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Dear Rabbi Margolin,
Dear President of the Parliament,
Dear Members of the Jewish Community,
Dear Prime Minister,
First of all, I never would have thought, that it is going to be here that I meet so many friends – this is the first wisdom of the day.
The second wisdom of today for me was, that the only way to defeat death of the Holocaust is to bring life. Only life can defeat death. So, this price today is priceless to me, because of course we are all working for one cause: to make the world a better place.
We have to start somewhere, so I started here. And I think that those who are working tirelessly, like my good friend, have shown the world, that we can change it. We can save lives; we can save people today in this world.
Because today we are commemorating the legacy of the Kristallnacht. Do not forget, we have to honour the victims of the Shoah, by standing up for those who are living. We need to save them also from Ukraine, as we speak, but we also have to stand up for them, and their memories every day everywhere.
Because of course much has been told about the Holocaust and the unforgivable sin of the Nazis - and it is very difficult to talk about it. But still, I think, we should talk about it, and maybe we should talk about it in a way, in a language, that our generation understands. And this would be the bridge of “never again” - how to make Europe, the Europe, that has been there at the beginning of the century, when Jewish life was flourishing.
And our job is to bring back Jewish life as it was before the Holocaust. This is quite a challenge, but I think we have already started working on that together.
This is why I think that if we want to keep the memory of the Shoah alive in the future, we have to create a new era, based on this.
And this era must be done together with the people. Because we can preach, we can craft messages and speeches, but it is the people who change the world.
Because an era in which anti-Semitism, hatred to violence and incitement are on the rise again, are not going to help us.
We see terrorist attacks on synagogues, we see hate speech online and offline, we see murders. We see Jews being harassed because of the simple fact of wearing the Kippa in a public place, and we see demonstrations in Europe – again and again. And we have seen this before. This is crude anti-Semitism.
And anti-Semitism brought along also anti-Zionism. Anti-Zionism, which I think, is also a denial of Jewish life.
Standing up against anti-Semitism is something that we have to not only beat, but we have to make it very clear. That this is not only, not negotiable, but this is not a question of majorities, this is not a question of procedures, this is a core value.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
where are we going to bring life back?
We have been engaging together with the state Israel in quite challenging times: to change the minds in Europe about Judaism, about Jewish culture, and the major contribution it has always given to Europe.
For me it is very clear, that we have to go down and work with the people. I give you some examples that we are working on.
You know, I am not only responsible for Israel; I am also responsible for other countries. I am responsible for twenty-two countries. And I remember vividly when entering the Commission, I thought that it is obvious to everyone what I think, but it wasn’t. And that it was obvious for everyone, what needs to be done. But it wasn’t.
But I am very proud, that more and more, it becomes obvious what needs to be done. This is why I am very proud, that we are not only defending Jewish life in Europe, but also around Europe. Because do not forget, that the EU is not Europe. The continent is much bigger. Jewish life is much bigger than the continent.
This is why we are working on a cemetery and a synagogue in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is why in Ukraine we are working together. This is why in Morocco we are having projects.
And this is why we are engaging with the State of Israel on the new language, the new language which is called Abraham Accords. Because that is the only way to bring peace, stability and prosperity forward. Not only for Europe and in Europe, but beyond. And this is why I think Europe should start learning this language. And maybe, speak that language.
In addition, we are also taking decisive steps to address the foundations of peace, and this is why we are resolute to make sure that no EU funds can contribute to incitement to hatred.
This is why we are committed not to share any of European funds to organisations or people who are inciting to hatred, violence or terrorism, who are not complying with their educational system or other basic standards. Because anti-Semitism, inciting to hatred and violence, glorification of terrorism has no place in classrooms within the EU or outside the EU and EU taxpayers shall not fund it.
Last but certainly not least, we are of course working with the Jewish community to bring the everyday life back. Meaning, that people should be proud of being Jews.