STRASBOURG—Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz addressed the issue of the fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism during a speech reviewing his country’s six-month presidency of the European Union.
Addressing the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Kurz said : ‘’Finally, it is important for me personally to address an issue which is crucial to us as Republic of Austria, namely the fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.’’
He recalled that he convened in November the first European conference on the fight against anti-Semitism together with all European Jewish communities.
‘’I believe that we have now set the course for future activities in this regard,’’ he added, thanking the European Commission and the EU Council for their support.
‘’I think this is important because we have a situation in which Jews feel unsafe in some countries of the European Union. As European Union, we should not simply acknowledge that but rather we should tackling it determinedly.’’
Durinng the high-level conference on the fight against antisemitism in Vienna, detailed proposals and recommendations for combating antisemitism in Europe were presented.
“Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are getting blurred, but they are two sides of the same coin,” Kurz said during his address to the conference.“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.”
The recommendations, which it is hoped will be adopted by the EU and by national governments, include adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism; the appointment by EU countries of a special commissioner for combating antisemitism; a commitment of a percentage of GDP annually to fighting antisemitism; barring antisemites from political parties and public office; committing financial and other resources to guaranteeing security for Jewish communities in Europe; making Internet companies liable for antisemitic content on their platforms; and advising companies not to do business with countries or organizations that support antisemitism in any way.
Kurz said that he hoped that the definition of antisemitism and the conclusions presented at the conference will ensure Jewish safety in Austria, Europe and beyond.
Following Austria’s initiative, the European Council of Justice and Interior Ministers approved in December the first EU declaration on the fight against antisemitism and the development of a common security approach to better protect Jewish communities and institutions in Europe.
In its declaration, the Council acknowledges that Jewish communities in some EU countries feel particularly vulnerable to terrorist attacks, following an increase in violent incidents in recent years. It notes that anti-Semitic hatred remains widespread, as confirmed by the 2018 Fundamental Rights Agency report on antisemitism.
The declaration invites member states to adopt and implement a holistic strategy to prevent and fight all forms of antisemitism, as part of their strategies on preventing racism, xenophobia, radicalisation and violent extremism. It calls on member states to increase their efforts to ensure security for Jewish communities, institutions and citizens.