We, the rabbis of the European Rabbinic Assembly, are troubled by the increasing xenophobia, rising extremism and intolerance raging across Europe. In many countries, Jews and other minorities have faced discrimination, attacks, and even been murdered for being different. We extend our sympathy and support to all who suffer from violence and discrimination.
This distressing trend makes it difficult, even dangerous, to wear visible Jewish symbols in many places in Europe. Other minority communities are also face similar challenges. Our concern about the current climate of intolerance and fear is grounded in our historical experience. As Jews we abide by the biblical mandate “to love your neighbour as yourself”. As Europeans, we cannot stand idly by as our fundamental liberal democratic values are eroded.
The Europe that we hold dear is tolerant, open and welcoming to all its Jewish communities and all its minorities. We must guarantee and defend the fundamental rights of all who live here. We celebrate and appreciate the rich tapestry of European cultures. We urge Europe’s leaders and people to ensure that all its inhabitants can be safe and secure in expressing their individual identity without being subject to discrimination or violence.
We value the people across Europe who stand up for the rights of minorities, often in the face of fear and violence. We encourage our fellow Europeans of all backgrounds and political persuasions to make this the norm; to speak out for and protect their own rights and the rights of others. Everyone must be treated with respect, including in cyberspace.
We call on our political, social and religious leaders to fight both religious and political extremism. Together we must promote peaceful, respectful, inclusive societies. As rabbis, we look forward to working with these leaders to accomplish this. We urge our political and civic leaders to fully implement the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In addition, as rabbis, we extend our hand in welcome to our neighbours to engage with us, to learn about one another and build positive relationships without prejudice. (To find your nearest Jewish community click here.)
Let us work together to address these challenges and make a Europe that is safe and open to us all.