Amid Jerusalem ban on EU contact, Israel attends Brussels seminar on anti-Semitism

Non-diplomatic discussions with the EU, however, are continuing, with the Brussels seminar a case in point.

A man wears a kippa.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
A man wears a kippa.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Although Israel has suspended talks with EU officials on the diplomatic process, senior foreign ministry officials participated in Brussels on Wednesday with EU representatives in the ninth annual symposium on anti-Semitism.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed the Foreign Ministry last month to suspend talks with the EU on the Palestinian track because of its decision to label settlement products. Non-diplomatic discussions with the EU, however, are continuing, with the Brussels seminar a case in point.
The head of the Foreign Ministry’s public diplomacy division, Yuval Rotem, led Israel’s delegation to the two-day talks, which will focus on the battle against anti-semitism, racism and incitement on social media, and on providing security for Europe’s Jews amid persistent anti-Semitism there.
This topic, according to a Foreign Ministry statement, is “unfortunately on the agenda because of threat to the Jewish community by terrorist forces in Europe.”
Rotem said that the level of anti-Semitism in Europe continues to be high, and the number of anti-Semitic incidents has risen over the last few years. “Comprehensive and fundamental action is needed by the EU and the European states to deal with this,” he said before the seminar.
This is the ninth consecutive year this seminar has been held, alternating each year between Brussels and Jerusalem.
The EU delegation is to be headed by Vera Jourova, from the Czech Republic, who is the European commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. Former Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans, today the first vice president of the European Commission, will also take part in the discussions.
After a year of lobbying efforts by Jewish organizations, the European Commission earlier this month appointed an official to act as its authorized coordinator on combating anti-Semitism.
Both the European Jewish Congress and the Belgian Jewish community, whose chief Rabbi Avraham Gigi recently announced that he sees no future for Jews on the continent, were at the forefront of pushing for the creation of a position analogous to that of the American State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

Sam Sokol contributed to this report.