20 November 2018

Interview with leading European chief rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), spoke to Arutz Sheva as the Standing Committee of the CER visited the Knesset to discuss the rise of the far-right in Europe.

Rabbi Goldschmidt sought to send a message to the Israeli right during his discussions at the Knesset.

“One of the reasons we came to Israel is to discuss mutual issues with politicians, and one of the issues we’re having is that within the Israeli right and the religious right in Israel, there are some voices saying, ‘Let’s sit together with the European extreme right,’” he said, adding he was specifically talking about the Freedom Party in Austria.

“Of course we believe in teshuva (repentance), in the ability of every human being to change, and every political party can change as well, but has this political party really changed? Are they not racist anymore?” added Rabbi Goldschmidt, who pointed out that the party is just as racist as it was in the past, except that its primary target has changed and it no longer targets Jews.

“Let’s not forget, the attacks against religious freedom of the Jewish community in Europe, the attacks against shechita and brit milah and lately against Jewish education and religious education come from these quarters,” he reminded.

The response that the delegation received was that Israel does not deal with these extremist politicians unless their local community deals with them, but nevertheless, said Rabbi Goldschmidt, it was important to hold these meetings because “there are some politicians in the Knesset who have not yet received our message.”

He also pointed out that many Jews around the world are in danger of assimilating and Israel has a great responsibility towards these Jews.

“We would like to partner with Israel in this responsibility,” said Rabbi Goldschmidt, who opined that Israel is not yet doing enough to prevent assimilation but is on the right track. “This new Nation-State Law clearly states this challenge, and we are here to work together with the Israeli government to do this.”