President-elect Donald Trump’s victory marks the beginning of a new world order, and rabbinical leaders across Europe are concerned about how this will impact their continent and its Jewish population, Conference of European Rabbis (CER) president Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said Tuesday.
As the biannual CER Standing Committee gathered for the second day in Minsk, Goldschmidt, who is also the chief rabbi of Moscow, told The Jerusalem Post that he believes US influence over its allies and other countries in the world is going to be greatly diminished under Trump’s leadership. Citing controversial comments made by Trump about NATO, including that countries that want US protection must pay accordingly, Goldschmidt predicts that the US will cease to behave as a superpower.
Turning to Europe, Goldschmidt said that populist parties across the continent have been strengthened by the success of populism in the US.
But he warned that there is a significant difference between Trump and his Republican Party, and the Freedom Party of Austria or Marine Le Pen’s National Front Party in France, which he describes as “the most extreme right-wing parties which have been founded by Nazi collaborators and pro-Nazi sympathizers.
“What we see right now is a revolution happening in the world,” Goldschmidt says.
“Europe has been weakened with Brexit and we fear now that with new winds blowing from the US, Europe is going to change as well. And not for the better.”
The CER, which comprises more than 700 Jewish religious leaders across Europe, is bracing for a tougher battle over efforts to ban elements of Jewish religious practice. Having already spent the past 10 years fending off attacks against shechita (kosher slaughter) and brit mila (circumcision), the CER’s stated aim is to maintain and defend the religious rights of Jews in Europe.
“The CER’s mission to protect the freedoms of the Jews here,” Goldschmidt states, noting that the body of rabbis if reaching out to both Jews and non-Jews, and building coalitions across the board in its work to counter potential restrictions on Jewish life.