(JTA) — Government officials in Cyprus billed the local Jewish community more than $6,000 for security costs during Hanukkah celebrations, angering one prominent European Jewish leader who called it a “new low” and an “insult.”
The Dec. 4 bill was sent to the Cypriot Jewish Community last week in connection with its candle-lighting ceremonies, the Brussels-based European Jewish Association revealed.
Not all member states of the European Union, to which Cyprus belongs, shoulder all the security costs for Jewish communities and other faith groups. But they very rarely bill religious minorities for providing them with security designed to ensure free worship.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the head of the European Jewish Association, along with calling the move a “new low” and an “insult,” said it was a “deep embarrassment” for the European Union in a letter he sent this week to Cypriot Defense Minister Savvas Angelides.
“I ask you respectfully to immediately write off the bill, and re-assure the Jewish community in Cyprus, that they will be afforded the same security and protection afforded to their brothers and sisters elsewhere in Europe, and provided for by Member states governments, without charges, fees or invoices following Jewish events and holidays,” Margolin wrote.
On Dec. 6, the Council of the European Union passed a declaration against anti-Semitism that among other things “invites the member states to provide for the financing and implement the necessary security measures of Jewish communities, institutions and citizens.”