. The dispersion and eventual disappearance of the Jewish people would essentially be “an environmental catastrophe,” both for world Jewry and for European Christian culture. Aside from Jews’ universally acknowledged achievements in each and every area of intellectual activity, preserving the Jewish people and Jewish culture provides for the possibility of ongoing Judeo-Christian dialogue, which is one of the most important underpinnings of European civilization development. If this buttress fails, European culture will suffer irreparable losses.
It is by no means our aim to advocate a concept of Jews’ cultural and racial superiority or try to hinder the freedom with which people choose their spouses. Tolerance and political correctness are the major achievements of modern culture. It was Jews who paid the devastatingly high price for securing the rule of these principles in Europe.
But what, in reality, can Jewish organizations do to stop the objectively observed decline?
We should start by reviving Jewish pride and cultivating the belief that being a Jew involves a very specific mission. We must advocate the position that to deny one’s Jewish identity and assimilate is, in essence, to sell one’s birthright for a pottage of lentils. Promotion of two important concepts - “You can be a Jew” and “It’s hip to be a Jew” – will require a massive PR campaign, including popularization of the outstanding achievements of specific Jews and Jewish communities. Finally, we must break down the negative stereotypes Jews often have, to our shame, and showcase the physical and spiritual beauty of our great nation.
To this end, a special programme has been developed: JEWISH FACES IN EUROPE, a Jewish positioning system in public awareness (JPS). In addition, Tel-Aviv University has opened the Centre of European Jewry.
The second objective is to fight anti-Semitism, to fight oblivion and fight Holocaust revisionism.
Called LET MY PEOPLE LIVE, this programme has been active for several years, covering remembrance ceremonies in Auschwitz (2005) and Babi Yar (2006), Week of Tolerance in Europe to remember die Kristallnacht (2008).
Our efforts have contributed to bringing about UN discussion of the Holocaust denial issue. We see this as a great success.
We will continue our work in this area. We will pursue efforts to introduce a Holocaust history course in EU secondary schools to teach tolerance. For this purpose, resolutions will be lobbied with key European institutions. We must also promote the adoption of laws throughout Europe that would interpret denial of the Holocaust as a malicious and proven lie. Now that the German and Russian archives are finally becoming fully accessible to researchers, it is tremendously important that the truth about the Holocaust be presented to the public and supported with irrefutable documentary evidence. Furthermore, within the scope of this programme we should finance production of a range of detailed documentaries featuring the true history of the Holocaust as backed up by documents and other evidence. We must do our best to see to it that such documentaries are broadcast on main TV-channels.
This programme is essential, both for European Jews and for Europe as a whole, since Europe’s attitude toward the Holocaust reflects its attitude toward its own conscience.
The third objective is to prevent a NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST.
This area of our efforts appears to be particularly salient today.
What are the European Jewish communities “can-dos” and “must-dos” in the fight against the threat of nuclear terrorism coming from Iran (and other rogue nations)?
We should do what ever we can for our brothers and sisters in Israel, but we should demonstrate to European nations that it is not an Israeli issue, nor a Jewish issue, but a very important European issue.
How could we do that?
First of all, a politically unbiased vision of these issues needs to be formed based on the opinions of recognized experts in the fields of physics, mechanics, biology and political science. To what extent is nuclear war in the Middle East a real possibility? What are the actual threats implied by Iran’s nuclear programme? What are the ways to confront this programme?
The opinions of unbiased international experts must be decisive in the practical and political responses to these issues.
A conference of international experts has been arranged for this purpose and will be held this year in Luxemburg.
After the break-up of the USSR, the threat of a nuclear confrontation subsided and Europe entered into a dangerous state of complacency. The nuclear threat issue, a top priority from the 1950s through the 1990s, has now moved to the periphery of public thought, hidden behind a host of other problems, from Anthrax to global warming.
The European public is making a huge mistake, and the consequences of this mistake can be fatal.
We need a PR campaign to remind the European public of the very real, deadly danger of a nuclear conflict, followed by a “nuclear winter” and other environmental catastrophes. The campaign should also clearly explain that in today’s world, a nuclear conflict would not be contained or local (for example, in the Middle East). Such a catastrophe would trigger a political chain reaction, inevitably leading to a global catastrophe. Any nuclear confrontation will become a nuclear holocaust for all of Humankind, just as the first Holocaust triggered a World War. European public opinion is facing the task to exert pressure on European governments to do their best to avoid such developments.
Europe needs a road map, not only for the peace process in the Middle East, but one that shows Europe and the entire world the way to back away from the threat of a new nuclear confrontation.
The programme to do so has already been prepared.
President of the World Holocaust Forum Foundation,
President of the European Jewish Congress,
Chairman of the European Jewish Fund