Jewish group accuses Swiss of anti-Israel "bias"

Alfred Donath says Jews no longer feel safe in Switzerland Keystone Archive

The head of a major Swiss Jewish group has launched a scathing attack on Switzerland's "one-sided" handling of the Middle East conflict.

This content was published on May 8, 2002 - 20:44

Alfred Donath, president of the Federation of Swiss-Israeli Communities, on Wednesday accused the Swiss Foreign Ministry of wearing pro-Palestinian "blinkers".

In a fiercely blunt speech, Donath also said the Government's stance was encouraging anti-Semitism and making Swiss Jews fearful for their safety.

"In Switzerland, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is being portrayed in a one-sided manner," Donath told a federation meeting in Montreux.

Including the Swiss media in his criticism, Donath said the ministry's failure to maintain balance came at a time when Israel was under threat.

"Israel finds itself in the position of weakness against the most terrible terror that targets innocents," Donath said.

Most concerning, he said, was that Switzerland has only paid "lip service" against the bloody terror attacks by Palestinians, yet issued a series of reproaches against Israel.

Jews "don't feel safe" in Switzerland

"But above all, what the ministry is doing, is contributing to an unhealthy anti-Semitic tendency."

Donath said Swiss authorities would have to take responsibility if anti-Semitic forces crossed into Switzerland.

"The threats have now become direct, even if they are often hidden behind a cowardly anonymity, " he said.

"The Jews do not feel safe in Switzerland any more".

The criticism has been interpreted as snub against the Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss.

Donath says the ministry's bias stems from an obsession with the idea that Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories are illegal.

Appeal for help

Donath also used his speech to urge Jews in Switzerland not forget their ties to Israel.

"Should we not win the fight for Israel, and if we don't overwhelm the anti-Semitism that is spreading in Europe, then our own position in the Diaspora will become untenable."

swissinfo with agencies

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