EJC CEO Raya Kalenova speaking at the event.
EJC CEO Raya Kalenova speaking at the event. Courtesy

The European Jewish Congress (EJC) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) co-hosted an international symposium “Addressing Conspiracy Theories Through Education” in Brussels on Monday.

The event was held in order to strengthen educational responses through advocacy, research and training.

The event was the launch of UNESCO’s advocacy report “Addressing conspiracy theories: what teachers need to know.”

“The report is an introduction for educators, working in and outside of formal schooling, on how to identify, prevent and address conspiracy theories,” EJC said in a statement.

“The fight against conspiracy theories, and the antisemitic and racist ideologies they often convey, begins at school,” UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay said.

“Yet teachers worldwide lack adequate training. That is why, today, UNESCO is launching a practical guide for educators, so they can better teach students how to identify and debunk conspiracy theories.”

Azoulay added: “This builds on the wider work we are doing to strengthen media and information literacy, based upon our new model curriculum.”

Participants in the event included governments, academia, civil society and the private sector for “joint action.”

“When events are seemingly inexplicable, fear, uncertainty, and ignorance drive people to simplistic explanations. Today, with a global pandemic followed by war on the European continent on a scale not seen since World War II, we find ourselves at one such period,” EJC CEO Raya Kalenova said.

“And while the ways in which conspiracy theories spread may have changed, their content remains remarkably similar. Jewish communities have suffered from these conspiracies for generations and know better than most of its terrible effects. In fact, beliefs in a Jewish conspiracy are the most pervasive aspects of antisemitism.”

She continued: “That is why we must mobilize everybody, not only civil society, academia and educators, but also online and social media companies, whose responsibility it is to ensure environments free from hatred and disinformation.”

Among the speakers at the event were Katharina von Schnurbein, European Commission coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life and Nicola Beer, vice president of the European Parliament and special envoy on combating religious discrimination, including antisemitism.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)