Meeting with European Commissioner for Education on Anti-Semitism

February 19, 2019

The EJA and our partners at Action and Protection Hungary Mr Kalman Szalai and Mr Ferenc Olti, were honored to have a meeting with European Commissioner for Education Navracsics Tibor and Ms Katharina Schnurbein, European Coordinator on combating antisemitism, on countering antisemitism through education.
Mr Ferenc Olti initiated and ran a successful project in Hungary, positively influencing the national curriculum and teaching children about Judaism and the important role played by Jews in Hungarian society.
As the EU wrestles with the challenge of rising antisemitism across the continent, we are working closely with the Commission with a view to setting up pilot education projects based on the Hungarian model in several European countries. We will keep you posted as this important initiative moves ahead in coming weeks.
 

Additional Articles

EU seeks to rally against anti-Semitism

Under Germany’s presidency, the member states are planning to take decisive action against antisemitism in Europe in light of increase anti-jewish conspiracy theories during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In December, the heads of state and government seek to adopt a declaration at the next EU summit to establish a uniform approach within the European community against all forms of hatred towards Jews.
“It is our constant, shared responsibility to protect and support Jewish life actively,” says the draft resolution, which is set under the preamble: “Anti-Semitism is an attack on European values.”
The initiative to develop binding guidelines was put on the agenda by Germany, which holds the EU Council Presidency until the end of the year. Two years ago, the member states committed themselves to national strategies against anti-Semitism the first time.
Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was observed how anti-Semitic prejudices were openly conducted.
Among other things, the declaration calls for “awareness of anti-Semitism in all political areas” and the tackling of “a cross-cutting issue in which various government agencies and policy areas at local, national and European level should be involved.”
Recently, a study by the Israeli foreign ministry indicated how anti-Semitism significantly increased ever since the pandemic had started, particularly in regard to conspiracy theories.
According to the analysis, most anti-Semitic statements connected with the world health crisis were posted online in the US, France, and Germany.
The EU’s plan states that “anti-Semitic conspiracy myths are often the first step that can lead to hatred, hate speech, incitement to violence, and hate crimes.”
The latter is why the heads of state and government and the European Commission seek to upgrade the European anti-Semitism commissioners’ work.
In drawing up the declaration, they worked closely with the Jewish organizations and responsible specialist politicians in Europe. There is positive progress at the European level; however, the effects are not yet reaching the Jewish Europeans. The latter is why the EU Commission also seeks to present a common strategy with further concrete measures against anti-Semitism next year.
Within the member states, the new EU agreement is intended to provide authorities such as public prosecutors and police forces and social institutions such as schools in the future as a practicable basis for assessing anti-Jewish tendencies.
Germany’s council presidency has been under the radar due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The upcoming December declaration, however, could mark a significant moment, nonetheless.
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Danish parliament to consider becoming first country to ban circumcision of boys

There is too much emphasis on the parents’ religious and cultural rights’

The Danish parliament is to consider whether to become the first country to ban boys being circumcised after a petition forced lawmakers to debate the issue.

A citizens’ petition that called for the introduction of a minimum age of 18 for circumcision to protect “children’s fundamental rights” reached 50,000 signatories on Friday, taking it beyond the threshold at which it must be discussed in Parliament.

The debate should take place in the autumn, after the Danish parliament reconvenes, but it is highly unlikely that the bill will pass into law since the government appears to be opposed to such a course.

“We’d be all alone and the first country in the world to go in that direction. That’s our objective analysis,” foreign minister Anders Samuelsen told Altinget.

“It makes us vulnerable and it means that the allies who normally help us in a precarious situation, will, in this situation, not be by our side.”

The defence minister, Claus Hjort Frederiksen, also appeared unenthusiastic.

“I think the political risk is enormous,” he told reporters, going on to cite fears that the issue could provoke outside interference: “One may risk that it suddenly begins to explode on social media.”

Other parliamentarians, however, were in favour of a ban.

“It will put children’s rights ahead of their parents’ religious rights,” said Naser Khader, the spokesman on human rights and legal affairs for the Conservative Party, a junior partner in the governing coalition.

“There is too much emphasis on the parents’ religious and cultural rights,” Khader said.

“For me, it is the main children’s rights [which are paramount]. We have been a pioneer country in many other areas, for example, we have been first movers of homosexuals’ rights and we have been proud. Not [with] children’s rights,” he added.

