EJP gathers in Poland for its General Assembly
The 120 Members of the European Jewish Parliament (EJP) from 47 countries gathered in Krakow, Poland, on January 28-29, where they held their first General Assembly of the year.
The gathering took place one day after International Holocaust Memorial Day marking the 68th anniversary of the Liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi Death Camp.
The General Assembly's sessions took place in Krakow's City Hall.
After the welcome greetings by Krakow Mayor, Mr Jacek Majchrowski, Israel's Ambassador to Poland Mr. Zvi Rav-Ner addressed the Assembly, commending the EJP's action in support of Israel within the European institutions.
Other guest speakers included Members of the Polish Parliament (Sejm) Ms. Beata Malecka-Libera and Mr. Jaroslaw Sellin, Holocaust survivor Mr. Emanuel Elbenger, Rector of Jagiellionian University Prof. Wojciech Nowak and Prof. Jan Hartman. Several Members of the Sejm, the Polish Parliament, and other Polish officials attended the plenary session.
EJP's General Assembly urged European leaders to combat anti-Semitism and racism, expressing growing concerns particularly at current developments in Hungary, with the rise of the extreme right anti-Semitic Jobbik party.
In this context, it was symbolically decided that the next EJP's General Assembly will take place in Budapest.
Separately, a parliamentary session was held between the EJP leadership and Members of the Sejm in order to define areas of cooperation between the two bodies. EJP has been invited to attend in May 2013 in Warsaw the Sejm's celebration of Israel's 65th anniversary.
During the 2-day meeting, MEJPs visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp, together with the President of the European Jewish Union (EJU) Mr. Igor Kolomoisky.
Chief Rabbi of All-Ukrainian Jewish Community Shmuel Kaminetzky, Chief Rabbi of Ukraine Moshe-Reuven Azman and Chief Rabbi of Cyprus Arie Zeev Raskin recited prayers at the monument in the Birkenau death camp remembering the six millions Jews exterminated by the Nazis.
At the Gala Dinner closing the General Assembly, keynote speaker Polish Member of the European Parliament Michal Kaminski delivered a much applauded speech, denouncing traditional anti-Semitism as well as the new form of anti-Semitism of those who are "using the words human rights or democracy for attacking Israel in the European Parliament", and praising Israel's soldiers "who are defending not only Israel but also Europe, in the war against terrorism".
EJP Co-Chairman Joel Rubinfeld explained the choice of Krakow for the General Assembly: "Firstly, Poland was the cradle of Jewish life in Europe before World War II. Half of the Jews murdered during the Holocaust were Polish and most of the Nazi exterminations camps were in Poland. It is important to remember where we come from and not to forget the horrors of the Holocaust, that's why we choose this very symbolic location, next to the biggest Jewish cemetery of the history: Auschwitz. Secondly, we are witnessing a revival of Jewish life in Poland which EJP wants to support and encourage in gathering Jewish leaders from all over Europe in Krakow. And thirdly, organizing our General Assembly in Poland is a way to express our gratitude to the Polish authorities who demonstrated during the last years on numerous occasions their friendship towards the Jewish people and the State of Israel."
EJP Co-Chairman Vadim Rabinovich said the choice of Budapest for the next European Jewish Parliament General Assembly "shows that we are willing to work together with the political leadership of countries in order to find solutions when serious problems of anti-Semitism are occurring."
Tomer Orni, EJU CEO said: The European Jewish Parliament is one of the most active and innovative political structures of European Jewry at present. We congratulate the Parliament for its achievements to-date.
Initiated by the EJU and inaugurated one year ago in Brussels, the European Jewish Parliament is an innovative forum voicing the thoughts, beliefs and ideas as well as concerns of European Jews.