This week saw the launch of a major new report on the growth of antisemitism in Europe. The report was launched at the European Jewish Leaders Conference by the European Jewish Association (EJA) and the Action and Protection League (APL). The report, entitled “Anti-Semitic Prejudices in Europe” consists of a survey in which 1000 participants from 16 European countries with significant Jewish populations were asked to agree or disagree with 70 statements, including:
- “The interests of Jews in this country differ from the interests of others” (45% “strongly” or “tend to” agree in Greece, 39% in Poland, 23% in Germany);
- “There is a secret Jewish network that influences political and economic affairs in the world” (56% “strongly” or “tend to” agree in Greece, 30% in Austria, 28% in France); and
- “When I think of Israel’s politics, I understand why some people hate the Jews” (37% “strongly” or “tend to” agree in Austria and France, 29% in Poland, and 25% in Germany and Sweden).
Speaking to the conference remotely from Jerusalem Isaac Herzog, , the President of Israel, said, “Europe faces an unprecedented challenge with the coronavirus. At the same time the plague of antisemitism continues to spread on the street and online. We continue to see threats to Jewish religious and cultural life in Europe including calls, legislations and judgments that support a ban on Jewish circumcision and productions of kosher meat. I urge all of you to use all of the tools at your disposal to ensure that European Jews can live an open, free and secure Jewish life.”
Re-affirming the European Union’s commitment to combatting antisemitism, European Commissioner for Promoting our European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas said, “Last week I was proud to present the EU’s first strategy on combatting antisemitism and fostering Jewish life. We will prevent all types of antisemitism including Israel related antisemitism which is the most common form, using all the tools at our disposal. We know that Europe can only prosper when it’s Jewish communities can prosper too.”
EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin also remarked, “Antisemitism is deeply ingrained in Europe, and hard to treat. Our conference represents the firing of a starting gun on a stalled race against this old virus. We have much, much more to do at a continental political level. Our plan to kickstart this process again involves the adoption of our ‘ten commandments’ to fight antisemitism.”
The conference also saw the publication of a ten-point plan for combatting antisemitism. The “‘Ten Commandments’ for fighting antisemitism” have been designed to reduce and eliminate antisemitism in Europe, and include calls to:
- Promote educational initiatives on national curriculums underlining that antisemitism has no place in a modern and tolerant Europe;
- Allocate EU and Member State funds for the maintenance and support of Jewish educational facilities and places of learning;
- Support security for Jewish institutions and buildings, and to increase this support at times of heightened tensions;
- Make EU funding conditional on commitment to fighting racism, antisemitism and discrimination;
- Expose NGOs or other associated groups that promote, support or tolerate antisemitism.
Rabbi Margolin announced that the survey and the ‘Ten Commandments’ will now be taken forward by parliamentary working groups with a view to enacting national and European legislation to combat antisemitism.
Reporting by Killian Foley-Walsh.