OpinionJewish Diaspora

The Jewish community of Porto will sue the European Jewish Congress

The European Jewish Congress refuses to acknowledge the campaign of antisemitism directed against Portugal's strongest Jewish community.

Yom Kippur services at Oporto’s Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue, Sept. 24, 2023. Credits: CIP/CJP.
Yom Kippur services at Oporto’s Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue, Sept. 24, 2023. Credits: CIP/CJP.
Gabriel Senderowicz
Gabriel Senderowicz is president of the Oporto Jewish Community.

The title of this article may seem surprising. A European Jewish community, defined by The European Jewish Press as the strongest Jewish organization in the world in cultural terms, threatens to sue the European Jewish Congress if it does not receive a retraction.

The story behind this is bizarre. It involves the recently appointed President of the European Council António Costa and I will try to tell it briefly in this article.

A few days ago, the Jewish Community of Porto published the book The Plan!: Jewish Life Threatened in Europe for free on Amazon, which should be read by all those who don’t know or have forgotten Soviet-inspired political antisemitism. This antisemitism involves acknowledging and even praising weak Jewish communities while totally destroying strong ones.

The strong are attacked in a simple way: The press is used to destroy the reputation of target institutions and then unjust police actions are taken against them. A JNS article by Vivian Groisman describes this phenomenon quite well.

The story outlined in The Plan! involves government and media corruption; as well as an organized propaganda campaign. This campaign sought to unite Portuguese institutions to promote hatred and discrimination against the Jewish community of Oporto. Also targeted was legislation that restored the right of citizenship to Jews of Portuguese origin.

The persecution involved thieves, saboteurs and other criminal elements. It resulted in tens of thousands of hateful messages directed against the Oporto Jewish community. Jewish landlords were slandered at a demonstration for better housing. Their names and businesses were published in the newspapers. Vandalism was committed against Jewish buildings.

The Lisbon Jewish community is smaller in numerical, religious and cultural terms than that of Oporto. It was supported by the government during the attempt to destroy the Porto community and the citizenship law. This week, it issued a statement denying that former Prime Minister António Costa engaged in any type of antisemitism. It did so without even having read The Plan! Worse, the Lisbon community claimed that Costa’s government only decided to change the citizenship law due to reports that it was being abused. This is completely false.

The European Jewish Congress, with which the Lisbon community is affiliated, also came to Costa’s defense. It repeated the same falsehoods, deceiving the always very divided Jewish media.

This is a serious problem. EJC is not a small institution; it is one of the most prominent representatives of the Jewish communities of Europe, though it tends to affiliate with relatively weak communities.

Thus, EJC’s claims could potentially harm the entire Jewish world.

The Jewish community of Porto has called on the EJC to retract its claims or be sued for defamation. The community stated:

The arguments that EJC has proffered are patently false and only underline the irresponsibility to the wider Jewish world of its statement. ⁠False stories regarding alleged abuses of the community began to be published in December 2021, a year and a half following illegal, defamatory and ultimately antisemitic parliamentary actions, such as comparing the reproduction of the Sephardim to the reproduction of the coronavirus. ⁠These false stories about alleged abuses by the Jewish Community of Porto began to be published at the same month in which the Jewish Community of Porto rejected a government regulation project as being unconstitutional. ⁠In addition, the alleged abuses that led to the invasion of the largest synagogue in the country were aimed at a multimillionaire whose origins were certified by the Lisbon Community (and rightly so).

The Jewish world today faces many challenges. One of them is the inadequacy of international Jewish institutions. We must analyze and understand the causes of the inferior performance of many international Jewish organizations, which are reluctant to “make waves” because they answer not to the Jewish community but to their friends and benefactors who have agendas completely unrelated to Jewish interests.

All the assets of the Jewish community in Porto were bequeathed to the Jewish Agency in 2020. In this contrast, we see the decadence of Jewish institutions and its effects on the future of the Jews.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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