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December 2, 2020 2:54 pm

EU Council Adopts Declaration to Bolster Fight Against Antisemitism

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

European Union flags in front of the European Commission building, in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: Amio Cajander via Wikimedia Commons.

The European Union’s main body for the coordination of its 27 member states adopted a declaration on Wednesday pledging to step up the fight against antisemitism and protect Jewish life on the continent.

As The Algemeiner first reported last week, EU leaders decided on issuing the declaration as a means of establishing “a uniform approach within the international community against any form of hostility towards Jews.”

The six-page declaration published by the Council of the European Union stated that “antisemitism, in any form, is and must remain unacceptable and all steps must be taken to counteract it, including, where necessary, through legal measures at European level.”

It underlined that “the member states of the European Union support policy initiatives at European level that aim to combat incitement to antisemitic hatred and acts of violence, as well as the dissemination of antisemitic conspiracy myths online.”

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The declaration acknowledged that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic was fueling particularly dangerous antisemitic conspiracy theories, particularly on social media channels.

“The increase in threats to Jewish persons in Europe including the resurgence of conspiracy myths, public expressions of antisemitism, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and an increase in antisemitic incidents and hate crime is a cause of great concern,” the declaration stated.

The council highlighted the centrality of the definition of antisemitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in the educational and judicial contexts, urging its uniform adoption.

“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,” the declaration stated. “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.”

Jewish leaders welcomed the declaration as a milestone in the fight against antisemitism, which has risen sharply year on year in most EU member states over the last decade.

“Europe has a serious and terrifying antisemitism problem, and it’s high time that the European Union, its Member States and local authorities direct real resources to it,” Ronald Lauder — president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) — said in a statement.

“The adoption of this declaration by the Council of the European Union demonstrates that Germany in its Council presidency and the EU leadership as a whole recognize the danger that antisemitism and hate create and the threat to society and safety when left unaddressed,” he added.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt — president of the Conference of European Rabbis — was more circumspect, stating, “The declaration adopted today by the EU to universalise the fight against antisemitism is a welcome step in the right direction. However, whilst the fight against extremism and the far-right groups must intensify, we are dismayed that the draft does not protect the customs and practices of religious communities that operate peacefully and true to EU values. Without a guarantee of freedom of faith for Jewish communities in Europe, there is no guarantee for a Jewish future.”

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