Sunday, 20 Jun 2021 - 10 of Tammuz, 5781

Special envoys to combat anti-Semitism from 22 countries discuss strategies to combat antisemitism, hate

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Katharina von Schnurbein, European Commission Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life, described the European Commission’s first ever strategy on combating antisemitism that is to be adopted later this year.

Special envoys to combat anti-Semitism from 22 countries, representatives from Jewish communities in 45 countries and from 7 international organizations, gathered virtually this week to discuss methods on how to prevent, respond to and educate around antisemitism and hatred.

The International Meeting of Special Envoys and Coordinators Combating Antisemitism (SECCA) was convened as part of the World Jewish Congress 16th Plenary Assembly.

Social media platform TikTok’s Europe director joined the session to discuss its long partnership with the WJC to identify and remove hateful content.

As SECCA co-chair, Katharina von Schnurbein, European Commission Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life, described the European Commission’s first ever strategy on combating antisemitism that is to be adopted later this year.

The three-pillar strategy is focused on: 1) preventing and combating antisemitism through policies and legislation including responding to online hate speech and conspiracy myths; 2) protecting Jewish life and strengthening cooperation among different communities in regards to security measures and the assurance of the freedom of religion; and 3) increasing education on the Holocaust and on Jewish life and culture.

“Frankly, there’s no way to combat antisemitism except through education, education, education, and governments working together to fight it. Also, a great deal of antisemitism comes through the internet, and we must do everything we can to stop this hate from reaching so many young people,” said Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress in addressing the rise in antisemitism.

“In 1945, when people saw the pictures of bodies and what the Nazis did to the Jewish people, nobody wanted to be associated with antisemitism. We thought this virus was finally gone, and for two and a half generations, it was. We are now three generations away, and people do not remember what happened, we are not taught in schools what happened, and therefore it’s a blind spot for many people.

The Council of Europe’s Special Representative on antisemitic, anti-Muslim and other forms of religious intolerance and hate crimes Daniel Höltgen noted while there have been improvements in combating antisemitism and bigotry online, more must be done. “Freedom of expression is one of our most important fundamental human rights, but there are limits, and the limits are there when hate and crimes begin,’’ he said.

Luisa Ragher, Head of the Human Rights Division of the European External Action Service, declared that  Ww will confront antisemitism and we will ensure that ‘never again’ is passed on to the next generations of Europeans.”

Lord Eric Pickles, the United Kingdom’s Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues, praised the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)  definition of antisemitism as a means of addressing antisemitism, explaining that “the fact that the definition is not legally binding is a great strength because it allows easy adoption and it does not require legislation.’’

‘’The fact that it is a working definition makes it stronger. The various examples do not preclude other examples coming on as time progressive. But adoption of the definition is not enough; we must seek ways to practically implement the definition.”

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