Sending Office: Honorable Carolyn B. Maloney
Sent By:
Lucas.Siegmund@mail.house.gov

Urge Swiss Ambassador to Protect

Jewish Institutions in Switzerland

 

Current Co-Signers: Maloney, Roskam, Cohen, Rosen, McGovern, Schakowsky, Raskin

Dear Colleague,

Please join us in sending a letter to the Swiss Ambassador expressing our concern about the Swiss government’s refusal to provide security to the Jewish community in Switzerland and urging that it reconsider such action. Especially in light of a growing
threat of antisemitism across Europe and around the world, Jewish communities require increased security for their most vulnerable institutions.

By contrast, most Western European nations have taken steps against this growing threat. In France, the government spends millions of euros each year to protect Jewish institutions. Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Britain and many other
countries dedicate similar funding levels to protect their Jewish communities.

Unfortunately, the Swiss government has recommended ending government funding to protect vulnerable Jewish institutions. In November 2016, the Swiss Interior Ministry published
a report
 acknowledging the need for increased security at Jewish institutions. Its recommendation, however, is that Jewish organizations create a foundation and fundraise within their own community to finance their security costs. Such a financial burden
is unreasonable and would threaten the financial viability of most Jewish communities in Switzerland.

The Jewish people have a long history of persecution, and continue to face serious threats today. The Swiss government is obligated to protect all its citizens, and must join other Western European nations in providing security to vulnerable Jewish institutions.

To sign on to the letter or if you have any questions, please have your staff contact Lucas Siegmund at Lucas.Siegmund@mail.house.gov with Congresswoman Maloney or Omri Rahmil at Omri.Rahmil@mail.house.gov with
Congressman Roskam.

 

Sincerely,

Carolyn B. Maloney                            Peter Roskam
Member of Congress                           Member of Congress

 

 

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

We write to express our deep concern about the Swiss government’s announcement regarding security of the Jewish community in Switzerland. We were disappointed to read reports that in spite of a growing threat of antisemitism across Europe and around the
world, the Swiss government has refused to contribute government funding to protect vulnerable Jewish institutions. In November 2016, in fact, the Swiss Interior Ministry published a report acknowledging the need for increased security at Jewish institutions.
Instead, the Interior Ministry’s report recommended Jewish organizations create a foundation and fundraise within their own community to finance their security costs. In the interest of fulfilling government’s obligation to protect all of its citizens, we
respectfully urge you to reconsider this recommendation and provide government funding for security of Jewish neighborhoods and community centers.

The security of the Jewish population is an international concern. As a threatened minority, the Jewish people are constantly targeted by anti-Semitic and terrorist organizations around the world. Switzerland, as a signatory of the Convention of the Council
of Europe on the Protection of National Minorities, the United Nations Universal Charter for Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the European Charter of Human Rights, is obligated to protect national minority groups
under threat, including its Jewish citizens. The Swiss Constitution explicitly states, “The Swiss Confederation shall protect the liberty and rights of the people and safeguard the independence and security of the country.”

In addition, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has designated Jewish security as an international priority. In its practical guide, Understanding Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes and Addressing the Security Needs of Jewish Communities, OSCE
recommends governments take action to “improve protection for Jewish communities and sites, including through enhanced police patrols and providing financial assistance”.

Since the Interior Ministry published its report last year, both the international Jewish community and the Jewish community in Switzerland have raised serious concerns about the insinuation that it is the responsibility of Jewish citizens, and not their
government, to provide security to targeted institutions. Such a financial burden would threaten the financial viability of most Jewish communities in Switzerland.

For example, as one Swiss scholar has reported, the Basel Jewish community, consisting of only 960 people, had to raise about 800,000 francs in 2017 for security measures deemed necessary by the state. The aging and shrinking community already has a yearly
deficit of about half a million francs. Future security measures are expected to cost an additional 200,000 to 300,000 francs each year. Without assistance from the Swiss government, the Jewish people in Basel, and others like them around the country, cannot
possibly afford the security they need.

Switzerland has proven it is capable of implementing the rapid security response required to protect its Jewish institutions. Following the attack on the Basel Christmas market in December 2016, Swiss authorities increased security and police presence at
the high profile target. Similar measures were taken as a precaution at the Christmas markets in Zurich and other cities around the country. It is unacceptable that the same efforts have not been made to increase security for Jewish institutions in need of
protection.

The Swiss are currently an anomaly amongst Western European nations when it comes to security for Jewish institutions.  In France, the government spends millions of euros each year to protect Jewish institutions. Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands,
Britain and most other Western European countries dedicate similar funding levels to protect their Jewish communities.

The Jewish people have a long history of persecution, and continue to face serious threats today. The Swiss government is obligated to protect all its citizens, and must join other Western European nations in providing security to vulnerable Jewish institutions.
Surely the nation that can host world forums in Davos and Geneva can protect its Jewish citizens in Basel. We request that you seriously consider these concerns, and take immediate action to protect the Jewish people in Switzerland.

 

Sincerely,

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Civil Rights, Foreign Affairs

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