Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt
Rabbi Pinchas GoldschmidtDavid Friedmann

Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis, commented on Wednesday on the European Union’s declaration to mainstream the prevention and countering of anti-Semitism in all its forms.

“The declaration adopted today by the EU to universalize the fight against anti-Semitism is a welcome step in the right direction. However, whilst the fight against extremism and the far-right groups must intensify, we are dismayed that the draft does not protect the customs and practices of religious communities that operate peacefully and true to EU values,” said Rabbi Goldschmidt.

“Without a guarantee of freedom of faith for Jewish communities in Europe, there is no guarantee for a Jewish future,” he added.

The declaration published by the EU earlier on Wednesday calls anti-Semitism “an attack on European values” and adds, “Any form of anti-Semitism, intolerance or racist hatred is incompatible with the values and aims of the European Union and its Member States and must be addressed through decisive action at European and national level.”

The declaration affirms that it is Member States’ “permanent, shared responsibility to actively protect and support Jewish life.” It acknowledges the increasing prevalence of anti-Semitism in Europe, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and that “an increase in antisemitic incidents and hate crime is a cause of great concern.” The declaration calls on Member States to engage in “continuous dialogue with the Jewish community with a view to ensuring appropriate levels of security awareness, specific training for security staff and law enforcement officers, exchange of best practices and thorough implementation of appropriate measures to ensure the security of Jewish institutions.”

The European Council is expected to formally adopt the declaration at its December 10-11 meeting.

This declaration comes two years after, and reaffirms, the Council of the European Union’s December 6, 2018, declaration, under the leadership of the Austrian presidency of the Council, on the fight against anti-Semitism and the development of a common security approach to protect Jewish communities and institutions in Europe.

As per the new declaration, the European Commission Working Group on anti-Semitism will continue to support Member States in implementing the 2018 declaration.