In an era marked by a disturbing rise in antisemitism worldwide, the Czech Republic stands as a hope of relative stability and safety for the Jewish community. This commitment to Jewish safety and support is not a newfound stance but rather a continuation of the Czech Republic’s historical legacy.
The Czech Republic has a long and proud history of supporting Israel. Czechoslovakia was among the first countries to recognize the State of Israel in 1948 and played a key role in Israel’s victory in the Arab-Israeli War by selling Israel 25 Avia S-199 fighter aircraft. These aircraft were essential in helping Israel to defend itself against its Arab neighbors.
The Czech Republic’s unwavering support for Israel has also played a crucial role in fostering a sense of security among the Jewish population. Following the unprecedented attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7th , the Czech government firmly upheld Israel’s right to self-defense, sending a clear message of solidarity and support.
While the rise of antisemitism has undoubtedly been evident since the attack, particularly in online spaces, the current Czech government has taken proactive measures to address these issues, including bolstering security for Jewish institutions, actively supporting Israel in international forums, and engaging in meaningful dialogue with the Jewish and Israeli communities. During a pro-Israeli rally, the Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) made a significant declaration that the Czech Republic would not only express support Israel through words, but also act as Israel’s voice in Europe, ensuring that this support is echoed on an international stage.
Public support for Israel is evident within Europe and beyond. For example, according to an analysis by Courtesy the European Coalition for Israel of how often EU Parliament parties vote in favor of Israel, the Czech Republic ranks third with 59.16%, behind Italy, where support is 59.53%, and Bulgaria, 59.31%. The political party that voted most in favor of Israel in the Czech Republic is the Občanská demokratická strana (ODS), which voted in support of Israel in 97.69% of cases. Only the German Zentrumspartei scored higher, with an even 100% support.
There have been numerous demonstrations in cities across the country expressing solidarity with the over 250 individuals captured and held hostage in Gaza and the more than 1,200 lives claimed by Hamas since the onset of the war. Protests in support of Israel have continued in the Czech Republic for the sixth week in a row and have been largely peaceful, but there have been some tense moments between protesters and counter-protesters. In order to prevent violence, the police deployed a large contingent of officers, including riot police, plainclothes officers, and conflict resolution teams.
As the Middle East navigates the complexities of the current situation, the Czech Republic’s continued support for Israel remains a pillar of stability and friendship between the two nations.