EU presented with ‘first-ever’ action plan to combat antisemitism

In November, CNN released a poll, which found that one in five Europeans said Jews have too much influence in the media and too much influence in politics.

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February 20, 2019 05:22
A gathering against anantisemitism in France in 2018.(REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

A gathering against anantisemitism in France in 2018. (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes). (photo credit: REUTERS/GONZALO FUENTES)

 
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The European Jewish Congress has called on EU member states to adopt in full the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism as part of a joint action plan to combat antisemitism.

As a steep rise antisemitism continues to plague the Europe, the EJC – together with the American Jewish Committee’s Transatlantic Institute and B’nai B’rith International – have presented a first-ever action plan to combat antisemitism to the Council of the European Union and the EU’s Coordinator on combating antisemitism, Katharina von Schnurbein.

This comes after the Council Declaration of December 6 on the fight against antisemitism and the development of a common security approach to better protect Jewish communities and institutions in Europe.

In November, CNN released a poll, which found that antisemitism was alive and kicking throughout Europe. According to the CNN survey, one in five said Jews have too much influence in the media and too much influence in politics, while more than a quarter of Europeans polled believe Jews have too much influence in business and finance. Seven countries were surveyed, including Austria, Germany, the UK and Poland.

The document makes several recommendations to the EU, which include using the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism “as a reference tool to better grasp all manifestations of contemporary antisemitism,” bettering its assistance to member states “in providing hate crime training to law enforcement,” having closer cooperation with communities on security issues, and creating common guidelines “for countering antisemitism in education that will provide long-term positive effects for Jewish communities in Europe.”

Following the plan announcement, EJC president Dr. Moshe Kantor called the action plan “an excellent and detailed document which we hope the EU Council will adopt in order to make our communities safer and more secure. This is what we, European Jewry, require to reverse the disturbing trend of rapidly and horrifyingly increasing antisemitism across our continent,” exclaiming that this document is “our answer to hate and intolerance against Jews. If there is to be an end to the current deluge of antisemitism then it requires a holistic, strategic and forward-looking response.”

Part of the plan also encourages the European Union to address antisemitism within its Human Rights Dialogues with third countries. “Regular and timely reporting and monitoring of antisemitism in third countries, especially where Jewish communities are under threat,” is needed to “help to increase awareness internally.”

It added that “strengthening the collaboration with Israel and the US in countering antisemitism worldwide” could play a large role, adding that “condemning systematically antisemitic remarks publicly at international forums such as the UN.”

Meanwhile, November’s CNN poll also found that one in 20 Europeans surveyed knew nothing or very little about the Holocaust, especially among those aged between 18 to 34.

Such concerns prompted the action plan to include suggestions that will ensure the EU and its member states properly address Holocaust education and remembrance in the next MFF, and that “support for projects currently funded through the remembrance strand of the Europe for Citizens Programme is increased.”

With Holocaust denial also on the up, the proposal says that “every threat to the remembrance of the Holocaust, such as Holocaust denial and distortion, should be rigorously called out and academic research be encouraged. Implementation of the Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia should be strictly monitored in this particular aspect.”

Kantor explained that as is the case “with all other minorities, the Jewish community should have the right to define hatred against it and assist in addressing ways to end discrimination at all levels and in all manner of new and manifold methods.”

“If our leaders are serious about combating antisemitism then we cannot allow any gaps or loopholes for discrimination and exclusion,” he said, adding that “the battle against hate and intolerance needs to take place in the political, educational, legal, law enforcement, judicial and diplomatic arenas.”

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