Following the report of the EU Fundamental Rights Survey on Anti-Semitism and results which displayed extreme levels of concern regarding physical attacks against Jews and a general atmosphere of antagonism towards Jewish communities, a top level meeting of European stakeholders, including MEPs and Ambassadors from The Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Israel was held in the European Parliament on Tuesday, November 26 to address the issues raised in the report and to advocate for political measures.
The symposium was organised by the European Jewish Congress alongside the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism and B’nai B’rith International and hosted by MEP Claude Moraes, Chairman of the Informal Working group on anti-Semitism, with the special participation of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s that presented the results of its first ever survey report on anti-Semitism in 8 EU countries.
Speakers included the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Laszlo Surjan, the head of Europe’s largest Jewish community in France, the president of the CRIF Roger Cukierman as well as Salla Saastamoinen, Head of Unit of the Fundamental Rights in the DG Justice of the European Commission, among others.
Cukierman told the gathering that anti-Semitism “affects Jewish families very seriously and is the main reason there are so few Jewish children in public schools’,. “Jews do not feel comfortable in France and across Europe’ Cukierman said. ‘Top-down attempts to ban circumcision and kosher slaughter compound the effect of bottom-up anti-Semitism’.
The representative of the European Commission stated that “The Fundamental Rights Agency’s report is a reminder of the continuing need for Member States to be vigilant in fighting against anti-Semitism and to effectively enforce EU laws on the ground. The Commission takes the findings of today’s report very seriously.
According to Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, Head of Equality and Citizens’ Rights Department at the FRA, ‘Antisemitism in the EU appears to be widespread, according to findings from FRA’ survey among Jews. In the eight countries surveyed, about three quarters believe that antisemitism is worse now than it was five years ago, particularly online. Many have personally experienced antisemitic hate crime and harassment. This FRA report seeks to help put an end to the worry many Jews feel for simply being themselves.
The Symposium also shed light on abusive terms used by football fans and made particular reference to the rise of racism and anti-Semitism in football through the presentation of a film by British comedian David Baddiel and his brother, the author and producer, Ivor Baddiel.
The film, entitled specifically dealt with use of derogatory terms towards Jews by fans during football matches in England.
David Baddiel said that it was vital to make people realise that hate speech directed towards Jews is as unacceptable and as offensive as that directed towards black and Asian people. ‘There must be a level playing-field for offensiveness, that all minorities deserve equal protection from hatred, and that all racism must be fought equally’ Baddiel said.