Dear Friend of Israel,
“Europe is lost.” This startling statement came from Rabbi Meir Bar-Hen, the chief rabbi of Barcelona, Spain, where last week two Islamist terror attacks, including a deadly vehicle-ramming, killed 15 people and injured more than 100.
It is a provocative statement, but it’s based on an obvious fact: Radical Islamists have waged war on Europe for years. This year alone, there have been attacks in London, Manchester, Stockholm, Paris, Hamburg, and elsewhere on the continent. Terrorists have caused much death and injury in Europe, and done a lot to undermine Europeans’ sense of security and shatter their confidence.
Europe’s survival comes down to a philosophical question: Do Europeans have the will to take their foes seriously and fight to defend their civilization? But Jews in Spain and throughout Europe face a simple, practical question: Are they safe where they live? As increased requests to The Fellowship for aliyah (immigration to Israel) assistance flow in, we are seeing that many do not feel that they are. Jews were not specifically targeted in the attacks in Spain, but, sadly, they are traditionally favored targets for Islamist hatred.
Last week’s horrific mass murder in Spain, and others like it across Europe, underscores the critical need for The Fellowship and our supporters to continue to do whatever we can to support aliyah, as well as to help defend Jewish communities around the world. We have always taken this responsibility seriously, and will continue to do so – especially this year, which marks the 25th anniversary of our On Wings of Eagles program that brings Jews to Israel to escape poverty, anti-Semitism, and violence.
We will be there every step of the way to help those Jews who are threatened by terrorism and wish to start new lives in their biblical homeland, and to protect those who choose to stay where they are. I am so grateful that, whatever their choice, these Jews are not alone – they have millions of Fellowship friends around the world who stand with them.
Whether Rabbi Bar-Hen’s pronouncement is true remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: Confronting the scourge of Islamist terror will require our courage and resolve. May God grant us, and the leaders of all free nations, the wisdom and the will to do what we must do to defend the values of democracy and personal liberty. And may He comfort the loved ones of all who lost their lives in last week’s terrible attack – and grant the Jews of Spain, and all of us, His most precious gift of shalom, peace.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President