EJC president: Europe must prove Jews have a future here

European Jewish Congress (EJC) President Dr. Moshe Kantor called on European leaders to adopt IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

Hezki Baruch, Brussels ,

Dr. Moshe Kantor with Antonio Tajani
Dr. Moshe Kantor with Antonio Tajani

In a speech he gave to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the European Parliament, European Jewish Congress (EJC) President Dr. Moshe Kantor called on European leaders to show their commitment to fighting hatred against Jews by adopting the definition of anti-Semitism agreed to in May by the Berlin-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) . The UK has already officially adopted the definition.

On 26 May 2016, the IHRA Plenary in Bucharest decided to adopt the following non-legally binding working definition of anti-Semitism: “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.”

“I urge all European governments to follow the British Government’s lead and adopt this definition,” Dr. Kantor said. “The reason this is so essential is because for the first time it tells anti-Semites, your words and actions are illegal.”

“Currently, in most of Europe, we have an absurd situation whereby anti-Semitism, unlike any other form of racism, is defined by the perpetrator and not the victim, as it should be. While some are trying to dampen or criticize the definition, let me make it clear that the only people who should be worried about the legalizing of this definition are anti-Semites.”

Dr. Kantor said that this could be an important first step in making Jews feel safer in Europe.

“The best way for European leaders to commemorate the Holocaust, is not just by talking about the past but by re-committing themselves to a safe future, especially for the Jewish community,” Dr. Kantor said. “I say to the leaders in this room and around Europe: We have been loyal to you. We fought in your armies, we helped create new technologies to make lives better and contributed to culture and society way above what our numbers should dictate. We ask you to show us the same loyalty and determination. “

“We call on you to join with us, European leaders, to demonstrate to future generations of Jews - in word and deed - that there is a future for Jews on this continent. Seventy-two years ago, the Nazis failed in ridding Europe of its most ancient minority, the Jewish People. The greatest commemoration of the Holocaust lies in not giving them a posthumous victory.”

Dr. Kantor also spoke about the new multi-pronged threat of anti-Semitism, involving the far-right, far-left and radical Islamists as a “pincer movement” threat to Jewish existence in Europe and how the memory of the Holocaust is being increasingly used against Jews.

“The Holocaust has been weaponized against Jews and the Jewish State,” Dr. Kantor said. “Either it is denied, rationalized, inverted or justified, with many seeking to undermine its meaning and significance.”

“Anyone who starts a sentence: ‘The Jews of all people should be sensitive to or understand this or that…’ is someone who is weaponizing the Holocaust and this is also a form of denial, no less outrageous than all others.”

Dr. Kantor spoke alongside Antonio Tajani, the newly elected European Parliament President, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

“As we remember, we pledge to never forget all victims and never allow such destruction to occur again. The pledge ‘never again’ must not be a passive gesture,” President Tajani said, at his first official event in his new position. “Today, we see some of the signs that led to Auschwitz, the hatred of the stranger, the scape-goating of the Jew, the jackboots and the swastika-like symbols in the streets and the voices of intolerance in some of our parliaments.”

“We must not be silent in the face of these threats to our European society. We know where this hatred, allowed to fester and develop, may lead. As the number of survivors and witnesses declines, we need to find ways to pass on their experiences and memories to our younger generations. It is our ultimate responsibilities to those who are no more, to those who survived, but most of all to us all.”

Also speaking at the event was Beate Klarsfeld, famed Nazi hunter and UNESCO Honorary Ambassador and Special Envoy for Education about the Holocaust and the Prevention of Genocide.

At the event, the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation bestowed the Medal of Tolerance on Andrei Konchalovsky, Film director, producer and screenwriter, author of “Paradise” for which he is a winner of the Silver Lion for Best Director and considered for a nomination at the 89th Academy Awards 2017.