Italian member of the European Parliament Fulvio Martusciello got a standing ovation at the first international policy conference of ELNET (European Leaership Network), a pro-Israel advocacy NGO, after delivering an impassionate pro-Israel speech, denouncing the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and advocating the defense of democracy ahead of next year’s European elections.

Speaking  in Paris on Tuesday, Martusciello, who is the chairman of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Israel, stressed the necessity of reporting the truth about Israel in the E.U. institution. “Too many members in the European Parliament speak about Israel without knowing Israel at all,” he noted.

He acknowledged that the defense of Israel in the European Parliament is “fragile as we have to deal with an Islamist offensive” and stressed the need to fight against the disloyal boycott of Israel.  He recalled that last year, as a rapporteur for the competition policy report in the Economic Committee of the European Parliament, he managed to introduce a clause that could protect Israel against boycotts in Europe.

Martusciello is a member of the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), the largest political group in the European Parliament.

In his address, he also largely denounced the fact that several countries in Europe have become the “cradle of anti-Semitism,” citing in particular Sweden, “where young Jews cannot wear a kipah in the streets of Malmö,” but also anti-Semitic attacks in France and Germany. He noted that in places that witnessed terrorist attacks in Europe there are also anti-Semitic attacks.

“We cannot accept violence against Jews and hiding the religion. We shouldn’t be afraid of wearing a kipah or a crucifix. This is not the Europe that I represent,” he insisted.

“The European Parliament that hosts and invites Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled who receives applauses from my colleagues, this is not my Europe.”

Turning to the next European elections in May 2019, he warned against the rise of populist antisemitic parties. “We need to help the traditional parties to resist the advance of these neo-Nazis,” he said. “What is at stake is the future of democracy in Europe.”

The ELNET conference saw several senior European, Israeli and American experts discuss ongoing policy issues affecting the Europe-Israel relations.

“We are promoting a strategic dialogue, a high-level political relation and an influential communication,” Arié Bensemhoun, executive director of ELNET France, the organizer of the conference, told European Jewish Press.

“We are an organization that tries to educate political leaders to better understand the political situation in the Middle East, to better understand Israel in order to change the parameters and reinforce the ties between Europe and Israel,” he said.