Israeli officials warn European counterparts of jihadists’ threat to Jews

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Israeli diplomats told their European counterparts that they were worried about the safety of Jews in Europe because of jihadists.

The subject was broached earlier this week in Jerusalem during the eighth annual seminar on combating racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism held between the European Commission and Israel, according to Gideon Behar, director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s department for combating anti-Semitism.

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The decision to flag the threat for the first time at the dialogue was made after the slaying of four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels, Behar told JTA on Wednesday.

“This attack, which is attributed to a North African jihadist, is the second of its kind in two years,” he said in reference also to the killing of four Jews in Toulouse in 2012. “We wanted to discuss jointly ways of addressing this threat.”

Israel rarely comments publicly on internal EU issues that do not concern it directly.

But “as the Jewish state, Israel has an interest that Jews be able to live safely everywhere,” Behar said. “Additionally, anti-Semitism in general and jihadism in particular also threaten Israelis abroad and in Europe.”

At the meeting, Behar presented a French-language Facebook page that was published this summer, during Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza, featuring pictures and details about French Jews with calls to kill them.

“We are observing a growing awareness to how anti-Semitism is a threat to democracy in Europe, and our European interlocutors expressed a strong desire to combat it by all means available,” Behar said. “Anti-Semitism is like an Ebola virus that threatens the civilized world.”

The European delegation’s statement did not name radical Islam but noted that “the debate addressed the threat of radicalization in Europe and the preventive actions that are being taken.”