EJC Executive Meeting – Athens – 9 December 2013

The European Jewish Congress (EJC) Executive met in Athens today where it expressed support for the actions undertaken by the Greek Government against the neo-Nazi party, the Golden Dawn.

In a meeting with the EJC Executive, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was presented with an award “in recognition of his courageous leadership in protecting tolerance and human rights”.

“We commend Prime Minister Samaras on his leadership, especially his brave and courageous stand against the Golden Dawn party who want to use and abuse democracy for their hateful and racist agenda,” Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the EJC, said about the award to Prime Minister Samaras. “We ask that this experience and leadership be used as an example and a model for the rest of Europe when Greece assumes the rotating EU Presidency in January.”

The EJC Executive also discussed the European Parliament elections in May next year with Prime Minister Samaras and called on him and other European leaders to ensure that voter apathy and a lack of mainstream political mobilization does not ensure that the far-Right makes significant electoral gains.

“Polls show that a third to a quarter of the next European Parliament could be made up of populist, far-Right nationalist and neo-Nazi parties which would stymie moves against hate speech and push legislation limiting religious practices,” Kantor said. “This could result in a far less governable European Parliament and put the unity and morality of the Union at risk.”

The major rise of anti-Semitism, as demonstrated by the recent EU Fundamental Rights Agency survey on anti-Semitism, was also discussed.

“The recent FRA Survey on Anti-Semitism should serve as a wake-up call for European tolerance,” Kantor said.  “The fact that more than one fifth of European Jewry is too scared to identify as Jewish or go near a Jewish institution should serve as a frightening warning that our democracies are under attack.”

“While the survey was about Jews, the results are probably negative for other ethnic, religious or national minority, and it demonstrates that parts in Europe is being driven by the extremes.”

The Executive also discussed the recent interim agreement between the P5+1 and Iran on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program and was briefed on the agreement and its implications by Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, former head of the Israeli National Security Council.

“Europe should take a leading role in these negotiations as they have reason to be extremely concerned by a possible nuclear-armed Iran, especially as its missile systems can reach significant parts of our continent, including Greece,” Kantor said. “The P5+1 is weighted towards significant European involvement with three nations involved in these negotiations, as well as the significant role and weight of the European Union. There is no other international institution where the European involvement, by sheer weight of numbers, is so great.”

“This is also an opportunity for Europe to assert itself on the world stage. It is a tremendous opportunity for the continent in the new alignment on the international stage and I hope it is not wasted.” Kantor added.

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