VIENNA—As anti‑Semitism and anti‑Zionism continue to plague parts of contemporary Europe in manifest forms, threatening the fabric of Jewish life in EU countries, Austria, the country which currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union, will present a proposal for the next EU Council conclusions on the EU’s commitment to the security of Jewish communities and institutions.
“Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are getting blurred but they are two sides of the same coin.” Chancellor Kurz said in his address Wednesday to a high level conference ‘’Europe beyond anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism’’ held in Vienna by the Austrian Presidency of the European Council.
“As Austrians, we have to be honest when we look back at our past as Austria was not only a victim but also a perpetrator, but we must also look ahead to the future. We can’t undo history but we can do justice to our history,” he said.
“I hope the definition of antisemitism and the conclusions presented at this conference, will ensure that Jews are able to live safely in Austria, Europe and elsewhere, and that it the only way we can live up to our Presidency of the European Council.” Kurz concluded.
Austria convened the conference as this year the country marks 80 years since the Anschluss and it has a special histortical responsibility for combatting anti‑Semitism in Europe. ‘’A Europe free of anti‑Semitism and anti‑Zionism is not only the cornerstone of a secure and vibrant Jewish future on our continent, but also a guarantee for a peaceful and prosperous European future,’’ it said.
Among the recommendations to combat antisemitism presented at the conference to high-level European officials, are the following:
The adoption and implementation of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism by all countries, institutions and businesses;
Governments and intergovernmental organizations should condemn the blatant state-sanctioned antisemitism that exist in a number of countries, such as Iran;
All countries should appoint an envoy for combatting antisemitism;
Every country should commit to a percentage of its GDP, annually, to fund the fight against antisemitism;
Creating new legal frameworks to combat antisemitism effectively and strengthening existing ones;
People who express or hold antisemitic views should not be allowed to be members of political parties or occupy a position of power;
Companies should be advise not to do business with countries or organizations that support antisemitism in any way;
Governments should commit financial and operational resources to ensure the security of Jewish communities;
Internet companies should be liable for antisemitic content on their platforms.
At a gala dinner on Tuesday, European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor awarded the ‘Navigator of Jerusalem’ Prize to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz for his commitment to the issues of antisemitism and Jewish security and for ensuring these are among the priorities of his leadership.
“Chancellor Kurz did not shy away from historical truth, and has proven to be a person of principles, vision and a true friend of the Jewish people.” Kantor said.
“We are delighted that Austria-Israel relations are blossoming today under the Chancellor’s leadership, especially when he declared that Israel’s security is a raison d’être for Austria. For these reasons, we are presenting the European Jewish Congress’ Navigator to Jerusalem Award.”
In a video message to the conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Chancellor Kurz Chancellor Kurz ‘’for taking such a strong moral stand against antisemitism.’’ ‘’Sebastian, you are a true friend of Israel, a true friend of the Jewish people. You have been unyielding in your efforts to recognize history, to defend the truth and to combat antisemitism in Austria and throughout Europe,’’ he said.
He added : ‘’We must all join hands to combat traditional and modern forms of antisemitism. The first step to combat antisemitism is to define it. The Israeli government, along with seven other European governments, including Austria, has adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism. I urge all countries to adopt this definition and to increase their efforts to combat antisemitism and its modern manifestation, anti-Zionism. There is only one remedy for slander, and that is the truth.’’