Czech parliament and Moldova adopt IHRA definition of anti-Semitism

February 11, 2019

The Czech parliament’s Speaker Radek Vondracek expressed the hope that this action will help Czech authorities to be able to deal effectively with hate crimes.
PRAGUE—The parliament of the Czech Republic and Moldova this week endorsed the working definition of anti-Semitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
The endorsement occurred ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January.
The Czech parliament’s Speaker Radek Vondracek expressed the hope that this action will help Czech authorities to be able to deal effectively with hate crimes.
According to the IHRA, “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Anti-Semitism in the Czech Republic is at a relatively low level. Czech President Milos Zeman is a close ally of Israel.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder praised the Czech Parliament.
“Czech lawmakers have taken a principled and important step  in recognizing that antisemitism is a prevailing problem that must be tackled head-on and in a universal fashion.’’
‘’The Czech Republic is certainly on the correct path, for which we are both grateful and encouraged, but there is still much work to be done. The problem of antisemitism cannot be resolved without proper recognition of the issue at hand, encoding of proper methods to contend, and enforcement of this mechanism across the board,’’
Last week, Moldova also endorsed the IHRA definition, while the European Union did it in December.
The Moldovan government has committed itself to fight antisemitism, protect its Jewish community and preserve Holocaust memory, including with the creation of a Museum of Jewish History in the Republic of Moldova.
The article was published on European Jewish Press

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POLISH SENATE KICKS KOSHER MEAT EXPORT BAN UNTIL 2025 – EU JEWISH HEAD VOWS TO KEEP ON FIGHTING “AS WE HAVE FOR GENERATION AFTER GENERATION”

Brussels 14 October 2020. After the Polish Senate voted today to postpone the controversial animal rights Bill provisions to ban the export of Kosher meat, European Jewish Association Chairman (EJA) Rabbi Menachem Margolin said he was encouraged by the clear opposition to the Bill but vowed to keep fighting to stop any eventual ban.
The EJA Chief had instigated an open letter signed by dozens of Jewish Leaders and Parliamentarians across Europe and Israel in which signatories voiced their opposition to the provisions on Kosher meat in the Bill and called on the Polish Government to reject them.
In a statement today Rabbi Margolin said,
“The provisions in this Bill relating to Kosher exports have had a very rough ride. It is clear that they enjoy little support from farmers and command little enthusiasm from the Senate itself.
“This is encouraging and we thank all of those Senators who have responded in such a strong way and who have taken what is a principled stand, as well as all the parliamentarians and Jewish leaders from across Europe who made their voices heard.
“But the battle isn’t over. It has merely been postponed. If you kick a can down a road, you will eventually run out of road.
“We will continue to oppose this Bill, today, tomorrow, next week, next month and for the next years. Just as we have from generation after generation whenever our way of life, our very faith is called into question. In the weeks and months ahead we will redouble our efforts to ensure that 2025 becomes permanent instead, starting with the Polish Sejm where this Bill next appears for a vote.”
In closing Rabbi Margolin said,
“The European Jewish Association will never falter in its determination to stand up for Jewish life, tradition, values and practice wherever and whenever they are under threat in Europe”

