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Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs. 'Grateful for warning'
Photo: Han Janssen
Dutch rabbi rejects call for Jews to leave
Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, chairman of Rabbinical Council for Netherlands, says 'it is a good idea for Dutch Jews to move to Israel, but only if it is out of free will and not to be forced out'
Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, the chief rabbi of Inter-Provincial Chief Rabbinate (IPOR), chairman of the Rabbinical Council for the Netherlands, disavowed the comments made by Frits Bolkestein, former European Commissioner and ex-leader of Holland's ruling rightist VVD party, who claimed that practicing Jews had “no future here, and should emigrate to the US or Israel.”

 

Rabbi Jacobs said he rejects Bolkestein’s statement that Jews should leave because of, in Bolkestein’s words, "the anti-Semitism among Dutchmen of Moroccan descent, whose numbers keep growing."

 

“I am grateful for the warning but I reject the concept,” Rabbi Jacobs, a prominent member of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE), an organization dedicated to meeting the needs of Jewish communities in Europe, said. “Bolkestein is pessimistic, and I am an optimist. I think it is a good idea for Dutch Jews to move to Israel, but only if it is out of free will and not to be forced out.”

 

“Yes it is true, there is an increase of anti-Semitism, but the support we receive as Jews from the Dutch people is on the whole very warm and impressive.”

 

The statement made by Bolkestein, was published in the recently released book "Het Verval" (The Decline), written by Manfred Gerstenfeld, a Netherlands-raised Holocaust survivor and senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Rabbi Jacobs also contributed to the book.

 

'Deal with problem before its too late'

The RCE Deputy Director said that Bolkestein’s comments should serve as a wake-up call for European leaders. “While we do not accept Bolkestein’s calls to leave Europe because of anti-Semitism, it should alarm all Europeans, especially its leadership, that someone so prominent expresses such concerns about anti-Semitism,” RCE Deputy Director Rabbi Arye Goldberg said.

 

“We are definitely concerned that there are places in Europe where it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a recognizable Jew. However, the answer isn’t that the Jews should leave but the European leadership needs to act now and deal with this problem before it is too late.”

 

“An RCE delegation just returned from Albania and Estonia where we personally witnessed the close relations between the Jewish community and the government. In places like these anti-Semitism is almost negligible. Perhaps these countries serve as paradigms that should be replicated in other parts of Europe.”

 

The RCE recently completed visits to Estonia where they met with the President and Prime Minister and to Albania where they were instrumental in the inauguration of that nation’s first chief rabbi, through its meetings with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha.

 

 

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