A prominent politician warned of growing anti-Semitism in Europe and called on national and European authorities to implement effective and mandatory measures to combat xenophobia and racism.
Antonio Lopez-Isturiz, who is the Secretary General of the European People’s Party (EPP), the largest political group in the European Parliament and Chairman of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Israel, made the warning during a conference organized Monday in Paris.
The two-day conference organised by the European Jewish Association (EJA), entitled “The Jews in Europe: United for a Better Future”, stressed antisemitism takes many different forms and is not always easy to identify.
In his address to the annual conference of the European Jewish Association (EJA) on the future of Jews in Europe, the Spanish MEP called for cooperation between local, national and EU authorities in working with Jewish communities and urged the new European Commission to apply clear legislation with follow-up of the results in all Member States.
“In recent years, the EU has adopted a series of measures to fight anti-Semitismc but these have obviously not achieved the expected results. The good news is that the new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has pledged to fight anti-Semitism with new legislation and new policies. Anti-Semitism has for the first time been formally included as part of a Commissioner’s portfolio,’’ he said in a reference to the fact that for the first time European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas has the fight of antisemitism clearly in his attributions.
López-Istúriz also denounced the discourse of radical extremist parties, from both the extreme right and extreme left, which, he sad, are contributing to the propagation of radical positions vis-à-vis Israel and Jews.
He mentioned in particular initiatives like ELAI (Israel Apartheid Free Zones) in the context of the international BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, promoted by the government parties in Spain Unidas Podemos and PSOE in 58 left-wing city halls throughout this country.
“These measures are discriminatory and unconstitutional”, said López-Istúriz. “They are a serious attack on human rights. It is inconceivable that such aggressions come from political representatives whose mandate is to defend and protect all people’s rights and interests.”
“Hate speech and all types of violence against Jewish citizens are incompatible with EU values,” he said. As positive examples, he mentioned the new Jewish Museum being prepared in Madrid as well as the Spanish nationality law for Sephardic Jews passed in 2015.
Antonio Lopez-Isturiz spoke at a panel on combating the delegitimization of Israel as a form of antisemitism, together with two other members of parliaments, one from Austria, Marin Engelberg, and the other from Germany, Frank Muller-Rosentritt.
Engelberg, who is a member of the Conservative Party of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and the first active member of the Vienna Jewish community elected in the Austrian parliament since WWII, declared to be ‘’extremely satisfied’’ by the Austrian government being at the forefront of the fight against antisemitism and anti-Zionism in Europe and being such a close friend and supporter of Israel. Engelberg will accompany Chancellor Kurz to the US where he is due to meet President Donald Trump and address the AIPAC conference next week.
Engelberg announced that the Austrian parliament is about to pass unanimously a very sharp resolution against the BDS movement, which asks the Austrian government not to provide premises and infrastructure, and not to support events of that movement neither financially nor in any other form. “The wording of the motion is very strong and it is particularly significant that it will be passed with the votes of all political parties represented in the parliament,’’ he noted.
Such a bill calling BDS as antisemitic was already voted by the German Bundestag last year. Frank Muller-Rosentall, the bill co-sponsor, has also called for Germany as well as the EU to ban Hezbollah, the Lebanese shiite group, in full as a terror group without making a difference between the group’s ‘’political’’ and ‘’military wings.