The Conference of European Rabbis gathered this week in Vienna, Austria, where they discussed political and halakhic issues currently on the agenda, including extreme rightist parties being elected to office in Europe, halakhic issues such as kosher slaughter, and others.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who was elected for a new five-year term as president of the Conference of European Rabbis, spoke to Arutz Sheva on the sidelines of the gathering, admitting that the situation in Europe today is “worrisome.”
While two years ago, the central question was whether Jews have a future in Europe, today the question is “does Europe have a future?” he said.
“We’re seeing that on one side, the radical right is getting votes in many countries. Here in Austria an extreme right-wing president was almost elected. On the other hand, we see that parties under the influence of the Islamic State and Islamism are gaining ground,” added Rabbi Goldschmidt.
“Europe today is dealing with the challenge of millions of potential migrants, with the challenge of Islamist terror, and because the European Union does not provide the security needed for those countries, radical right-wing parties are using the situation to gain traction in all those countries,” he continued.
Now that he’s been elected for another five-year term, Rabbi Goldschmidt promised that the Conference of European Rabbis will “do everything in our power to protect the Jews of Europe”.
“We’re going to ask governments to chip in and join in the costs of providing adequate security,” he said. “It is inconceivable that the communities themselves should foot the whole bill [for security]. It’s impossible. The governments are responsible for the security of every citizen, including the Jews.”
Addressing the problem of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Rabbi Goldschmidt opined that many Jews have still not understood that it is a problem.
“It’s not wrong to criticize Israel. Every Israeli criticizes Israel, every Jew criticizes Israel. But there is a very big difference between criticism and delegitimization, between criticism and boycott,” he stressed.
His main message to the Jews of Europe is: “One, don’t be afraid. Two, be united. Three, the Conference of European Rabbis are here with you.”