Addressing antisemitism is a top priority for Europe before recognizing a Palestinian state, says leading rabbi

Following the announcement that they would recognize a Palestinian state, the President of the Conference of European Rabbis and the exiled Chief Rabbi of Moscow, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, told Newsweek that Oct. 7 “came with a message: it is politically correct to be an anti-Semite again.” He said this has made the past seven months “the most difficult time” for European Jews “since the Holocaust.”

Goldschmidt explained that it is vital for Ireland, Norway and Spain “to understand that their declaration not only impacts the Middle East, it impacts the life and security of their own Jewish citizens.”

Goldschmidt believes European countries that recognize a Palestinian state need to accept the extent to which terrorist and totalitarian entities influence the region. For “a two-state solution, you have to deradicalize the population. And then you can start building the bricks which are going to build an independent state for the Palestinians. But as long as the population is controlled by Iranian proxies, by a totalitarian ideology of radical Islam… it is not going to bring peace. It is going to bring war, and again, God forbid, the 7th of October.” 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez stated his country would diplomatically recognize a Palestinian state with its pre-1967 borders, according to an AP report. The recognition “is not against the Israeli people” but is rather “in favor of peace, justice and moral consistency.” On May 23, Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Díaz posted a video to TikTok in which she stated that “Palestinians will be free from the river to the sea.” The Times of Israel reported that Díaz later claimed that her use of the phrase was intended to support a two-state solution. For many, the phrase is considered a call to eliminate the state of Israel.

There are concerns among the Jewish community that pro-Palestinian sentiments in the country have led to increased anti-Semitism inside Spain. 

Jewish leaders penned an open letter in early May to the Spanish Conference of Rectors to decry their “complacency and permissiveness” in allowing anti-Semitic demonstrations to take place on Spanish campuses since Oct. 7, the European Jewish Congress reported. In their letter, leaders also noted that the Spanish Conference of Rectors spoke out after Oct. 7 “not to condemn, but only to reject” the terror attack, which the rectors referred to as a “military escalation.” 

During the six months following Oct. 7, the Observatory for Religious Freedom and Conscience registered 36 attacks on Spain’s Jewish community. These included an attack on a synagogue, boycotts on Jewish businesses, a Star of David hung from a gallows, and anti-Semitic graffiti at a Barcelona public school reading “Hitler was right.”

Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris “Palestinian statehood will contribute to peace and to reconciliation in the Middle East. A peace that honors the legitimate aspirations of all people in the region to live with respect, justice, security and dignity free from violence or the threat of violence.” 

At home, however, there is criticism that some Irish leaders have stoked anti-Israel tensions.

Maurice Cohen, chairman of the Jewish Representative Council in Ireland, on Oct. 18 that Irish Jews were feeling supported by their communities after Hamas’ attack, but that statements from members of parliament had been “far from adequate.”

In April, a primary and secondary school curriculum about the Israel-Palestinian conflict garnered criticism from the World Jewish Congress’ president, Ronald S. Lauder. According to Lauder, the lessons charged Israel with genocide, failed to report on Hamas’ atrocities, and encouraged students to “join the fight for Palestinian justice” without mentioning a peace process that would include Israel. 

The World Jewish Congress asked the Irish government to “prevent the use of this pernicious curriculum” in favor of one that “reflects historical truths and promotes peace.”

Israeli officials have noted that the country is among the most hostile toward the Jewish state. Ireland’s Jewish population is only around 2,200 members. 

As a recognition of Palestinian statehood, Norwegian that they will convert their diplomatic office in the West Bank into an embassy. 

Though no available statistical data demonstrate the frequency of anti-Semitic incidents in Norway, Oslo’s Rabbi Joav Melchior  in February that the country has experienced “a wave of anti-Semitism that we have not seen before.” Melchior said Norwegian Jews are now debating whether to stay in the country. 

Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide was photographed in May with Mona Osman, the daughter of Palestinian terrorist Walid Osman, the . Osman was part of a Palestinian Liberation Organization splinter group that on Paris Jews that left six dead, including two Americans. In the photo with Eide, Osman’s daughter holds a sign saying “F— Israel, F— capitalism, F— NATO.” 

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement that Eide was not aware of the text, and “repeatedly supports NATO and Israel.” Osman boasted on social media that she had “radicalized Foreign Minister Eide.”

In France, Germany and Poland, synagogues have been attacked. Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized in Austria and Belgium, and Jewish graves were damaged in Moulin-sous-Touvent, north of Paris.

Holocaust memorials in Drancy and Paris, Rome, Berlin, and Copenhagen have been defaced. Murals featuring young Holocaust victims, including Anne Frank, were also reportedly vandalized in Milan.

In March, that a Swiss teen attacked a 50-year-old Jewish man in Zurich, leading Swiss authorities to increase security at Jewish establishments. In May, the president of the Union of Jewish Students of Belgium was assaulted at a violent anti-Israel protest at Brussels University, according to Reuters. 

Of the recorded in the U.K. in 2023, 2,140 took place in London. Israeli Minister for Disaspora Affairs and Combating Anti-Semitism Amichai Chikli said he considers the British capital “the most anti-Semitic city” because of “the atmosphere created by pro-Hamas supporters.”

As Europe’s Jewish population is targeted with hate, Rabbi Goldschmidt noted that Israelis still face the harrowing reality that it “is impossible to live with Hamas next door.” He said the “only real discussion going on between parts of society in Israel today is what comes first, the return of the hostages, or the destruction of Hamas.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.