Statement on COVID-19 economic policy response

Following up on the videoconference on 10 March 2020 between European Council Members, as well as the ECB President, the Eurogroup President and the High Representative, the Eurogroup held an in-depth discussion today, together with non-Euro Area Members, on how to respond to the extraordinary human and economic crisis caused by the Corona virus.
The Eurogroup expressed its sympathy and solidarity with the citizens and the Member States particularly hit by this crisis and its gratitude to those risking their own health to save lives. The Eurogroup is following the situation very closely and is in permanent contact and coordinated to give a strong economic policy response to the exceptional situation. Our commitments of today reflect our strong determination to do whatever it takes to effectively address the current challenges and to restore confidence and support a rapid recovery.
Today, we welcomed all the measures taken by Member States and by the European Commission, in particular those taken to ensure that health systems and civil protection systems are adequately provided for to contain and treat the disease, preserve the wellbeing of our citizens and help firms and workers that are particularly affected.
Facing these exceptional circumstances, we agreed that an immediate, ambitious and co-ordinated policy response is needed. We have decided to act and will respond swiftly and flexibly to developments as they unfold. We will make use of all instruments necessary to limit the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak. We have therefore put together a first set of national and European measures while setting a framework for further actions to respond to developments and to support the economic recovery. Preliminary estimates of the European Commission show that total fiscal support to the economy will be very sizeable. We have, so far, decided fiscal measures of about 1% of GDP, on average, for 2020 to support the economy, in addition to the impact of automatic stabilisers, which should work fully. We have, so far, committed to provide liquidity facilities of at least 10% of GDP, consisting of public guarantee schemes and deferred tax payments. These figures could be much larger going forward.
The following measures are part of our co-ordinated responses to protect our economies.
1. All national authorities will allow automatic stabilisers to function and in addition implement all necessary measures to ensure that the economic consequences of COVID-19 are tackled and that they do not put in danger our economic and social achievements. To the extent required by the evolving situation in each country, they will implement temporary measures such as:

    • Immediate fiscal spending targeted at containment and treatment of the disease. Adequate resources will be provided to our health sectors and civil protection systems;
    • Liquidity support for firms facing severe disruption and liquidity shortages, especially SMEs and firms in severely affected sectors and regions, including transport and tourism – this can include tax measures, public guarantees to help companies to borrow, export guarantees and waiving of delay penalties in public procurement contracts;
    • Support for affected workers to avoid employment and income losses, including short-term work support, extension of sick pay and unemployment benefits and deferral of income tax payments.

2. Coordinated efforts at the European level will supplement national measures:

    • We welcome the Commission’s proposal for a €37 billion “Corona Response Investment Initiative” directed at health care systems, SMEs, labour markets and other vulnerable parts of our economies, and to make a further €28 billion of structural funds fully eligible for meeting these expenditures. We agreed on the need to implement the necessary legislative changes as quickly as possible;
    • We welcome the initiative of the Commission and the EIB Group to mobilise up to €8 billion of working capital lending for 100,000 European firms, backed by the EU budget, by enhancing programmes for guaranteeing bank credits to SMEs. We also support the ongoing efforts of the Commission and the EIB Group to increase this amount to up to €20 billion, which would reach a further 150,000 firms. We also welcome the ongoing work to make further funds available as swiftly as possible and to enhance the flexibility of the financial instruments leveraged;
    • We welcome the initiative of the EIB Group to catalyse €10 billion in additional investments in SMEs and midcaps for their own account and to accelerate the deployment of another €10 billion backed by the EU budget;
    • We invite the EIB to further enhance and accelerate the impact of the available resources, including through enhanced collaboration with the National Development Banks;
    • We also welcomed the package of monetary policy measures taken by the ECB last week aimed at supporting liquidity and funding conditions for households, businesses and banks, help the smooth provision of credit to the real economy, and avoid fragmentation of euro area financial markets in order to preserve the smooth transmission of monetary policy.

3. Beyond the immediate, targeted response, we are working on all the necessary measures, to help the economy recover once the coronavirus has receded. We acknowledge the need to reflect on the resilience of our European strategic value chains to better protect Europe from product and capital market disruptions in the future. We have already significantly strengthened our crisis management framework, including with the establishment of the ESM. Today we recommit to continue our work to further strengthen the architecture and resilience to shocks of the Economic and Monetary Union.
Our shared rules will support this response. In particular, we discussed the application of the SGP, state aid rules and prudential rules:

