Addressing anti-Semitism in schools: UNESCO and OSCE launch framework curricula for teacher trainers

December 9, 2020

UNESCO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE-ODIHR) are publishing new resources for teacher trainers, titled Addressing Anti-Semitism in Schools: Training Curricula. Launched online on 24 November (5pm CET), the publication responds to an alarming rise in anti-Semitism, which is threatening the security of Jewish communities and individuals around the world.
The publication reflects the view that education plays a crucial role in raising young people’s awareness of anti-Semitism and helps them resist the harmful messages of hate speech. In 2019 alone, anti-Semitic hate crimes increased by 13% in Germany and 14% in the United States, for example. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a new wave of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, while studies in the United States and Europe show a marked increase in Holocaust denial and distortion, both on- and off-line.
Supporting educators in particular, UNESCO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) are publishing new resources for teacher trainers, titled ‘Addressing Anti-Semitism in Schools: Training Curricula’. The publication will be launched online on 24 November at 17.00 CET.
Recognizing that schools are not immune to messages and acts of hate, UNESCO and ODIHR’s new publication prepares teachers and school directors to resist anti-Semitism through education and to address it when it arises in an educational environment. Divided into four distinct volumes, the publication includes targeted curricula for trainers of teachers in primary, secondary and vocational education, as well as school directors. The resources were developed with the support of the University College London Centre for Holocaust Education, as part of ODIHR’s Turning Words into Action to Address anti-Semitism project and within the framework of UNESCO’s programme on Global Citizenship Education.
The curricula follow a human rights-based approach and provide pedagogical knowledge and concrete activities, designed to strengthening learners’ critical thinking, understanding, and rejection, of anti-Semitism, prejudice and discrimination. Each volume includes a comprehensive list of good practices as well as examples of scenarios and methodological suggestions. Adding to the publication, the USC Shoah Foundation UNESCO Chair on Genocide Education is developing a website that will link the curricula to existing online teaching resources.
The new publication is based on UNESCO and ODIHR’s 2018 guidelines for policymakers on Addressing anti-Semitism through Education. In 2019, the guidelines informed a series of capacity-building workshops, which reached policymakers from more than 60 countries.
The online launch on 24 November will feature statements by Katarzyna Gardapkhadze, Officer-in-Charge of ODIHR, Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director General for Education, and German Ambassador Michaela Küchler, who holds the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Chair. A panel discussion will focus on The role of education in addressing antisemitism with the participation of Maram Stern, Executive Vice President of the World Jewish Congress, Sharon Nazarian, Senior Vice President of International Affairs at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Stuart Foster, Executive Director of the University College London Centre for Holocaust Education. It will be moderated by Stephen Smith, Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation and UNESCO Chair for Genocide Education. The framework curricula will be introduced by Ruth-Anne Lenga, Programme Director, and Arthur Chapman, Associate Professor in History Education of the University College London Centre for Holocaust Education.
The article was published in MirageNews

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Message by Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah

It is my great pleasure to wish you, your families and friends and Jewish communities all over the world a joyful and blessed Erev Rosh Hashanah and a happy new year 5779, full of health, prosperity and success.
Rosh Hashanah is always a good time to look back at the year before, to review our deeds, an opportunity to reflect but also to revive our engagement for causes we believe in and adjust our path accordingly.
It was a challenging year for Europe and its Jewish communities as our societies were put to the test, again. We witnessed demonstrations of Jewish communities in several countries standing up against antisemitism and claiming their rights as citizens. Europe is built upon the richness of our diversity and the unity of our fundamental values. That is why I have great confidence in our collective future.
The European Commission’s relationship with Jewish communities, organisations and representatives has never been closer. This alliance makes us stronger in the battle against hatred, extremism and antisemitism. I was very honoured to receive the Lord Jakobovits Prize of European Jewry this year. I see it as a sign of trust in the bond that exists between the European Union and the Jewish communities.
With shock and sadness I recall the horrific murder of Mireille Knoll who survived the roundup at Vel d’Hiv in 1942, but not antisemitism in Europe in 2018. The European Commission was very clear that there can be no justification and we stand in full solidarity with the European Jewish communities in condemning these vile attacks in the strongest possible way.
Jews should never have to wonder whether it is safe to display their identity in their own neighbourhood, city or country. Europe must remain a place where Jewish life can flourish and Jews can freely practice their faith without fear or restrictions. It doesn’t matter where the hatred comes from, whether it is right-wing, le -wing, Islamist extremists or whether it comes masked as antizionism, we all have the obligation to stand up and speak out.
Against resurging threats, the rebirth of Jewish life in many parts of Europe is a precious gi . It filled me with pride to take part in the inauguration of the new rabbi in my own home region last year and to see the continuation of thousands of years of Jewish communities in Europe. Every new synagogue, community centre and school is a step to strengthen Jewish life, but also a step to strengthen Europe and to strengthen our societies.
We will ensure that Jewish voices continue to be heard in Europe and let me thank all of you who participated in the broadest consultation ever on challenges to Jewish life in Europe, conducted by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency. The results will be presented this December and will guide our policy response with the ultimate aim of ensuring the rights of Jews in Europe.
This year is also special as we celebrate two crucial moments in history: the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, enshrining the lessons for humanity from the Shoah, and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, materialising the Jewish people’s dream of a Jewish homeland.
The European Union was built on the values of respect for human dignity, human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. We have the obligation to protect and strengthen the richness of Jewish culture and diversity and its contribution to our Europe.

