The Israeli-Jewish Congress (IJC) Holds
Special Roundtable Gathering in Brussels With Senior European Jewish Leaders and Katharina von Schnurbein, EU Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism
On 3rd June, 2016, The Israeli-Jewish Congress (IJC) was honored to lead a delegation to Brussels of senior Jewish leaders from Europe for a special Roundtable Gathering with Katharina von Schnurbein, the newly appointed EU Coordinator on combating Antisemitism.
The delegation included 20 Jewish leaders, heads of communities and senior representatives from over 10 countries, including the most populous Jewish communities in Europe and those at the forefront of Antisemitism today.
Countries represented included: Belgium, France, UK, Germany, Hungary, Spain, Italy, Greece, Sweden, Latvia and Lithuania.
The gathering, initiated by IJC, came against a backdrop of ongoing rising Antisemitism across Europe, including in violent attacks on Jews and, increasingly, attacks on Zionism and Israel as the Jewish State.
During the gathering, Ms. von Schnurbein, the most senior EU official solely devoted to the combating of Antisemitism in Europe, had the opportunity to listen first-hand to the Jewish leaders about the situation in their communities, including the daily challenges they face from Antisemitism, which Ms. von Schnurbein described as “threatening society as a whole.”
Ms. von Schnurbein unequivocally stated “there must be no tolerance towards Antisemitism,” noting that “we need to tackle Antisemitism in all forms”, including the “Antisemitism that hides behind Anti-Zionism.”
She added “that what starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews” and that therefore “fighting Antisemitism must not be left just to the Jews, but society as a whole.”
During the gathering, Ms. von Schnurbein updated the Jewish leaders about some of the steps the EU is taking to combat Antisemitism, including the announcement of last week’s Code of Conduct  between the European Commission and Social Media companies to “remove hate speech inciting to violence within 24 hours.” The IJC and the Jewish leaders all welcomed this positive development.
Recognizing the severity of the situation, which IJC President Vladimir Sloutsker described “an existential threat to the EU”, calling for “a joint approach” and “new strategic change” in fighting Antisemitism, the Jewish leaders discussed a number of further immediate action items and proposals, including:
- Need for uniform a definition of Antisemitism in Europe that includes attacks on Zionism as Antisemitism. To this end, the Jewish leaders welcomed the recent announcement of the IHRA  (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) to adopt a strong Working Definition of Antisemitism, which includes reference to Anti-Zionism and called on national parliaments & EU institutions to adopt a similar definition that is binding in law.
- Discussion was also held about the worrisome repercussions BDS activities can have on Jewish communities in Europe, with a suggestion made by a number of Jewish leaders to consider the French model of legislation that outlaws BDS on basis of discrimination against a group of people on the grounds of their origin or belonging to an ethnic group, nation, race or religion.
- Greater enforcement of Holocaust denial laws, where currently only 13 of the 28 EU member states have laws specifically criminalizing Holocaust denial in line with European legislation.
- Increased focus on education, including the study of racism, hatred and implications of the Holocaust. In this regard, IJC welcomed Ms. von Schnurbein’s recognition that education is “the long-term arm of fighting Antisemitism.”
- It is crucial to increase efforts in interfaith dialogue and inter-cultural cooperation between various faiths, ethnic groups and civil society organizations, especially the Muslim community, in our shared fight against bigotry, hate and Antisemitism.
IJC Executive Director Arsen Ostrovsky said this meeting was “only the beginning of an on-going dialogue which we aim to facilitate between the EU Coordinator and Jewish communities in Europe, in order to empower each other in this joint fight against the scourge of Antisemitism.”
You can view pictures from our Special Gathering on the IJC Facebook page here .
For further media enquiries, please contact IJC Executive Director Arsen Ostrovsky (firstname.lastname@example.org , +972 (0)3 644 4688).
The Israeli-Jewish Congress is an independent Israeli-based organization devoted to promoting the principle of Israel as the State of the Jewish People and strengthening the bond between Israel and Jewish communities in the Diaspora, particularly in Europe. As part of this mission, the combating of Antisemitism and Delegitimization of Israel are one of our foremost priorities given the current circumstances in Europe, where Antisemitism has again reached peak levels.