The Labour party approves a draft action plan against antisemitism to be submitted to the government’s anti-racist body

December 9, 2020

The Labour party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) has approved a draft action plan against antisemitism it is required to submit to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the government anti-racist body,  ahead of a deadline later this week, The Jewish Chronicle reported.
The plan comes in response to  recommendations  of the EHRC report into antisemitism in the party.
The Labour’s action plan comprises the 18 key recommendations of the EHRC report, including the setting up of an independent complaints process to handle  allegations of antisemitism, other forms of discrimination and bullying.
The party had receive a 10 December deadline to produce a draft action plan in response to the findings and recommendations of the report released by the government anti-racist and equality body.
A Labour spokesperson said: ”Labour’s national executive committee has given its approval to the draft action plan it is required to submit to the EHRC this week.
“It covers all the EHRC’s recommendations and is an important step towards Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner’s commitment to rebuilding trust and confidence with our Jewish members and the Jewish community.”
The action plan is believed to contain details on how  Labour intends to live up to Keir Starmer’s zero tolerance commitment to reports of antisemitism in the party in the future, how it will introduce training sessions on anti-Jewish racism to be conducted by the Jewish Labour Movement, and how it will effectively monitor improvements to ensure lasting change within the party.
Asked to comment the process in the Labour party by its new leader Keir Starmer, Gideon Falter, Chairman of the UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism, who has been in the forefront of the battle to refer the party  to EHRC because it was not taking its complaints against former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seriously, said: ‘’‘’The point is that this is a man, Jeremy Corbyn, who put 47% of British Jews in fear of their future in this country.He surely cannot be allowed by his political party, which claims to be anti-racist, to go without answer for that. He must be held to account in a fair, independent disciplinary process.’’
Falter added during a webinar hosted by the European Jewish Association: ‘’If this is going to be polluted by Keir Starmer’s  political considerations about who has the power in Labour, then I don’t think the party has learned his lesson. The Labour party has to secure justice against anti-Semites.’’
Last month, Starmer decided not to readmit Corbyn in its parliamentary ranks despite the fact that a Labour disciplinary panel lifted the suspension of Corbyn’s party membership.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation identified serious failings in leadership and an inadequate process of handling anti-Semitism complaints.
Its report said the party was responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act: political interference in anti-Semitism complaints, failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism complaints and harassment.
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Meeting with H.E. Madam Ilga Šuplinska, Minister for Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia

Earlier last week, on 6 November 2019, the European Jewish Association and our partners from the Action and Protection Foundation /Hungary/ and Association “Shamir” /Latvia/ have come together to further promote the ongoing Europe-wide initiative on the European Curriculum and Textbook Project against Antisemitism. This time the meeting brought us to the Gem of the Baltics – Rīga, the enchanting capital of the Republic of Latvia.

At the meeting, where the EJA has been represented by Mihails Vorobeičiks-Mellers (Political Affairs Adviser), the APF by Kálmán Szalai (Secretary) and Shamir by Rabbi Menahems Barkahans (Chairman) and Jūlija Tereščenko (Project Manager), we have had a chance to meet with H.E. Madam Ilga Šuplinska, Minister for Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia, and members of her staff.

The meeting took place at a beautiful Jugendstil building constructed back in 1911, which the Ministry occupies since 1938. Besides the earlier Hungarian experience, the system of education in Latvia has been discussed, particularly the various curricular and extra-curricular initiatives and programmes already implemented or currently planned by the educational authorities and other entities, such as NGOs, and which are related to different aspects of Jewish studies in the country, and thus the project’s area of topical coverage.

Differently from other meetings, this one has taken place in two languages – English and Latvian. As a result, the overall tone of the conversation became somewhat more personal, with a variety of first-hand experiences having been brought up by the EJA’s representative, taken from his own school years as well as Jewish studies back home. In turn, Rabbi Barkahan has described Shamir’s very active long-time work and accomplishments in the latter field.

In the course of the discussion, several areas of possible cooperation have been identified, including on the composition of new academic materials for school pupils. Moreover, interest in potential event collaboration both in Latvia and abroad has been indicated.

We are deeply grateful to H.E. Minister Šuplinska and the Ministry of Education and Science for the interest, time and the opportunity to hold this important discussion, not to mention for being such welcoming hosts. We very much look forward to further contacts on the present initiative and other subjects of common interest and concern.

EUROPEAN JEWISH ASSOCIATION Annual Policy Conference Budapest: 20-21 June

New Cooperation with The Jewish Community of the NIG Twente

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 The Jewish Community of the NIG Twente.
We are sure that this cooperation will bring with it beautiful and important accomplishments. We look forward to working for the betterment of Dutch and European Jewry together.

