The Czech government, which will assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of this year, should act to “put a stop to Europe’s irrational hatred of Jewish people,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said at the Executive Committee meeting of senior Jewish community leaders from around the globe. The meeting concluded Monday evening.
“It is high time for the Council of Europe to establish a permanent working group on combating the hatred of Jews as well as all forms of racism,” Amb. Lauder said.
Addressing the WJC leaders, Czech Deputy Prime Minister Marian Jurečka declared: “We take very seriously the struggle against all forms of hatred. ... Europe has clearly said no to hatred and racism. We don’t want to be spectators. We want to take steps in the field of culture and education. We will make changes so that we are able to face these lies.”
The repercussions of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine on Jewish communities, the crisis in Jewish education and identity, and pernicious attempts to defame Israel as an “apartheid state” were also at the top of the committee’s agenda.
Regarding the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, Amb. Lauder said: “While we have watched in horror the terrible destruction, we have also witnessed with tremendous pride the courage of the Ukrainian people.” Noting his recent visit to Warsaw, he also expressed gratitude to neighboring countries such as Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and Poland, which had “opened up their doors and their hearts to the large stream of refugees fleeing Ukraine.”
The WJC has been directly involved with humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine and supporting refugees in the bordering nations.
During the deliberations, representatives of the Jewish communities of Ukraine thanked the WJC for its humanitarian support of the local Jewish community, stressed that all Ukrainians benefited from the aid, and described communal losses, including the recent bombing of a Jewish cemetery with over 600 tombstones in the Sumy region of northeast Ukraine.
Amb. Lauder also said antisemitism could potentially resurge as a result of the war. The word “antisemitism” should be replaced by the phrase “Jew hatred,” he added, to more accurately reflect the phenomenon. He expressed appreciation for the constructive engagement of the representatives of the organization’s younger leadership programs who took an active part in the meeting, and in whose hands the future of the Jewish people lies.