EJC Executive Vice-President and CEO Raya Kalenova addressed 2021 European Anti-Racism Summit co-hosted by the European Commission, the Portuguese Presidency of the European Council and the Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup of the European Parliament (ARDI).
The summit was organised at the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. and addressed the implementation of the European Anti-Racism Action Plan at various levels with the involvement of EU Institutions, Member States, civil society, equality bodies and grassroots organisations.
Ms. Kalenova took part in a high-level panel entitled: ‘The European Anti-Racism Action Plan – From words to action.’ During the intervention, she stated:
“We as Jews know only too well what institutional and structural racism is. Excluded for centuries from European society, degraded and humiliated with pointed hats and yellow stars, forced to live behind ghetto walls, prevented from exercising most professions, later denied membership of clubs or entrance into universities, and forcibly exiled from almost every European country.
“We know what exclusion is. And we know where it leads. In living memory, half of European Jews were exterminated as the ultimate exclusion.”
“Today, antisemitism continues to fester, mutating and finding a home in all ideologies and movements.”
“Our experience has taught us that when anyone’s rights are in danger, the whole society is in danger. While racism, antisemitism, anti-gypsyism and anti-Muslim hatred exist anywhere, it affects us all.”
“And this is one of the reasons why we have to stand together with our brothers and sisters in other minority communities and to offer solidarity and commitment to examining our structures.”
“We cherish our excellent cooperation with the European Commission and the member states, but also with our civil society partners.”
“We are never responsible for the racism we face, and we demand that it is never exonerated or minimised or contextualised. Racism must never be defined by the oppressor but by the victim.”
“In order to strengthen interaction, we need first to acknowledge that the fight against racism is indivisible and with no degrees or hierarchies.”
“The fight against racism must be taken into account at all levels and structures of European institutions and it must always start by listening to the experiences of discriminated groups.”
“The European Union and the Member States, but also civil society institutions, and our own minority ethnic, religious and cultural communities themselves, must work to ensure that structures are open equally and without favour to all members of society.”