EU steps up fight against antisemitism

The European Jewish Association welcomes the European Council declaration on fighting antisemitism that reaffirms its commitment for a common security approach in Europe to protect Jewish life and make it more visible as part of Europe’s identity.
“We welcome the acknowledgement of the European Council of the Member States shared responsibility to actively protect and support Jewish life in Europe and the acknowledgement of the contribution of Judaism and Jewish life that have indeed considerably shaped European identity and enriched Europe’s cultural, intellectual and religious heritage.  We look forward to working with EU institutions and national governments across policy areas as we continue the fight against antisemitism together,” stated EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin.
you can read more about it here:

The European Council welcomed on Friday a declaration on mainstreaming the fight against antisemitism across policy areas.

In its conclusions, the European Council condemned “all forms of attacks on the freedoms of expression and religion or belief, including antisemitism, racism and xenophobia, and underlines the importance of combating incitement to hatred and violence, as well as intolerance.”

The Declaration, which was approved last week by the Justice and Home Affairs Council, describes antisemitism as an EU-wide phenomenon and emphasises that the fight against it is a cross-cutting issue involving various levels of government and policies at local, national and European level.

The Council expressed its concern at the increase in threats to Jewish people in Europe, and the resurgence of conspiracy myths, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the increase in antisemitic incidents and hate crime.

It stresses that antisemitism has developed into various forms and must be combated with complementary public policies. Illegal hate speech and online terrorist content must be removed promptly and consistently by internet service providers. A strong and systematic judicial response to antisemitic acts is also necessary.

Education about the Holocaust, antisemitism and Jewish life remains one of the most important tools in preventing antisemitic prejudices. Sharing good practices to foster media literacy and awareness of conspiracy myths is also key.

The member states welcomed the European Commission’s decision to make the fight against antisemitism a priority, as well as the strengthening of the institutional basis for the coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life.

The Declaration states that, “Judaism and Jewish life have contributed considerably to shaping European identity and enriching Europe’s cultural, intellectual and religious heritage. We are grateful that 75 years after the Holocaust, Jewish life, in all its diversity, is deeply rooted and thriving again in Europe. It is our permanent, shared responsibility to actively protect and support Jewish life.”

“As a researcher on contemporary European antisemitism, I welcome the Council Declaration on the fight against antisemitism,” commented Lars Dencik, a Swedish professor in social psychology. “The appeal to fight antisemitism ‘in a holistic way’, i.e. across policy fields and member states, is highly relevant.”

“To organize systematic data collection and analysis of antisemitism across all member states would be most valuable,” he added. “To focus on the upsurge of antisemitic conspiracy myths appears also adequate and necessary. The point of actively protecting and supporting Jewish life and making it more visible as part of European identity is very well taken.”

The European Commission presented also on Wednesday a a new Counter-Terrorism Agenda for the fight against terrorism and violent extremism and boost the EU’s resilience to terrorist threats. Among others, the EU will step up efforts to ensure physical protection of public spaces including places of worship through security by design.

The Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, confirmed at a press conference that special resources will be dedicated to protect churches, mosques and synagogues. “We are giving cities the means to protect open public spaces through good design and we are ensuring that we can respond quickly and more efficiently to attacks and attempted attacks.”

Preventing attacks by addressing radicalisation and countering spread of extremist ideologies online is important and the Commission proposes to adopt rules on removing terrorist content online as a matter of urgency. The same goes for antisemitic hate speech, according to the Council Declaration.

“Antisemitic hate speech, including public condoning, denying or grossly trivialising the Holocaust, is increasingly influential and is shared online often without any consequences for those who produce and/or disseminate it. Crimes committed online should be punished just as crimes offline are and must be adequately addressed by means of effective prosecution and other measures.”

The Declaration underlines that The Council Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law (2008/913/JHA) must be transposed and effectively implemented by the Member States, including for crimes committed on the internet.

New forms of antisemitism

Dencik, the researcher of antisemitism, is sceptical and thinks that it borders on wishful thinking to have global internet providers monitoring and removing hate speech on their platforms. He adds that somewhat unnoticed in the Council Declaration are emerging problems of “antisemitism in disguise” and “latent antisemitism” and refers to conspiracy theories and attacks on individual Jews and Jewish institution emanating from hatred against Israel.

The Declaration does mention that recent studies, for example by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), show that antisemitism in all its forms is increasingly prevalent in Europe.

Reaffirming their commitment to a previous Council declaration in December 2018 on the fight against antisemitism, the EU member states also referred to the non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism employed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

“We welcome the fact that 18 Member States have already followed up on the Council declaration of 6 December 2018 by endorsing the IHRA working definition as a useful guidance tool in education and training. Member States that have not yet done so are invited to join the other Member States and endorse the IHRA working definition as soon as possible.”

The borderline between antisemitism and legitimate criticism of Israel and its government is often blurred and has become politicized, including in Israel. “Criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic,” says the definition and distinguishes between legitimate criticism and verbal attacks against Israel that might be fuelled by antisemitism and antisemitic stereotypes.

The list of such examples includes denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, accusing Israel of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust, drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, and applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

The Commission has been forced to strengthen the fight against antisemitism almost every year. “The 20th century had many deseases. The only on that remained incurable is antisemitism,” Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said in 2018. He criticised some EU member states for their identity politics. “If you choose identity policy, it will sooner or later refer to minorities and the first minority to be hit is the Jews.”

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