“From the late 1920s all the way through to the gas chambers of Auschwitz, most of Europe chose to excuse the fact that populations facing economic hardship could be bought off by scapegoating minorities, by turning inwards to the hatred of the other,” Kantor told the audience of European leaders, politicians and ambassadors. “This all sounds too familiar.”
“Today, amid economic turbulence on this continent, national parliaments contain increasing numbers of racists and anti-Semites. And it is to the immense shame of all of us that this European Parliament also contains such people.”
Call for Action
Chief rabbis to EU: Fight anti-Semitism / Kobi Nahshoni
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The event was also addressed by European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič, Irish Justice, Equality and Defense Minister Alan Shatter, European Parliament President Martin Schulz, Honorary Ambassador and special envoy of UNESCO for Holocaust and genocide education Dr. Samuel Pisar, and Prof. Władysław Bartoszewski, Polish secretary of state and the plenipotentiary of the prime minister for international dialogue.
During his address, Minister Shatter also related to the new wave of racism and anti-Semitism in Europe.
“We must not ignore the increase in anti-Semitism in Europe, the violence against individuals simply because they are Jewish, and the corrosive rise in racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric by a malign minority of politicians in some EU member states,” said Shatter, representing the revolving European Union presidency, which is currently held by Ireland.
“It is a moral imperative that we unequivocally repudiate the reprehensible rhetoric of those who seek to contaminate our political discourse and attempt to inflame dangerous prejudice.
“The Shoah did not begin in the death camps – it began with words of hate. Those words of hate became weapons of mass murder because good people closed their doors and window shutters and remained silent.”
President Schulz spoke about the significance of hosting, together with the EJC, this meaningful occasion. “The Shoah is a tragedy for all the Jewish communities of Europe and for Europe itself.
"It is therefore appropriate that this initiative to annually commemorate the victims of the Shoah in the European Parliament is a joint initiative of the elected representatives of Europe’s citizens gathered in this institution with the official representatives of Europe’s Jewish communities gathered under the representative umbrella of the European Jewish Congress.
“My presence here this evening together with EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor stands testimony to our collective commitment as European citizens to work together so that never again will such barbarism and intolerance befall our continent.”
The theme of this year’s event was a tribute to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising fighters,
whose struggle took place 70 years ago, and Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg,
who saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. The new Raoul Wallenberg room was inaugurated by EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström.
The event was attended by MEPs, ambassadors to the European Union and other high-level dignitaries; Holocaust survivors and members of Raoul Wallenberg’s family.
“We believed that if there was a lesson to be learned at the end of the Second World War and the reconstruction of Europe, it was that we could genuinely say, ‘Never again,'" Kantor said during his address.
“’Never again’ would there be political parties like Jobbik
calling for lists of Jews in Budapest. Many of these people are the children and grandchildren of those on the same lists of people to whom Raoul Wallenberg handed out Swedish passports to save their lives in the same city just 70 years ago.
“And we said ‘never again’ would there be demonstrations with swastika-type symbols in Athens, the country where 81% of the Jewish population were wiped out by the Nazis. This is a time of gathering storm clouds. This is not a golden dawn for Jews in Europe.”