EUJS Statement on the Outrageous Level Up! Closing Plenary Events

The European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) strongly condemns the events that took place today during the closing plenary of the Level Up! event organised by the European Youth Forum (YFJ).

EUJS has been a Member Organisation of the YFJ since 1982, bringing the voice of European Jewish youth to this forum. Level Up! gathers more than 1300 young people from across Europe, in Brussels, Belgium. This edition focused on the upcoming European elections, to exchange and learn how to boost youth political engagement.

EUJS brought a delegation of 13 Jewish student Union representatives from 9 European countries. Throughout the event, our delegates contributed significantly and meaningfully to the conference, taking part in workshops and lectures. This way, they actively brought the voice of Jewish students to the table, thanks to productive discussions and exchanges about youth participation and the future of Europe.

During the closing plenary of the Level Up! event, held in the hemicycle of the European Parliament, some participants took advantage of a moment of transition to disrupt the ceremony, shouting “Free Palestine”, “Ceasefire Now” and accusing Israel of committing genocide. Most of the plenary started clapping, including the moderators and various board and staff members of the YFJ. Moreover, after requesting the floor, a participant taught the entire hemicycle how to say “Free Palestine” in sign language.

EUJS President and head of the delegation Emma Hallali stood up, in front of more than a thousand people, to condemn the actions and the importation of the Middle East conflict in a youth event about the European Elections. In reaction to the EUJS President’s words the crowd started booing and insulting her, accusing her of “hate speech” and labelling her as a “fascist Zionist”. Therefore, the EUJS President left the room, while still being attacked by the plenary.

In a space where everyone should have felt safe, Jewish students, once again, felt threatened. Some members of the EUJS delegation started crying and others were shaking. As if the whole situation was not tense enough, some of the participants approached the EUJS delegation diminishing their visible sense of vulnerability.

How is it that European Jewish students felt uncomfortable and unsafe while sitting in the plenary of the hemicycle – the place that should be the house of European democracy? 

For the past months, EUJS has been at the forefront of promoting dialogue within the European Youth Forum space. One proof of this commitment is the recent submission and adoption of the motion “Fostering Unity in Challenging Times”, a document aimed at countering polarisation and one-sided narratives in Europe. The proposal of a motion aimed at fostering unity followed intense debates that deeply stressed communities affected by the current Hamas-Israel war, active within the YFJ.

The incident that occurred today was a public humiliation for the EUJS President and EUJS as a whole. This happened within the walls of the European Parliament, on an occasion that was supposed to bring together the voices and the spirits of thousands of young European activists that believe in a united and diverse Europe based on European values.

As Emma Hallali, EUJS President, expressed after the unfolding of events, “I saw violence and hatred in the participants’ eyes. I have never experienced this aggressiveness before, but this is what European Jews are experiencing on a daily basis across Europe”.

EUJS calls the YFJ to issue a strong condemnation of the appalling and intolerable circumstances that happened this evening in the hemicycle of the European Parliament, unequivocally standing in solidarity with Jewish students.