Chairman of EJA, Rabbi Margolin's Words on the Latest Poll on Antisemitism

Have you ever been stuck in a dire situation where someone wants to help you with a problem, but you know their approach isn’t going to work? And you don’t want to offend them by saying as much as their intentions are good?

In ordinary life, it’s a dilemma. But when it comes to the Millions of Jews living in Europe, the time for such niceties and politeness is now officially over.

On Tuesday, the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) and the European Commission published their second survey on discrimination and hate crime against Jews in the EU. The FRA’s director said the findings “make for a sobering read”.  That would be understatement.

With 28% of respondents indicating that they have been harassed at least once in the past year, with 79% of Jews who experienced anti-Semitic harassment in the past five years not reporting this to the police or another organisation, with 34% avoiding visiting Jewish events or sites because they do not feel safe, with 38% considering emigrating because they did not feel safe as Jews in Europe, and with 70% considering that efforts by Member States to combat Antisemitism are not effective, this is not sobering. This is an unmitigated disaster.

The report, as brutal and stark as its findings are did not shock me in the slightest. It simply confirmed all the feedback, all the phone calls and all the reports that we at the Europaen Jewish Association had been getting, and made the red lines that we ratified at our conference in November all the more pertinent and pressing.

Before we get to the red lines, let us ask the most pressing question. Why is Europe failing so badly in making Jews feel secure? It does after all say all the right words, publishes reports and invests in people to fight the scourge of this oldest hatred. How can it be that 70% of Jews don’t believe it will make a difference?

The answer is wrapped up in the same word that entangles much of the good intentions of the EU institutions, and that word is competence.

Competence is basically which areas the EU can have a say (or interfere depending on your position). So, the EU can, if you are a Member State, tell you how many fish you can catch a year but not where your army should be deployed. It happens that human rights and freedom of religion, indeed the very subject of antisemitism itself is not an EU Competence. That means in essence that all the fine words, all the reports, and all of the various agencies looking at this in Brussels cannot compel, sanction or effectively reprimand any breaches. That, therefore,  makes human rights, freedom of religion and antisemitism voluntary instead of compulsory and open to interpretation or political manipulation.

That’s problem number one. For example, during the religious slaughter debate in Denmark, it was said that animal welfare takes precedence over Freedom of Religion. When it comes to circumcision, a similar argument over the right of the child to choose is being habitually made, in many countries. We can, and often do, get into public discourse of the minutiae of such debates, on scientific, health and any number of grounds, but this misses the central point. Is Freedom of Religion (and freedom to practise) a fundamental right or not? Everyone says so, so it must be right? Then why are we, as a Jewish Association engaged every year in efforts across the continent to defend Kosher slaughter and Brit Milah? It is increasingly apparent that there is nobody to police, much less defend, this vital part of the foundation on which the EU is built.  We as Jews are left with the Animal Farm scenario, where “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

The other words that get us all tangled up are political and expediency. And this is problem number two, that of Anti-Zionism/Anti-Israelism. It is clear in a number of countries, and from the EU’s own statistics from the last few years, that there are massive spikes in anti-Semitism whenever Israel is involved in defensive actions, such as operations in Gaza, or efforts to break the navy blockade. The BDS movement, and their followers in the left wing stir up hate speech, draw false parallels with South Africa under apartheid and raise modern blood libels. Anti-Zionism is, make no mistake, the modern ‘acceptable’ face of anti-Semitism. Looking at the report, over 85% of respondents in Belgium and France feel that the arab-Israeli conflict affects their feelings of safety “a great deal”. Whether you support the Israeli government or not, whether you are secular or not, that Israel affects you as a Jew is undeniable.

