Brussels (BE) – 5th of August, 2014
Concern and grief – these are the main feelings that many Jewish organizations and individuals are struggling with and expressing in these days, in regards to the war in Israel and in the Gaza Strip and the anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic episodes that have exploded all around Europe.
Student Unions in Europe are joining these voices of solidarity and condemnation, taking a stand in many different ways, through social media, press statements and public demonstrations .
EUJS expressed its solidarity with the people of Israel and supports Israel’s right to defend itself. We pray for a swift cessation of violence, and that no more innocent civilians will suffer, hoping that the current ceasefire will help create conditions for a sustainable peace. We uphold our solidarity and support for all organizations and individuals who seek to create a foundation for peace between Israelis and Palestinians through grassroots projects, dialogue and outreach.
Moreover, EUJS is horrified by violent anti-Semitic attacks that have happened these past days throughout Europe and the World, in what is a worrying form of importation of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. We strongly condemn these extremely violent anti-Semitic attacks and stand by the side of all the Jewish communities facing these threats in Europe today.
In the next weeks and months, EUJS will bring its unions to the European Parliament, Council of Europe and United Nations Human Rights Council to confront officials and civil society organizations with the undeniable threat that the Jewish communities are facing and to expose the inadequate response from governments and international institutions to the rise of anti-Semitism.
On July 27th the UUJS (Ukranian Union of Jewish Students) took part in a peaceful rally in front of the Israeli embassy in Kiev (Ukraine) to support Israel and Ukraine in their fight for a peaceful future, organized by activists feeling the shared pain of Israeli and Ukrainian people. The accompanying press statement read: "Many in the world condemned Israel simply for its attempts to protect themselves and their children, to defend its future. Ukraine faces a similar terrorist aggression in its eastern territories, and its military is fighting for Ukrainian independence and territorial integrity. A similar rally in support of Ukraine was conducted in Israel. The slogan of the rally: 'Two countries against terrorism. We pray for our countries'".
In France the Union des Étudiants Juifs de France (French Union of Jewish Students) attended a peaceful demonstration called La Marche Républicaine pour la paix, " juifs et musulmans main dans la main" (The Republican March for Peace, “Jews and Muslims hand in hand”) on August 3rd. “Here there are many more things that unite us rather than oppose us. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is used as a pretext to rise hatred. I think today we represent not only Jews and Muslims but mostly French citizens, the silent majority of the French who want to live in social peace around the values that unite us”, UEJF President Sacha Reingewirtz said during his speech.
In the UK on August 4th the National Union of Students voted to adopt a BDS policy, calling for sanctions on Israel and for all students' unions in the UK to bring boycott campaigns to their campuses. “The timing of this vote is extremely problematic. European Jewry is facing a period of unprecedented hostility in civil society with anti-Semitic incidents at a high. This month alone has seen over 130 incidents of anti-Semitic hate in the UK, recorded by the CST. The passing of this motion is a failure of NUS to maintain its duty of care to the variety of student groups it must endeavour to represent, particularly with the International Students Officer voting for BDS. The Jewish people have an inalienable right to self-determination, and on this principle, the Union of Jewish Students will not compromise”, the Union of Jewish Students expressed in a statement.
The Judiska Ungdomsförbundet i Sverige (JUS - Jewish Youth League of Sweden) offered to open a platform in order to share views and find support. “The situation in Sweden and Europe is terrible. JUS will do everything possible to raise attention to fight anti-Semitism and the false image that media are conveying”, they said in a statement on social media.
A message came also from the Union des Étudiants Juifs de Bélgique (Union of Belgian Jewish Students) after some anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic initiatives in Belgium: “UEJB mourns civilian victims, whether Israeli or Palestinian, and continues to encourage the dialogue between the different actors. In Belgium, we keep on promoting agreement and understanding between different communities, to fight against all forms of racism”.
Finally, in Italy this was the thought that UGEI (Italian Union of Jewish Students) President Simone Disegni shared with its members: “As pointed out by Rav A. Somekh in a beautiful testimony in Turin, we here have the task - as well as to inform us as much and as best as we can about what is happening in these hard times to inform who surrounds us properly – of doing Tefillà for our peers in Israel on such a difficult and dangerous mission, regardless of political views”.
In the picture: the demonstration "La Marche Républicaine pour la paix, " juifs et musulmans main dans la main"" (The Republican March for Peace, “Jews and Muslims hand in hand”) in France (photo by UEJF).