By Amy Zewe—
Antisemitism, traditionally called Jew-hate (since the term antisemitism is but a few decades old) is arguably the oldest form of hate on human record. The Jewish people have been an identifiable “people” for millennia; empires, communities, nations, and religions have come and gone, but the Jews remain a target with each passing generation.
Antisemitism in European history is quantifiable and did not simply manifest in the 20th Century under the Nazi regime. The Nazi’s were the ones to scale it along with its outcome of genocide and bring it to the world stage.
Even after the horror of the Holocaust was exposed and the Nuremberg trials attempted to administer some amount of justice, and the state of Israel was born so that Jews could have their own state on their historic homeland, antisemitism in Europe, and elsewhere, is still prevalent and dangerous.
The European Union has now put forth a plan to combat antisemitism in its member states. A problem that is on the rise while less than 80 years and one generation away from the scaled and systematic attempt to remove the Jewish people from the earth. Can you believe we are still within one lifetime of the horror that consumed a continent and was ignored for years by many? Europe was supposed to be enlightened–the cradle for thought, innovation, and progress. However, no amount of modernity, progress, and technology will ever beat out the sinister strain of hate that infects every generation.
According to a recent Jewish News Syndicate (JNS.org) article by Faygie Holt, The EU has identified and plans to implement a few strategies to quell the rising antisemitism on the continent.
Acknowledging that most European Jews do not feel safe in their home countries, the European Commission released a report earlier this month outlining strategies to combat antisemitism and encourage the growth of Jewish life in Europe.
Approximately 1.5 million Jews reside in the European Union—the largest population lives in France with roughly 445,000 Jewish residents, while some nations count just a few hundred Jews— the Jewish population is declining in part due to security concerns, the politicization of Jewish customs and a perceived lack of movement by governments to address antisemitism. Immigration to Israel and elsewhere by European Jews is more popular than ever.
A 2018 survey noted 85 percent of Jews polled said antisemitism was a “serious problem,” in the EU nations. the EU commission members laid out strategy to combat antisemitism to stem the tide of hate and help create (and retain) thriving Jewish communities.
To that end, their strategy relies on three elements:
- Preventing and combating all forms of anti-Semitism, including online.
- Protecting and fostering Jewish life in the E.U.
- Fostering education, research and Holocaust remembrance.
The elements of these three main points are to be administered based on local context. This strategy is also not mandated for member states, but rather they are highly encouraged to adopt and implement the strategies.
Among the commission’s pledges are the following:
- To better protect houses of worship and public spaces.
- To help member states design and implement plans to combat Jew-hatred.
- Increase fact-checkers to combat hate online.
- To strengthen training given to law enforcement and justices on tackling antisemitism.
- To support a network of places where the Holocaust happened.
- To establish a Young European Ambassadors group to promote Holocaust remembrance.
Response to this EU Strategy from the Jewish community has been positive.
“It is reassuring to see that the strategy aims at tackling anti-Semitism whether it originates from the far-right, the far-left, Islamists or mainstream society, and clearly identifies ‘Israel-related anti-Semitism’ as a major problem, As the commission notes, it is, in fact, ‘the most common form of anti-Semitism encountered online by Jews in Europe today.’ ”
-Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute, the American Jewish Committee’s European Union office.
“This is an unprecedented and vital document that will act as a roadmap to significantly reduce anti-Semitism in Europe and beyond,”
-Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress.
Our prayers for Europe should include that these strategies are fully implemented and welcomed by the communities in Europe. However, we should note that changing hearts is not always something we can legislate or implement from a government entity. That said, laws and cultural norms should stem from a solid, moral origin that includes shunning if not outlawing hate and discrimination against any group identified by race, color, religion, or culture.
Shavua tov, have a great week.