Which makes the EU’s position on the matter all the more ridiculous. Anti-Semitism is a no-no, but criticism of Israel is free speech. This from the mouth of the EU’s High Representative herself. Where is the red line on this free speech? Does it stop at Jewish Nazi? Zionist child killer? Israeli Organ harvester? There isn’t a clear answer, allowing the Israel haters and the modern anti-Semites in the far left and BDS movement to act and talk with impunity.

Let us recap. On two of the biggest touch-paper issues affecting anti-Semitism across the continent - whether real or perceived - the EU is either incapable in the first instance, and unwilling for the sake of political expediency to act on the second. 

As I opened with, the time for niceties is over. Nobody is questioning the intentions of the European Institutions and European countries to tackle the problem, and we genuinely thank them for this commitment, but you can’t and wont tackle the oldest hatred leaving the competence question open ,nor by maintaining a two-faced approach to anti-Semitism where Israel is concerned. It really is the political equivalent of using a bucket to take the water out of a boat, without blocking the hole in the first place!

And that right there - those two gaping holes in the hull - are why the Jews interviewed by the survey – all 70% of us – don’t have any faith that efforts will be effective.

So, what can be done? The EJA sent every European political party “Jewish Red Lines” that were ratified by democratic vote by our members across Europe.  None of them are rocket science, but they can and would plug the holes.

Our members said that Political parties and their leadership must sign up to the full IHRA definition of Anti-semitism. That Every European Country must appoint a dedicated Special Representative to combat anti-Semitism where one already doesn’t exist. That all political parties pledge to exclude from government parties or politicians that espouse anti-Semitism as defined by the IHRA definition. That all political parties must pass, in accordance with their respective rules of procedure, binding resolutions that reject BDS activities as fundamentally anti-Semitic, and lastly that all political parties support in writing and in party documents their support for freedom of religion and freedom of practice at Member State level and EU level.

These red lines are the bare minimum that is needed to make a real difference. Europe’s principal leaders and parties were sent them, will be aware of them, and should adopt them immediately if they are serious about tackling anti-Semitism and gaining the trust of Jews who feel literally cast adrift from the very people who tell them they want to help.  If you really want to help us, the message is clear. Listen to us, adopt the red lines and let’s consign reports like this to the dustbin of history. Otherwise, expect a worse report next year. And the year after that too.

GREECE: KOSHER SLAUGHTER “UNDER DIRECT ATTACK” AS GREEK SUPREME COURT RULES THAT SLAUGHTER WITHOUT STUNNING VIOLATES EU LAW

Jewish freedom of religion is under direct attack across Europe from the very institutions that have vowed to protect our communities, says European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin.
Move comes as consequence of European Court of Justice Ruling last December that member countries may ban the practice of ritual slaughter in order to promote animal welfare, without infringing the rights of religious groups.
The December ruling  said that the EU’s animal slaughter regulation “does not preclude member states from imposing an obligation to stun animals prior to killing which also applies in the case of slaughter prescribed by religious rites”, but encouraged member states to find a balance. It is now clear that a number of member states are zealously applying the former whilst ignoring the latter,
In a statement this evening, the Chairman of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association, which represents hundreds of communities across the continent, said:
“We warned in December about the downstream consequences that the European Court of Justice ruling carried with it, and now we see the outcome. Jewish Freedom of Religion is under direct attack. It started in Belgium, moved to Poland and Cyprus and now it is Greece’s turn.
“These direct attacks are coming from many of the same governments and institutions who have sworn to protect their Jewish Communities.
“What we are witnessing is rank hypocrisy. When it comes to antisemitism, governments and institutions rightly stand behind us. But when our faith and practice is assailed left and right by laws, they are nowhere to be seen, nowhere to be found.
“What use is it to protect Jews while legislating fundamental pillars of our religion out of existence?
We will urgently making representations to the highest levels of the Greek government to get direct answers to this simple but fundamental question: How can there be Jews in Europe if you keep bringing in laws against us? Ends

Swedish hospital suffers two legal defeats after antisemitic treatment of Jewish doctor

The Post obtained a six-page letter dated October 11 that outlines “pervasive antisemitism that appears to have become normalized and systematized at the Karolinska University Hospital."
The letter noted that “We are particularly concerned with the appalling treatment of one of your Jewish physicians.” The Lawfare Project uses legal action to “vindicate the civil and human rights of Jewish people worldwide.”
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