European Union First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová have appointed a coordinator on combating anti-Semitism and a coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred. This task was originally announced in the Commission's First Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights which was held in October.
The task of these coordinators will be to act as a liaison for the communities and to bring to the attention of the First Vice-President and the Commissioner any issues that the communities feel need to be addressed. The coordinators will act as dedicated contact points for these communities. They will also help to develop the European Commission's overarching strategy to combat hate crime, hate speech, intolerance and discrimination.
Ms Katharina von Schnurbein, a German national, has been appointed as the Coordinator for combating anti-Semitism. Von Schnurbein has been coordinating the Commission's dialogue with churches, religions, philosophical and non-confessional organizations and was part of former Commission President José Manuel Barroso's advisory team.
Yogev Karasenty, Director for Combatting Anti-Semitism at the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, told Arutz Sheva that "while we don’t know the Coordinator personally, we welcome the move and look forward to a positive working relationship."
“The US has a special envoy to combat anti-Semitism, Ira Forman. The position has existed in the US for a long time. We are happy that the Europeans are following in their footsteps and are appointing a special envoy to whom the Jewish community can turn to.”
Another source from the Ministry said: “The Ministry will be an ardent and determined ally for the new coordinator.”
Karasenty also said that the Ministry looks forward to the return to the working definition of anti-Semtism that was created by the Commission in 2004 and shelved in 2011. According to Karasenty, the official reason given to the shelving of the working definition was due to it being an unofficial policy.
"A working definition is not a law, but it helps law enforcement personnel to recognize when they are seeing a hate crime," he said.
The working definition reads:
“The purpose of this document is to provide a practical guide for identifying incidents, collecting data, and supporting the implementation and enforcement of legislation dealing with anti-Semitism.
Working definition: Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.
In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity."
“A lot of the issues around the removal of the working definition, were Israel related,” said Karasenty who expressed dismay that the working definition had not been reinstated yet. “The working definition was balanced and appropriate, and qualified a lot of anti-Israel speech, slogans and imagery as anti-Semitic and as hate crimes.”
“The first major task at hand is to reinstate the recently shelved EU definition of anti-Semitism and make it binding,” said the Ministry source.