Council of EU declares antisemitism an attack on European values, calls for strategies from EU countries

After years of working with the leadership of the European Union on codifying measures to fight antisemitism at the European, member state and local levels, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) applauds the Council of the EU’s adoption on December 2 of a declaration to mainstream the prevention and countering of antisemitism in all its forms, the WJC said.

This critical step comes under the leadership of the German presidency of the Council, the WJC statement said. The declaration makes the fight against antisemitism a priority of Europe’s executive branch.

As part of its ongoing work to combat antisemitism, the WJC has for years worked closely with European government authorities and institutions, as well as Jewish communities across the continent, to emphasise the importance of EU leadership in this area, resulting in the development of the declaration.

WJC President Ronald S. Lauder welcomed the declaration: “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.

“This declaration is a significant step forward in making Europe a better place for Jews. The responsibility now falls on member states to apply the policies and understanding laid out by the European Union 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 declaration calls antisemitism “an attack on European values,” reading: “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.”

The declaration affirms that it is member states’ “permanent, shared responsibility to actively protect and support Jewish life.”

It acknowledges the increasing prevalence of antisemitism in Europe, particularly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and that “an increase in antisemitic incidents and hate crime is a cause of great concern.”

The declaration calls on member states to 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.”

The European Council is expected to formally adopt the declaration at its December 10-11 meeting.

(Archive photo: Beny Shlevich)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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