image Photo: Reuters

EU to combat rising Anti-Semitism

The European Union (EU)  has presented its first-ever, three-prong plan “to prevent all forms of anti-Semitism; to protect and foster Jewish life; and to promote research, education and Holocaust remembrance.”

By Erin Viner

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid welcomed publication of the European Union’s new strategy against anti-Semitism, saying “This step reflects a commitment not only to the fight against the ugly phenomenon of antisemitism, but also to the security of the Jewish community.”

Lapid, who also serves as Alternative Israeli Prime Minister, said he is looking forward “to strengthening cooperation between Israel and the European Union on this topic.”

The EU’s Executive Branch, the European Commission (EC), unveiled yesterday what it referred to as the first Strategy of its kind given the “persistence and a significant increase of anti-Semitic incidents” in the 27-country bloc “and beyond.”

According to an EC statement, 9 out of 10 European Jews have reported a surge of anti-Semitism in their nations, which an overwhelming majority 85% deem as “a serious problem;” and 38% of whom say they have considered emigration due to feeling unsafe as Jews in the EU.

“The Strategy sets out a series of measures articulated around three pillars: to prevent all forms of anti-Semitism; to protect and foster Jewish life; and to promote research, education and Holocaust remembrance. The Strategy proposes measures to step up cooperation with online companies to curb anti-Semitism online, better protect public spaces and places of worship, set up a European research hub on contemporary anti-Semitism and create a network of sites where the Holocaust happened. These measures will be reinforced by the EU’s international efforts to lead the global fight against anti-Semitism,” read an EC press release.

“Today we commit to fostering Jewish life in Europe in all its diversity. We want to see Jewish life thriving again in the heart of our communities. This is how it should be. The Strategy we are presenting today is a step change in how we respond to anti-Semitism. Europe can only prosper when its Jewish communities feel safe and prosper,” stated EC President Ursula von der Leyen.

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, added: “anti-Semitism is incompatible with EU values and with our European way of life. This strategy – the first of its kind – is our commitment to combat it in all its forms and to ensure a future for Jewish life in Europe and beyond. We owe it to those who perished in the Holocaust, we owe it to the survivors and we owe it to future generations.”

Some of the key measures in the plan includes EU funding and support of Member States to design and implement their own national campaigns, the creation of a Europe-wide network that will remove illegal online hate speech, support for the development of narratives that counter online antisemitic content, cooperation with industry and IT companies to prevent the illegal online display and selling of Nazi-related symbols, memorabilia and literature.

Implementation of the EU Strategy will begin this year and continue until 2030, with the adoption of national strategies by the end of next year and assessment by the EC by end of 2023.

“To ensure that Jews feel safe and can participate fully in European life,” the EC will also provide the EU with €24 million “to better protect public spaces and places of worship,” per the EC statement, adding that it has “encouraged” Member States “to make use of Europol’s support regarding counter terrorism activities, both online and offline. To foster Jewish life, the Commission will take measures to safeguard Jewish heritage and raise awareness around Jewish life, culture and traditions.”

As “one European in 20 has never heard of the Holocaust,” the EC vowed to “keep the memory alive” in cooperation with Member States and the research community through support of new memorials at lesser-known locations of atrocities such as mass shootings, as well as the establishment of a new network of “Young European Ambassadors” to promote Holocaust remembrance and a “European research hub” on contemporary anti-Semitism and Jewish life.

Toward realizing its goals, the EU committed to using “all available tools to call on partner countries to combat anti-Semitism in the EU neighborhood and beyond, including through cooperation with international organizations,” while working to ensure that “EU external funds may not be misallocated to activities that incite hatred and violence, including against Jewish people.”

The EU also vowed to strengthen cooperation with Israel in the fight against anti-Semitism and to promote the revitalization of Jewish heritage worldwide.