On March 28th more than hundred people gathered in front of the French Embassy in Brussels in order to pay tribute to Mireille Knoll Z"L.
The brutal murder of Mireille Knoll Z"L - a French citizen and Holocaust survivor - shocked us all as Jews, as Europeans, as people. It was yet another reminder of the looming antisemitism in our society, against which, in the words of Elie Wiesel "there must never be a time when we fail to protest".
The brutal murder of Mireille Knoll, stabbed to death and burnt by her neighbor, touched us all. As 10.000 participated at the Marche Blanche in Paris and all over France to pay tribute to Madame Knoll and to stand against antisemitism, in Brussels we gathered in front of the French Embassy, lighting a candle in her memory. The Brussels Chief Rabbi Albert Guigui recited Kaddish, the Jewish prayer of mourning.
The Ambassador of France to Belgium, H.E. Claude-France Arnould asked to convey how much she appreciated the solidarity of everyone who showed up for the French State, for the French community and for the French Jews and how at the same time France is there for the Jewish community, in France, in Belgium and everywhere.
Starting the commemoration, EUJS President Alina Bricman emphasized that "We are here to commemorate Mireille Knoll… but also to celebrate and pay tribute to her life." Alina also stressed that "In the last days what we have seen is really that her life became a symbol of resilience and the symbol of coming together. The fact that we are all here together I think is the most important thing. The fact that this brought us all together as a Jewish community, as a European community. We are all together here to pay tribute to Mireille Knoll."
Yohan Benizri, President of the CCOJB, the Belgian federation of Jewish communities, speaking in French reflected on the need to understand what the root cause of antisemitism is and why it persists in our society, highlighting the need for joint European action – antisemitism is a problem of the whole society, it is not a Jewish problem.
Ariella Woitchik, Director of Legal and Public Affairs of the European Jewish Congress recalled Primo Levi: "The plague of the Shoah has died away, but the infection still lingers and it would be foolish to deny it. Rejection of human solidarity, cynical indifference to the suffering of others, and above all, at the root of everything, a sweeping tide of cowardice". Ms Woitchik expressed that "Once again, antisemitic violence has become a daily reality in Europe. The sheer perversity of these hate crimes shocks us." In her wake-up call, the EJC's Director said that "we must call on European society not to be indifferent to our suffering any longer, not to treat these events as simply "another Jewish tragedy", but to stop with this cowardice and denounce these evil crimes".
We concluded the ceremony by singing together "Eli, Eli", the Hannah Szenes Senesh poem.