Proponents of boyhood circumcision say that the removal of the foreskin can reduce the risk of fatal diseases like cancer, but the claims are contested.

However, its prevalence is largely due to religious traditions within Islam and Judaism that revolve around the ideal of cleanliness.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says the health benefits of male circumcision outweigh the risks but not by enough to recommend universal male circumcision.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says doctors should educate infant boys’ parents about the health benefits of circumcision, which it says reduces the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

Lena Nyhus of the group Intact Denmark told The Associated Press on Saturday that her children’s welfare organisation believes “we need to respect a person’s right to decide for themselves” on a possible circumcision when they become an adult.

Around 30 per cent of men across the world have been circumcised, according to a 2007 World Health Organization report.

A recent poll commissioned by Danish TV2 broadcaster found that 83 per cent of respondents supported such an age limit on circumcising boys.

However, the proposal is unlikely to pass since none of Denmark’s main political parties support it.

Earlier this year, Icelandic lawmakers initially backed a plan to ban circumcisions for minors and to give those who performed the procedure possible jail sentences. But after an outpouring of criticism, including from European Jewish leaders, the proposal was dropped.

The article was published in the Independent

New Cooperation with The TSKŻ, Poland

The European Jewish Association is proud and delighted to welcome another organisation to our growing roster of partners and communities.

We have just concluded and signed a memorandum of understanding with Poland’s TSKZ.

The TSKŻ (The Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland) is the most important organization representing the interests of the Jewish community of Poland with 16 branches and nearly 2,000 active members.

TSKŻ aims to organize and to promote cultural events and Jewish art exhibitions, to consolidate and preserve the cultural heritage of Polish Jews, the Jewish culture among Jews and Poles, Yiddish language courses and publishing projects. The organisation is very active in preserving the memory of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and of the Shoah.

They are also organizing conferences and lectures on Jewish and Israeli topics.

TSKŻ is managing welfare and health programs for its elderly members.

TSKŻ is also operating summer camps for youth and a Training & Holiday Center “Śródborowianka” in Otwock, as a place of regular meetings of the Jewish community from all over the country.

When two dynamic and active Jewish organisations get together and agree to work closely together, beautiful and important things flow from this. We look forward to working for the betterment of Polish and European Jewry together.

Nehammer: Synagoge perpetrator with Islamist motives arrested, around the clock protection for synagogues and Jewish institutions

During a press conference in Vienna on the 24th of August 2020, Karl Nehammer, Minister of the Interior, Karoline Edtstadler, Minister for the EU and Constitutional Affairs, Susanne Raab, Minister for Women and Integration, and Oskar Deutsch, President of the Jewish Community in Vienna, as well as Elie Rosen, President of the Jewish Community Graz, commented on last week’s attacks on a Synagogue and a LGBT rights advocacy center in Graz.
“Last week’s incidents in Graz are shocking and not acceptable. It is not solely a matter of  criminal law with property damage and attempted personal injury, but first and foremost an absolutely unacceptable attack on fundamental rights and freedoms.  It was an attack on the freedom of religion and the diversity of lifestyles in our society”, the Minister of Interior said. “In Austria, there is no place for Antisemitism!”  Nehammer stressed that it was of importance to act quickly. “Yesterday evening, after comprehensive investigations led by the Federal Agency for State Protection and Counter Terrorism and the Styrian police, the offender could quickly be arrested. The offender is a 31 years old Syrian citizen, who lives and holds a refugee status in Austria since the year 2013. I want to thank all the police officers who were involved in the arrest for their efforts.” The Minister added that according to the current investigations the attacks were due to Islamist motives. The man was questioned until early morning and admitted the crimes. “Corresponding evidence was found and secured In the perpetrator’s flat.”
Uniformed and civil police officers protect all Jewish institutions in Austria
“Austria stands for freedom as well as a diverse society and is aware of its historic responsibility”, the Minister of Interior stressed. “The security of the Jewish community in Austria is especially important to us. Our police work in close collaboration with the security staff of the Jewish community to ensure their safety. I have in the meantime ordered further measures so that synagogues and other Jewish institutions will be protected by uniformed and civil police officers around the clock in the coming weeks.” Nehammer stressed that it is our joint concern that Jewish people can live in peace and security in Austria: “The Austrian Government will do everything in order to guarantee the safety of our Jewish citizens.”
 

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