EU adopts measures against antisemitism, World Jewish congress cheers

Lauder and Kantor thanks Sebastian Kurz for initiative

December 6, 2018 14:01
4 minute read.
Austria's Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz visits Yad Vashem's Holocaust History Museum

Austria's Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz looks at pictures of Jews killed in the Holocaust during his visit to the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem's Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem April 22, 2014. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)


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A declaration approved Thursday by the Council of the European Union calls on EU member states to take steps to ensure security for Jewish communities, institutions and citizens.

The declaration, agreed on by interior ministers from the 28 EU member states, emphasizes the importance of Holocaust commemoration and education; calls on all EU member states which have not already done so to endorse the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism in the fields of law enforcement, education and training; and calls on the European Commission and Europol to pay particular attention to online antisemitism and to content advocating antisemitic terrorist offenses.

The declaration was put on the agenda and promoted by Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz,whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Council.

Vice president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, a member of the Dutch Labour Party, said that the declaration would lead to development of  a common security approach to better protect Jewish communities and institutions.

“In times of growing antisemitic hatred, the unanimous adoption of the declaration on the fight against antisemitism by the 28 EU member states sends an important signal to the Jewish community; the EU and each of its member states stand by their side to guarantee their safety and well-being. We will combine our efforts at the European and national level to ensure that Jewish Europeans can build a common future for themselves and their children in Europe, together with all Europeans,” he said in a joint statement issued with European Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova.

“This declaration invites member states and the commission to take concrete steps to better protect the Jewish community in Europe and to continue their fight against antisemitism. We cannot have a common fight without a common definition of what we are fighting against.

Member states are called to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism as a guidance tool, which would be an important step in the fight against antisemitism.”

The World Jewish Congress welcomed the adoption of a declaration, emphasizing that it had worked closely with the Austrian Jewish Community and the European Jewish Congress, in developing the declaration’s content.

“I strongly welcome the decision by the Council of the European Union to adopt this important declaration on the fight against antisemitism and the protection of Jewish communities,” said WJC president Ronald S. Lauder.

“Just days after polling revealed that antisemitism continues to haunt Europe, and with the memory of the Holocaust fading, this declaration is a clear recognition by the governments of all EU member states that serious action, both politically and practically, is needed to deal with the clear and specific challenges posed by this ancient hatred. We look forward to continuing to engage with both the EU institutions and the governments of the EU member states to inform this serious work going forward.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz for the leadership he has shown on this issue – this declaration will serve as an important point of reference in the years to come. I hope that the European Council will now also appoint a coordinator on combating antisemitism, to follow up on this important first step. Jewish citizens of Europe have the right to the same sense of security and well-being as any other European citizens.”

The European Jewish Congress also praised what they called a “historic declaration on the fight against antisemitism.”

“This is an unprecedented declaration, which was one of the priorities of the Austrian presidency.

 The EJC is very proud of its contribution, both from the EJC office and from its affiliated Jewish communities across the EU, working closely and actively with all of the stakeholders and decision makers involved in this to ensure that this historic opportunity came to fruition,” said EJC president Dr. Moshe Kantor.

“This declaration is an important step in the fight against antisemitism because it provides a positive and concrete roadmap for the safeguarding of Jewish communities and strengthens the legislative tools for governments to fight hate and intolerance.

Now we hope that each EU member state will take the required and appropriate action, and that the European Commission and the European Parliament will monitor the progress made by each state against antisemitism.”

“We would like to thank Chancellor Kurz, with whom we have worked closely in the last few months, and all the European leaders and officials who assisted with this vital process,” Kantor continued.

“One of the most urgent calls for action in the declaration, is to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism to assist law enforcement agencies in their efforts to identify and investigate more efficiently antisemitic manifestations in all their forms.”

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