Yesterday, on 29 October 2019, the European Jewish Association and our partners from the Action and Protection Foundation /Hungary/ have once again travelled abroad to meet with government officials regarding the European Curriculum and Textbook Project against Antisemitism. This time, our destination has been the Slovak capital of Bratislava, situated at the very heart of Europe, in-between the Danube and Morava rivers.
Alex Benjamin, EJA’s Director of Public Affairs, Ferenc Olti, Board Member of the Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association, and Kálmán Szalai, APF’s Secretary, have met with Maria Prekop, Director General at the Department of Minorities and Inclusive Education, and Katarína Baranyaiová, Counsellor at the Department of Bilateral and Multilateral Cooperation of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic.
During the meeting, we have had a chance to present the project, its earlier implementation process and the results achieved in Hungary, as well as discuss the Slovak system of education, particularly its emphasis on minority inclusion and social dialogue, and thus briefly touch upon the project’s compatibility with the rules and customs already in place.
It has been agreed that our proposal shall be further carefully examined by the Ministry, with a special attention towards its operational feasibility in case of potential adaptation within the national curriculum.
We greatly appreciate the forthcomingness of the Slovak authorities and the very productive discussion with Ms. Prekop and Ms. Baranyaiová. We thus eagerly look forward to hopeful cooperation with the Ministry, the local Jewish community and other partners on this important initiative.
Yesterday, the European Jewish Association has had the honour of welcoming at its headquarters the Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the European Union, H.E. Madam Emina Merdan, and the Mission’s Minister-Counselor, Ms. Miranda Sidran.
Her Excellency has presented the EJA’s Chairman, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the original of the Rosh Hashanah congratulatory letter received earlier from H.E. Dr. Denis Zvizdić, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina. H.E. Madam Ambassador has also expressed and conveyed H.E. Mr. Chairman’s condolences regarding the Wednesday shooting near a synagogue in the German city of Halle, resulting in the tragic deaths of two people nearby.
During the meeting, we have in particular discussed Bosnia and Herzegovina: the country’s tragic recent past, its modern European aspirations, the multicultural and multi-religious nature of its society as well as the local Jewish community, having its roots in the Sephardic Jews fleeing from Spain more than five centuries ago.
The Jewish community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially if compared to many others throughout Europe, is quite special – there have never been any ghettos here, with the Jews always having been considered an integral part of the local society, with no inherent Antisemitism carried by their neighbours and compatriots. While the modern Bosnian Jewish community is much smaller than it used to be, it is very active, while the heritage of Ladino is carefully preserved. In turn, established in 1997, the Interreligious Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina unites representatives of the Catholic and Orthodox Christians, Muslims and Jews – working together to build a better future.
Potential cooperation between the Mission and the EJA has also been discussed – both sides have expressed sincere interest in further dialogue and carefully exploring such possibilities of collaboration on topics of common interest and concern. We are very grateful to Her Excellency for this visit and wish H.E. Ambassador Merdan the best of luck and much energy in her important work.
European Jewish Association’s King David Award gives recognition for “fearlessly and unambiguously taking the lead on the issue”, urge other clubs to follow Chelsea’s lead.
‘’Since our Club Owner Roman Abramovich initiated our ‘Say No To Antisemitism’ campaign in January 2018, we have been committed to working with Jewish organisations nationally and internationally to help stamp out antisemitism from our societies. We will continue to use our global platforms at Chelsea to say no to antisemitism and keep up the fight against this and all other forms of discrimination,”said Bruce Buck, Chairman of Chelsea FC who received the award on behalf of his club at Stamford bridge.
During Tuesday evening Chelsea vs Juventus Champions League game at Stamford bridge, a delegation from the European Jewish Association presented the Association’s prestigious King David Award for 2021 to Bruce Buck, Chairman of the Chelsea Football Club.
The recognition comes as a result of Chelsea’s ‘’Say No to Antisemitism’’ campaign, funded by club owner Roman Abramovich, which was launched in 2018 to raise awareness of and educate players, staff, fans and the wider community about antisemitism. The long-term initiative forms part of the club’s on-going inclusion work, through the Chelsea Foundation’s Building Bridges campaign.
“We are honoured to be the latest recipients of the European Jewish Association’s King David Award,’’ said Bruce Buck who received the award on behalf of his club. ‘’Since our Club Owner Roman Abramovich initiated our ‘Say No To Antisemitism’ campaign in January 2018, we have been committed to working with Jewish organisations nationally and internationally to help stamp out antisemitism from our societies. We will continue to use our global platforms at Chelsea to say no to antisemitism and keep up the fight against this and all other forms of discrimination,” he added.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association said of the award, “Sport brings out the best in people, but sadly it can also bring out the worst. And some of the worst examples of antisemitism often manifest themselves on the football terraces, and in stadia around the world. Chelsea was, of course, no exception to this rule. Except, that unlike others, they decided to do something about it.’’
“It is truly inspiring to see not only the significant investment made in this effort, but the genuine commitment to listen, to act and to make a difference. From the ground up, from grassroots initiatives to a website visited by millions, Chelsea Football Club has led the way, a shining light and example not just for other football clubs to follow, but for everyone,’’ he said.
He added, ‘’Presenting them with this award, on behalf of the many communities across Europe that we represent is the least we can do to recognise this movement for change that they have started, this ultimate force for good that gives hope to Jews everywhere that the lessons of the Holocaust will never be forgotten, and that antisemitism will be called out wherever it manifests itself.’’
Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi in the Netherlands and chairman of the EJA committee on combatting antisemitism, ‘’ underlined that ‘’the Chelsea model is one to be replicated everywhere, and we will let governments and organisations know about the great and important work you are doing here. King david is a Jewish hero. Chelsea are now heroes to the Jewish community.’’
Lebanese businessman Abdallah Chatila, a recipient of the 2020 King David Award who made headlines worldwide when he bought 600,000 Euro worth of Nazi Memorabilia at an auction and donated it to Jewish organisations as an act of registering his disgust at the auction, and who since has supported many initiatives that combat antisemitism, added:
“Antisemitism targets Jews but infects society as a whole. Ignorance, hatred and xenophobia have no place in a world where borders are increasingly meaningless, where values are universal and where different identities are to be cherished. I am proud to be here tonight at Chelsea, to be a continuing link in a chain of those committed to combatting antisemitism. Chelsea Football Club have a huge reach. They could have opted for an easier route. Instead they decided to tackle the issue head-on. It is inspiring to see. And for others to follow and emulate.”