Mathew Bronfman, the Chair of the Limmud FSU International Steering Committee, stated at a festival which took place in Chişinău, Moldova in May, ”Anti-Semitism is not disappearing”.
“on the contrary, ” he said”, “it is gaining strength in a new way and is manifested in hatred for Israel and Israelis. After the Second Lebanon War, Israel has become in the eyes of the world, a hostile nation which mainly only knows how to attack.”
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He also referred to the growth of anti-Semitism in Europe, suggesting that the growth of right-wing extremist parties in such countries as Turkey and Greece threatens the existence of Israel. “The main reason for the anti-Semitic outbreaks in these countries, in my opinion, is them putting the blame for their miserable situation on external factors; in this case, we the Jews are the external factor.”
Alexander Bilinkis said that anti-Semitism is most dangerous when it is concealed. “This becomes apparent on the social level and we cannot remain indifferent. Our community is fighting it on all fronts and we are initiating legislation to increase heavily the penalties for anti-Semitic acts.”
During the conference, a round-table discussion took place on anti-Semitism which is on the rise in Europe, with the participation of Bronfman, Chesler, Sandra Cahn, Co-founder of Limmud FSU, and Alexander Bilinkis, Chairman of the Jewish community of Moldova.
“The Jewish population of Kishinev is small but very dynamic” said Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU, adding, “We were very happy to be coming here for the third time and to meet hundreds of young Jews; we are deeply impressed by their strong link to Jewish identity and culture.”
Bronfman was accompanying his 19 year-old daughter Sasha, on a roots visit to Ataki, the small town from which the Bronfman family emigrated to Canada at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Limmud FSU (Education — former Soviet Union) festival gave, the more than 400 young Jewish participants, a choice of dozens of lectures, workshops, presentations and cultural events in a fascinating multi-faceted program. The events are organized, planned and run by volunteers in cooperation with the local Jewish communities.