EJC Director of European Affairs addresses high-level UNESCO “Educating against Antisemitism” conference in Paris

EJC Director of European Affairs Ariella Woitchik gave the closing remarks at the “Educating against Antisemitism, Intolerance, and Discrimination in France: Essential Elements for Teacher Training” conference organised by UNESCO, DILCRAH, and the French Ministry of Education in Youth, in partnership with the OSCE and the European Commission in Paris on 21st February 2024.

The conference brought together school inspectors, teacher trainers, educators, policymakers, and representatives of Jewish organisations and European institutions to share knowledge and good practices on preventing antisemitism through education.

The focus of the conference was the crucial role of teachers and the capacities that help them recognise, prevent, and respond to antisemitism in schools, and discuss practical ways to enhance cooperation in the fight against hatred in the educational field.

Ms Woitchik spoke about the need to make schools a safe place for Jewish students amid rising antisemitism in Europe after the Hamas massacre on October 7th, and on the importance of educating future generations about the history of the Shoah, the dangers of Jewish hatred and also the diverse culture and life of the Jewish people.

“It is unacceptable that in 2024, parents of Jewish faith find themselves living in fear of sending their children to school, or that they have to advise them to hide their identity in public. Dozens of Jewish schools have been evacuated due to bomb threats, and Jewish students in many public schools face constant harassment, both online and offline.”

“Educators and teachers play a decisive role in raising awareness about the dangers of antisemitism in our societies. To counter antisemitism, a form distinct from racism, it is necessary to explain its specific nature, origins, and evolution over time. It is crucial to dismantle conspiracy theories and misinformation while providing young people with the necessary skills to navigate the internet, empowering them with critical thinking abilities” said EJC Director of European Affairs.

Ariella Woitchik concluded by thanking UNESCO, Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education at UNESCO and the team headed by Karel Fracapane, Programme Specialist Education Sector, for their engagement and support in the fight against Antisemitism and conspiracy theories.