Former European Parliament president Martin Schulz and other speakers at the Dialogue of Civilizations (DOC) Rhodes Forum condemned the antisemitic attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany. Expressing shame at the lack of security, the German politician described the attack as “one of the most unacceptable things in my life.”
The Rhodes Forum, which has brought together leaders in politics, business and other fields since 2003, included frequent references to the rising intolerance globally and in Europe in particular that has fed antisemitism as well as intolerance against Muslims and other groups.
Schulz spoke passionately about the need to bring hundreds of thousands of people into the streets to show that Germany stands against rising antisemitism. He said that the same should be the case across the European Union. “I remember after the attacks in Paris, and one million came out to show solidarity. We must also tell stories to the people, “he said.
“One of the most touching events I saw in my life was the young man from Mali, a Muslim, working in the supermarket in Paris who saved 27 Jewish people attacked by this Islamist terrorist,” he said. This was a reference to the 2015 attack in Paris against the Hypercacher supermarket where five people were killed, including the gunman.
Speaking at a press conference at the forum, Schulz said that we should tell the positive stories of those who helped save people, to show that the majority are willing to confront hate and send the right message to citizens. “I am ashamed as a German citizen, after what happened in the name of my nation, that Jewish people are not secured in my country.”
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who joined Schulz on stage at the event, also condemned the attack. “I think Angela Merkel coming to express solidarity was an important sign. It is incumbent upon the leaders in the respective countries to make very explicit statements that will try to impact public opinion in the countries and make the expressions of antisemitism unpopular,” he said.
Olmert is one of several high-profile speakers at the Rhodes Forum this year, along with the President of Niger, and authors and intellectuals from Europe to China. Olmert said that it was important for leaders in Europe to show “zero tolerance for antisemitic expressions.”
Vladimir Yakunin, chairman of the DOC Research Institute, underlined the importance of countries being able to protect their citizens. He said that progressive forces should stand together against these kinds of attacks and not allow for a fruitful soil where terrorists can rise.
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