Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), on Sunday called for a full recognition to the severity of anti-Semitism and to 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, was opened by Heinz Engl, Rector of the University of Vienna, Dr. Kantor, who is a co-sponsor 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 anti-Semitism. Because talking about anti-Semitism 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,” said Kantor.
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,” he 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 cannot 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,” continued Kantor.
Among the other speakers at the five-day conference are renowned political, academic and religious decision-makers and opinion-shapers, including: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, former Chancellor and Chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Austria Christian Kern; French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy; Audrey Azoulay, Director-general of UNESCO, Katharina von Schnurbein, European Coordinator on Combating Anti-Semitism; Nathan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency; 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.