  • The economic shock of the coronavirus, with an economic contraction now expected this year, together with the cost of our agreed measures, will have a substantial budgetary impact. The SGP has the flexibility needed to cater for this situation and we will make full use of this flexibility in all member states.
  • Automatic stabilisers will fully play their role. This means that automatic revenue shortfalls and unemployment benefit increases resulting from the drop in economic activity will not affect compliance with the applicable fiscal rules, targets and requirements. In addition, we agreed that the budgetary effects of temporary fiscal measures taken in response to COVID-19 will be excluded when assessing compliance with the EU fiscal rules, targets and requirements. This includes the budgetary impact of temporary and targeted measures, such as those urgently needed to contain and treat the pandemic, ensure liquidity support to firms and sectors, and protect jobs and incomes of affected workers. The flexibility to cater for unusual events outside the control of government is applicable to the current situation. We welcome the readiness of the Commission to activate the general escape clause, allowing for further discretionary stimulus, while preserving medium-term sustainability.
  • We welcomed the Commission guidance on the scope for supporting firms that is available within state aid rules in the current circumstances, together with the Commission announcement that it has accelerated its state aid approval processes. The Commission has announced it will approve additional measures needed to remedy this serious disturbance in the economy, which is already the case for Italy and increasingly across the EU. Taking urgent action and making full use of the flexibility foreseen in the state aid rules is necessary to cushion the effect of the crisis for those companies and sectors which are affected, whilst ensuring a consistent framework and a level playing field in the single market. The Commission stands ready to issue a specific framework shortly.
  • The banking system has a key role in preventing this health emergency from turning into a social and economic crisis for businesses and households. We therefore welcomed the statement by the European Banking Authority that competent authorities should make full use, where appropriate, of the flexibility embedded in existing regulation to support the banking sector in view of the current exceptional circumstances.
  • In particular, we also welcomed the decisions taken by ECB Banking Supervision providing temporary capital and operational relief to euro area banks, with a view to ensuring that supervised banks can continue to fulfil their role in funding the real economy as the economic effects of the coronavirus become apparent. Such flexibility is needed to avoid, as much as possible, pro-cyclical, unintended consequences for the financial sector.

We will take whatever further coordinated and decisive policy action is necessary, including fiscal measures, to support growth and employment.

German Nazi war crimes suspect, 96, who went on the run goes on trial


Irmgard Furchner, a 96-year-old former secretary to the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp, is pictured at the beginning of her trial in a courtroom, in Itzehoe, Germany, October 19, 2021. Christian Charisius/Pool via REUTERS
A 96-year-old German woman who was caught shortly after going on the run ahead of a court hearing last month on charges of committing war crimes during World War Two appeared before a judge on Tuesday in the northern town of Itzehoe, writes Miranda Murray, Reuters.
Irmgard Furchner (pictured), accused of having contributed as an 18-year-old to the murder of 11,412 people when she was a typist at the Stutthof concentration camp between 1943 and 1945, was taken into the sparse courtroom in a wheelchair.
Her face was barely visible behind a white mask and scarf pulled low over her eyes. Security was heavy as the judge and legal staff made their way into the court.
Between 1939 and 1945 some 65,000 people died of starvation and disease or in the gas chamber at the concentration camp near Gdansk, in today’s Poland. They included prisoners of war and Jews caught up in the Nazis’ extermination campaign.
Irmgard Furchner, a 96-year-old former secretary to the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp, arrives in a wheelchair at the beginning of her trial in a courtroom, in Itzehoe, Germany, October 19, 2021. Christian Charisius/Pool via REUTERS
Judge Dominik Gross arrives in the courtroom for the trial against Irmgard Furchner, a 96-year-old former secretary to the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp, in Itzehoe, Germany, October 19, 2021. Christian Charisius/Pool via REUTERS
The trial was postponed after Furchner left her home early on Sept. 30 and went on the run for several hours before being detained later that day.
Charges could not be read until Furchner, who faces trial in an adolescent court because of her young age at the time of the alleged crimes, was present in court.
She is the latest nonagenarian to have been charged with Holocaust crimes in what is seen as a rush by prosecutors to seize the final opportunity to enact justice for the victims of some of the worst mass killings in history.
Although prosecutors convicted major perpetrators – those who issued orders or pulled triggers – in the 1960s “Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials”, the practice until the 2000s was to leave lower-level suspects alone.

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