EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor called for a full recognition of the severity of antisemitism and for finding practical solutions at “An End to Antisemitism” conference at the University of Vienna.
The unprecedented event, consisting of 150 speakers from North America, Israel and Latin America, Australia and various European countries, opened by Heinz Engle, Rector of the University of Vienna, Dr. Kantor, who is a co-organiser of the event and French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy.
“We have brought together for this conference leading experts and professionals from across the world, with the collaboration of three prestigious universities (Vienna, NY and Tel Aviv Universities) and we have taken on a very ambitious objective – to plant the seeds that will end antisemitism,” Dr. Kantor said in his opening address. “This must be the beginning of the end of antisemitism. Because talking about antisemitism is not enough. We must be ambitious and pragmatic in order to find enduring solutions to this problem.”
“People marching in the streets of European capitals shouting ‘Death to the Jews’ has led to the actual death of Jews, and will continue if Europe does not react. That police and military protection for Jewish communities is, of course, necessary, is in itself a shameful indictment on European society. We have an obligation not to give antisemitism any space in the public sphere with radical forces on the Left and Right gaining strength.”
Among the other speakers at the five-day conference are renowned political, academic and religious decision-makers and opinion-shapers, including: Former Chancellor and Chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Austria Christian Kern; Audrey Azoulay, Director-general of UNESCO, Katharina von Schnurbein, European Coordinator on Combating Anti-Semitism; Nathan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency; EJC Executive Vice-President Raya Kalenova; Irwin Cotler, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada; Andrew Baker, American Jewish Committee and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and Prof. Dina Porat, Yad Vashem Chief Historian and the Head of the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry.
Dr. Kantor also spoke about the Freedom Party being brought into the current Austrian Government.
“While some of the language from this party may have changed, it would need a stronger, concrete break from the past,” Dr. Kantor said. “For the Freedom Party to be acceptable to those of us who look for a more open and tolerant Europe, they must get rid of all elements of its darker past and take practical steps. These must include the immediate rejection of anyone with an anti-Semitic past and who has made insulting comments publicly or virtually.”
“We have taken note of the recent announcement of the setting up a panel of researchers to investigate its history. However, this can not just be a tool of distraction or find evidence against a few already departed members. The panel must lead to practical recommendations that are enacted.”
This event came together because of the consistent rise of antisemitism around the world, especially in Europe. The conclusion of the conference’s analysis of antisemitism will be a list of policies which will effectively fight against and prevent antisemitism around the world. These policies will be distributed to politicians, religious dignitaries, journalists, those in the legal profession and other decision-makers. The conference’s experts will develop specific short-term, mid-term and long-term strategies to combat antisemitism around the world with the aim of severely lessening it in future generations.