Tuesday, 19 Jan 2021 - 6 of Shevat, 5781

The EU adopts a declaration to mainstream the prevention and countering of antisemitism in all its forms

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EU calls antisemitism “incompatible” with values and demands national strategies from member states

The declaration makes the fight against antisemitism a priority of Europe’s executive branch.

‘’It is our permanent, shared responsibility to actively protect and support Jewish life,’’ the declaration states.

‘’Ensuring the security of Jewish communities and institutions need to be given utmost priority in all member states’’

 World Jewish Congress applauded the declaration as a “significant step forward to make Europe a better place for Jews”

The European Summit of heads of state and government is expected to formally adopt the declaration at its December 10-11 meeting.

The Council of the European Union on Wednesday adopted a declaration to mainstream the prevention and countering of antisemitism in all its forms. The European Summit of heads of state and government is expected to formally adopt the declaration at its December 10-11 meeting.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC), which has been instrumental in years of conversations with European government authorities and institutions to urge the EU to take leadership on this issue and work toward this success which the organization, applauded the Council’s move to universalize fight against antisemitism as a “significant step forward to make Europe a better place for Jews”

The critical step comes under the leadership of the German presidency of the Council, which is comprised of government ministers from the 27 EU Member States.

The ministers have the authority to commit their governments to the actions agreed upon by the Council, the main decision-making body of the EU.

The adopted declaration makes the fight against antisemitism a priority of Europe’s executive branch. It calls antisemitism “an attack on European values. ‘’“Any form of antisemitism, intolerance or racist hatred is incompatible with the values and aims of the European Union and its Member States and must be addressed through decisive action at European and national level,” reads the text obtained by European Jewish Press.

The declaration states: ‘’Judaism and Jewish life have contributed considerably to shaping European identity and enriching Europe’s cultural, intellectual and religious heritage. We are grateful that 75 years after the Holocaust, Jewish life, in all its diversity, is deeply rooted and thriving again in Europe. It is our permanent, shared responsibility to actively protect and support Jewish life.’’

It acknowledges the increasing prevalence of various forms of antisemitism in Europe, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘’The increase in threats  to Jewish persons in Europe including the resurgence of conspirary myths, public expressions of antisemitism, and an increase of antisemitic incidents and hate crimes is  a cause of great concern,” the declaration said.

Ensuring the security of Jewish communities and institutions need to be given utmost priority in all member states which must ‘’engage in continuous dialogue with the Jewish community with a view to ensuring appropriate levels of security awareness, specific training for security staff and law enforcement officers, exchange of best practices and thorough implementation of appropriate measures to ensure the security of Jewish institutions.”

Regarding the growth of antisemitic hate speech, particularly its dissemination online, “crimes committed online should be punished just as crimes offline are and must be adequately addressed by means of effective prosecution and other measures,” the declaration reads.

“Illegal hate speech and terrorist content online must be removed promptly and consistently by internet service providers, in according with the relevant legal and non-legal framework.”

The declaration also calls for the systematic collection of data on antisemitic incidents so as to “develop, implement and monitor progress on tailored comprehensive strategies and education instruments,” and for increased Holocaust education as “one of the most important tools to prevent antisemitic prejudices.”

Welcoming the new declaration, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder declared: “Europe has a serious and terrifying antisemitism problem, and it’s high time that the European Union, its Member States and local authorities direct real resources to it.’’

‘’The adoption of this declaration by the Council of the European Union demonstrates that Germany in its Council presidency and the EU leadership as a whole recognize the danger that antisemitism and hate create and the threat to society and safety when left unaddressed.’’

Lauder said the responsibility now falls on member states to apply the policies laid out by the EU in each of their countries, ‘’to ensure that the scourge of antisemitism is dealt with, that perpetrators are prosecuted to the greatest extent of the law, and that our next generation learns that hatred is unacceptable.”

The EU declaration comes two years after the Council of the European Union’s December 6, 2018, declaration, under the leadership of the Austrian presidency of the Council, on the fight against antisemitism and the development of a common security approach to protect Jewish communities and institutions in Europe.

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