The European Jewish Congress held its Executive Meeting on 10 November in Vienna, where members of the Executive gathered for the first time in person since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. They had the opportunity to discuss pressing issues affecting Jewish communities in Europe today.
EJC President Moshe Kantor opened the Executive by thanking both IKG Honorary and EJC Vice-President Ariel Muzicant and IKG President Oskar Deutsch for such a warm welcome and for organising an impressive series of events in Vienna.
On November 9th, the day before, Executive members attended a ceremony in front of the Shoah Memorial at the Judenplatz in order to commemorate the 83rd anniversary of Kristallnacht. The president of the Austrian National Council, Wolfgang Sobotka, laid a wreath together with Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai, EJC President Moshe Kantor and IKG President Oskar Deutsch. On the same day, Moshe Kantor, presented an unprecedented and detailed study describing how to defeat antisemitism comprised of a five-volume book series. The study was the outcome of an international high-level conference entitled “An End to Antisemitism!” held in Vienna in 2018, as a collaboration between the University of Vienna together with New York and Tel Aviv universities and the European Jewish Congress.
At the Executive meeting, Moshe Kantor outlined the priority for the next months and insisted on the importance of educating young people against the threats of extremism and antisemitism.
EJC Executive Vice-President Raya Kalenova then briefed Executive members on the latest developments and activities by the EJC, in particular the participation of an EJC delegation led by Moshe Kantor to the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism. Raya Kalenova also explained the importance of the recent European Commission Strategy on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life to which the EJC contributed in a substantial way.
Although the strategy is an unprecedented document and an invaluable tool in the fight against antisemitism, there is a lot of work ahead regarding its implementation by Member States. Executive members were briefed by Katharina von Schnurbein, EC Coordinator on the Fight against Antisemitism and the promotion of Jewish life, about the important policy calls and recommendations included in the strategy and about the positive developments it can bring to Jewish communities in the European Union.
Moving forward, Executive members congratulated Moshe Kantor for being awarded the “Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria” for “his fight against anti-Semitism, racism, extremism and intolerance and for greatly contributing to preserving the memory of the Shoah and revitalizing Jewish life in Europe”.
They gave updates to the Executive on matters affecting their respective communities. In addition to rising antisemitism especially on social media and the lack of prosecution of antisemitic incidents, a matter of concern to the EJC Executive is the assault on religious freedoms affecting Jewish Communities across Europe.
Finally, Israeli President Isaac Herzog addressed a special video message to the EJC Executive and members had the opportunity to exchange on the current state of Israel-Diaspora relations with Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Nachman Shai. Israeli Ambassador to Austria, Mordechai Rodgold, was also in attendance.