European youth heed the call to stand with Israel amidst alarming rise of antisemitism

Brussels, April 8th, 2024 – Twenty young adults, aged 20-27, representing fifteen countries, met in Brussels last week for a two-day Youth conference to learn how to become more effective in combating antisemitism in an attempt by European Coalition for Israel to strengthen the young pro-Israel voice in Europe.

Many of the participants noted how the young generation is becoming increasingly anti-Israel due to biased media reports and the pressure from vocal pro-Palestinian activists on social media and on the streets in Europe, which in some cases has made them no-go-zones for Jews.

“It is our responsibility as young Europeans to keep our streets safe for our Jewish friends,” conference host Rebeka Goba of ECI pointed out. “The government of Israel cannot make our streets safe for Jews, nor can the various European institutions do it, but together we can ensure a future for Jewish life in Europe and a safe and secure State of Israel,” she said.

Many Members of the European Parliament shared with the participants about their experiences of standing with the Jewish people in the European arena despite pressure from many quarters to back down. Deputy Permanent Representative of Israel to the EU, Jonathan Rosenzweig expressed his disappointment over the fact that there were those policy makers in Brussels who objected to the solidarity trip to Israel by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen immediately after the terror attack of October 7. “While the blood from the Israeli victims had not even dried up there were those who were already upset over the simple fact that the EU for once expressed unconditional support and solidarity with Israel”, he said. Still, others pointed out that the current EU leadership, with only a few exceptions, has been very vocal in its support of Israel after October 7.

Conference host at the European Parliament, outgoing MEP Jörg Meuthen from Germany explained how he could never compromise with his core believes in supporting Israel. His conviction has since made him part ways with his former party AfD which has taken an increasingly negative stance towards Israel. One MEP explained how Europe seemed incapable of speaking in favour of good relations with Israel without making it conditional on progress in the negotiations for a two-state solution. Another MEP, speaking on the condition on anonymity, explained how it was more difficult for the Europeans to embrace the Abraham Accords than it was for the former enemies of Israel to sign them.

In a statement after the conference, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell pointed out the importance of raising up a new generation of pro-Israel leaders. “What we can see from this conference is that there are many passionate and capable young friends of Israel across Europe but that most of them are isolated on their college campuses or in work life. By identifying and bringing together these future leaders for training and support we can build an even stronger network of pro-Israel advocates in years to come.”

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