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Threat Towards Jews As High Today As At Any Point Since Second World War

26/01/2017 16:02 GMT | Updated 26/01/2017 16:02 GMT

The revelation that the Islamic State bombers who attacked Brussels airport last year deliberately targeted Jewish people should serve as a powerful warning to those who seek to diminish the threat against our communities.

As we mark International Holocaust Memorial Day this Friday, we must acknowledge that the escalating threat towards Jews is as high today as at any point since the Second World War.

According to reports, the Belgian-led investigation into the bombing at Zaventem airport last March believes that travellers to Israel, as well as passengers going to the United States, may have been singled out by the attackers, who killed 16 people. One bomber was apparently seen following Hasidic Jews seconds before the blast. "We know they were obsessed with the Israelis," the source added when asked if the bomber targeted Israeli check-ins.

Jews in Europe are facing a threat unique to our people. Unlike any other minority, we are targets of the far-Right, the far-Left and Islamist extremists too. It is shocking that more than 70 years after the Holocaust, Jews across Europe continue to live in fear. Once again, tens of thousands of Jews are fleeing Europe, with a record number leaving France.

Germany, long a bastion of tolerance and social-cohesion, has also seen a pronounced increase in hate crimes. According to the Diaspora Affairs Ministry last weekend, the number of reported antisemitic attacks in Germany doubled last year, and the UK saw a increase of 62 per cent.

The spike in hate crime that we see today has parallels with the darkest days of 1930s Germany, and requires our collective vigilance to identify signs of hatred developing and to stop it before it grows. It cannot be ruled out that by the end of the year certain far-Right and neo-Nazi parties will gain significant power in some European countries.

In a world where extremists are using and manipulating the past to serve their own agenda, when Europe is facing an upsurge in antisemitism, Holocaust denial and trivialisation, we need leaders who will put aside political differences and cultural clashes, and work together to protect our citizens and our freedoms.

This is a message I am taking to the European Parliament today, as the European Jewish Congress host the official ceremony to commemorate the Shoah, remember its horrors, and honour the survivors. Generations of Jews have grown up since the Holocaust believing they had a home in Europe, like everyone else. But now that is changing. To reverse the tide of hatred, I believe action should be focused on three main dimensions - security, education and prevention, and legislation. The European Jewish Congress has already established a Security and Crisis Centre in Austria, where we are working with all relevant authorities.

We must be able to count on the whole of Europe to continue to uphold the commitments it made to the Jewish community after the Holocaust. To ignore the warning signs is not just a grave threat to Jews, and to minority ethnic and religious groups. It endangers the very existence of free, tolerant, democratic society in Europe.