15 June 2021
Since the latest escalation of violence in the Middle East, we have seen a dangerous increase of antisemitism across Europe. In fewer than two weeks, antisemitic incidents in the UK alone increased by roughly 500 %. While exact numbers are still outstanding for the rest of Europe, we have seen an incredible escalation of jew-hatred.
Across Europe, including in Bonn, Münster and Norwich, Synagogues were attacked. In Gelsenkirchen, Germany demonstrators shouted: “fuck the Jews” (“scheiss Juden”) in front of a Synagogue, In Vienna, Austria, an antisemitic demonstration compared Zionism with Nazism, distorted the Shoa, called for the mass murder of Jews, and waved green Shahāda flag which is associated with Hamas. An antisemitic motorcade went through Jewish neighbourhoods of North London, shouting “Fuck the Jews, rape their daughters!” In various cities, including Brussels, London, Berlin and Vienna, demonstrators shouted “Khaybar Khaybar, ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad, sa yahud” a reference to a medieval massacre of Jews, widely seen as a call to kill Jews today. In Berlin, demonstrators called for the death of Jews, to bomb Tel-Aviv (“Udrub, Udrub Tel-Abib”), attacked an Israeli reporter and showed solidarity with Hamas and PFLP, which are listed as terrorist organizations by the European Union. In Vienna, antisemites tried to storm and interrupt Jewish students demonstrating against all forms of antisemitism. A man shouted, “you can shove your Holocaust up your ass” while people around him clapped. In London, a Rabbi was assaulted and struck over his head with a brick. In Vienna, a group of Jewish girls were pelted with stones.
These are just some examples of the recent explosion of antisemitism in Europe. At the same time, there was also an extreme rise of antisemitism online, which did not only force many young Jews to deactivate Social Media but also very often leads to physical violence.
One such example is, unfortunately, an Instagram story of Zamzam Ibrahim, Vice-President of the European Student’s Union (ESU). Who, alongside a slew of problematic content, shared an Instagram post in her story on May 15 with the following content:
“If you are silent when it comes to Palestine, you would have been silent at the time of the Holocaust”
During its 75th Board Meeting in Budva, on December 10, 2018, the European Student’s Union commendably adopted a resolution on “Combating anti-Semitism: student unions to take responsibility”.
In the motion, the European Student’s Union resolved to tackle antisemitism in all its forms and adopted the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, including all of its examples. The IHRA Definition is clear: criticizing the Israeli government and its action is not antisemitic, and, of course, everyone is entitled to do just that in as harsh terms as they see fit.
But the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism is also clear: Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is antisemitic. The Instagram Post Zamzam Ibrahim shared does exactly that. It is also a shocking and gross relativization of the industrial mass slaughter of millions of Jews, Roma, Members of the LGBTQI+ community, people with disabilities and others during the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators, which causes immense pain to many survivors and their descendants.
The European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS), the peer-led and democratic representation of Europe’s Jewish student, and an associate member of ESU take issue with Zamzam Ibrahim’s statement.
The European Student Union as the representation of Europe’s 20 million students, including its 165.000 Jewish students cannot tolerate such instances of antisemitism, which are not only wrong and dangerous for Europe’s Jewish students but is also in contrast with ESU Policy.
ESU committed itself to call out discrimination and inappropriate behaviour that is in conflict with its Code of Conduct regardless of whether this takes place during or outside of ESU events as stated in the Code of Conduct under “Reporting outside ESU events”. This is why we have officially sent a complaint to the ESU Equality Coordinator.
We believe that members of the ESU Executive have a responsibility towards all students in Europe. This is why we can not tolerate such utterances that engage in antisemitism and relativization of the Holocaust.
We call on Zamzam Ibrahim to distance herself from the post and to publicly apologise. If that should not happen in due time, we call on the European Student’s Union to take disciplinary action and remove Zamzam Ibrahim from its Executive.
No tolerance for antisemitism!