SUCCESSES IN THE FIGHT AGAINST ANTISEMITISM

December 26, 2018

It should become a tradition to not only publish major antisemitic slurs at the end of each year. There is now also a possibility to publish successes in the fight against antisemitism.

In 2018, there were a variety of important actions against antisemitism. Summarizing the main ones at the end of the year provides some counterweight to the annual report of the worst antisemitic incidents -- regularly increasing in pages -- published now for a number of years by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
One important development is the expanding acceptance of the definition of antisemitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition (IHRA). One cannot try to fight antisemitism effectively unless there is a common measure of what it entails. By now the IHRA antisemitism definition had been formally adopted for internal use by the United Kingdom, Israel, Austria, Scotland, Romania, Germany, Bulgaria, Lithuania and the formerly Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It has also been accepted by a wide array of others such as universities and towns including the cities of London and Berlin.
A second substantial development was successes in the fight against the BDS movement which aims to delegitimize the State of Israel. Legal measures play an important role in hampering BDS. In November 2018, Kentucky became the 26th American state to pass legislation to ban awarding state contracts to companies that endorse the BDS movement. The governors of all 50 US states have signed a declaration condemning the BDS movement as antithetical to American values. Chile has recently forbidden its municipalities to boycott Israel by aligning themselves with the BDS movement as a reason not to conduct business with Israel. Various municipalities in Spain have also tried to apply BDS to their practices. However, a number of courts have voided these measures, for instance, in Barcelona.
Yet another positive development is the appointment of antisemitism commissioners in Germany. This occurred at the national level but also in a variety of federal states. National commissioner Felix Klein has already addressed many aspects and incidents of antisemitism in Germany. He has, for instance, indicated that he intends to tackle the political distortion of reported statistics of antisemitic acts. Crimes against Jews by unknown perpetrators are registered as having been committed by extreme right-wingers, while attacks on Jews by Muslims are far more numerous than what is recorded. Among the state commissioners, Ludwig Spaenle of Bavaria has initiated a monitoring function that is slated to become operational next year.
The European Commission had already in 2015 appointed Katharina von Schnurbein as the coordinator for combating antisemitism. She has undertaken various initiatives, however has not been given anywhere near adequate resources to fulfill her task in exposing the massive antisemitism among the more than 500 million EU citizens.
A fourth important development is the increasing assurance of the security of synagogues and other Jewish institutions. Switzerland has been extremely negligent in this area. Finally this year, the first Swiss city, Basel, belatedly decided to join this process and assign police officers to guard the synagogue. This is an important precedent and challenge for other towns in the country.
A fifth important development is the publication of additional studies on antisemitism. In December, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) released a report it claims is the largest study on antisemitism ever undertaken. It investigated twelve European Union countries and is titled: “Experiences and Perceptions of Antisemitism.” The study found that the most common antisemitic statement encountered by Jews in Europe is that Israelis behave like Nazis toward the Palestinians. Muslim antisemitism is mentioned as the dominant identified source of harassment of Jews in Europe. It is followed by left-wing antisemitism and right-wing antisemitism. It is a Europe-wide problem that due to poor follow up, most victims of antisemitic incidents do not complain to the authorities.
There are many other incidental or smaller issues of importance. One was a French manifesto against Muslim antisemitism that was signed by 250 Jewish and non-Jewish personalities. This document sums up the main elements of violence and incitement against Jews emanating from parts of this immigrant community. One can only hope next year others will follow in those footsteps and expose what a variety of European governments try to hide or whitewash. Fifteen years too late, French President Emmanuel Macron has formally accepted that the murder of Jewish disk jockey DJ Sebastien Sellam in 2003 by a Muslim neighbor was an antisemitic act.
The Council of the European Union (EU) approved the first declaration of its kind to fight antisemitism and strengthen the security of Jewish communities in Europe. Outgoing US Ambassador Nikki Haley castigated the UN saying, “We will not tolerate a situation that a world body of 198 countries can spend half their time attacking one country: Israel.”
British media such as The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph have exposed the substantial antisemitism in the British Labour Party, which is led by Jeremy Corbyn, a friend of genocidal terrorists, associate of Holocaust deniers, anti-Israel inciter and part-time antisemite.
There are many other meritorious acts against antisemitism by individuals. Alyssa Milano refused to speak at the Women’s March in the US after two of its leaders Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour refused to break ties with the leading US antisemite Louis Farrakhan. Another important development was the firing of extreme anti-Israel inciter Marc Lamont, by CNN.
It should become a tradition to not only publish major antisemitic slurs at the end of each year. There is now also a possibility to publish successes in the fight against antisemitism.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is the emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, and the International Leadership Award by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The article was published in The JPost

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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.

Greetings for Rosh HaShanah by Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Spain, H.E. Mr. Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón

Federal Chancellor of Austria Blessings for Rosh HaShanah

The EJA warmly thanks Federal Chancellor of Austria, H.E. Sebastian Kurz for His Excellency's kind wishes to the European Jewry in light of the recent holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

President of the Portuguese Republic blessings for Rosh HaShanah

The EJA warmly thanks H.E. Marcelo Nuno Duarte Rebelo de Sousa, President of the Portuguese Republic, for His Excellency's kind wishes to the European Jewry in light of the upcoming holiday of Rosh HaShanah

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