Raya Kalenova, EJC Executive Vice-President and CEO, addressed the Conference “An End to Antisemitism!” during the first Leadership Talk Session at the University of Vienna, alongside Nathan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency, and Katharina von Schnurbein, European Commission Coordinator on Combatting Antisemitism.
The Opening of the Conference was held on 18 February in Vienna’s City Hall and the event concluded on 22 February.
Ms. Kalenova introduced academics and experts to the work of the EJC in the field of advocacy, which covers a broad range of issues such as protecting religious freedoms, ensuring the commemoration of the Shoah and fighting antisemitism in all its forms: “Our communities face very diverse challenges, from security issues and attacks on fundamental freedoms to antisemitism, which comes from the far right, the far left and from radical Islam. As such, they need a strong voice, a voice that is heard and respected, and most importantly, an effective voice,” she stated.
Furthermore, Ms. Kalenova emphasised the need for a thorough follow-up after the successful adoption of the Resolution on Antisemitism on 1 June 2017 by the European Parliament. “Through this Resolution, the European Parliament reaffirmed the responsibility of society as a whole for the problem of antisemitism and formulated a series of policy recommendations to be implemented in the Member States of the European Union. Moreover, a priority for us is that law enforcement and the judiciary rely systematically on the working definition, because they need to be able to recognise antisemitic hate crimes when they occur,” she added.
The Leadership talk also focused on the issue of antisemitism disguised as legitimate criticism of Israel: “There is an urgent need to educate against the notion that Jews are “fair target” for violence and harassment in the name of this so-called “political criticism” of Israel, the only Jewish state. Our approach here is to oppose the normalisation of narratives that threatens our communities and to ensure that they are not given space in political discourse.”
Wishing academics productive deliberations for the coming week, Ms. Kalenova concluded by saying: “I am excited for the new insights, new approaches and new strategies resulting from this conference that will help us fight antisemitism on the ground.”