Rabbi Saperstein: " The attacks on three synagogues and anti-Israel demonstrations that spill into violence against Jews are painful reminders that anti-Semitism continues to plague too many Jewish communities."
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 15, 2014 - In response to recent anti-Semitic episodes in Los Angeles and Paris, as well as incidents across the United States and Europe, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
"We are deeply disturbed by the recent violent anti-Semitic and anti-Israel uprisings. Over the weekend, rioters, wielding bats and chairs, tried to break into the Don Isaac Abravanel synagogue in Paris while worshippers were blocked inside. In Los Angeles' Westwood neighborhood, a peaceful demonstration was violently disrupted by agitators, leading to shots being fired. In Frankfurt, a local synagogue was attacked as an anti-Israel rally turned violent. In Bastille Square, demonstrators held signs that read 'Death to Jews.'
The attacks on synagogues and the anti-Israel demonstrations that spill over into violence are part of a series of anti-Semitic incidences in Western Europe coinciding with the recent escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These events are painful reminders that anti-Semitism continues to plague too many Jewish communities. Such incidents are alarming indications that the thin line between anti-Semitism and many anti-Israeli activities is evaporating.
As home to the largest population of Jews outside of the United States and Israel, we often see France as a bell-weather of the situation for Jews and religious minorities in Europe. Especially this week, as the French people celebrate their independence and democratic society, it is a propos that we be reminded that French citizens -- of all faiths and of non-faith -- have a right to live their lives free from violence and intimidation. Towards that goal, we acknowledge the efforts of the French authorities to address the causes and manifestation of such incidents.
In light of these recent events across the globe, we urge law enforcement, political and civic leaders to be even more assertive in efforts to secure the safety of Jewish citizens and institutions. Our hearts go out to the Jewish community of Paris and all the affected communities and we pledge our ongoing support to help ensure the safety of Jews throughout Europe and the world."