The European Jewish Congress (EJC) held its annual meeting of directors of affiliated communities on November 6-7, 2017. Twenty-five presidents, directors, professionals and experts from Jewish communities and organisations throughout Europe gathered in Brussels to discuss recent developments on the European Jewish street, to exchange best practices, and to discuss the opportunities and challenges ahead.
The most prominent item on the agenda was the discussion of the European Parliament (EP) Resolution of 1 June 2017 on combating antisemitism. EJC Director of EU affairs Nuno Wahnon Martins gave a thorough presentation of the process that led to the adoption of the Resolution and urged the communities to work together with their governments to make sure that policy call of the resolution are fully implemented. Additionally, the Community Security Trust’s Director of Government and International Affairs Mike Whine gave insights into his advocacy work for a Resolution at the level of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which laid the ground for this year’s Resolution at the level of the European Union.
The adoption of the EP Resolution was an important achievement in the fight against antisemitism, but it is only a first step. “With this Resolution, we have an opportunity to push effectively for the implementation of important measures to combat antisemitism. There is much work ahead of us, but together we can accomplish a lot to make our communities safe and to guarantee that Jewish life in Europe continues to thrive”, said EJC Executive Vice-President Raya Kalenova.
Therefore, political engagement by Jewish communities is essential. This year’s Annual Meeting of Directors served as a forum for Jewish professional leaders across Europe to share best practices for effective political engagement, taking into account the diversity of Jewish communities in Europe. Community leaders from Estonia, Italy, Portugal, and the United Kingdom gave insightful presentations on strategies for political engagement in their respective countries.
Furthermore, participants discussed the challenges and concerns faced by the communities of Belgium, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Poland.
For the final session, participants were introduced to the recently published OSCE Practical guide “Understanding anti-Semitic hate crimes and addressing the security needs of Jewish communities” by Ilan Cohn, Project Manager at the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Afterwards, participants engaged in a productive discussion on the role that community leaders, governments, intergovernmental organisations, and the EJC’s Security and Crisis Center (SACC by EJC) can play in responding to today’s security challenges.
At the official dinner, participants were addressed by H.E. Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Ambassador of the State of Israel to the European Union and NATO. Several Members of the European Parliament, the European Commission officials, and prominent members of the Belgian Jewish community were also among the guests.