Clear political leadership, awareness raising and education of future generations are crucial to combating anti-Semitism

13/04/2007
On Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day, on 16 April 2007, the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency is organizing a video conference with Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust authority, to emphasize the role of education in combating anti-Semitism and racial hatred.

Beate Winkler, FRA Interim Director: "The lessons of the Shoah remain relevant today and for future generations. Education against racial hatred and intolerance and for mutual respect is crucial to avoid a repeat of this break in civilisation. Today's youth are tomorrow's leaders and opinion makers. It is therefore vital that they understand fully what the Shoah means and how that experience can help shape a more tolerant society. One in which respect for diversity and protection of minorities is an integral part of our democracies."

FRA together with Yad Vashem will bring together a group of Austrian pupils to speak, via video conference, with holocaust survivors in Israel. The Holocaust survivors give testimony about their lives during the Nazi terror: Without past you do not have a future. The pupils will also learn about current educational initiatives to combat anti-Semitism and racism.

Beate Winkler: "I support very strongly this initiative with Yad Vashem and it demonstrates one of the tasks of the new Agency to raise awareness and teach the values associated with fundamental rights. Only in remembering and learning from the past can we hope to secure the future. We must learn and pass on these wider lessons about the dangers of racism and about stereotyping people on the basis of ethnic origin, race or religion."

"Schools can teach against the evils of anti-Semitism to ensure that never again can it gain a foothold. There are a variety of educational initiatives and tools available which provide valuable support to teachers and educationalists. These require wider distribution and use across the EU. I believe that FRA can play a role in drawing greater attention to them."

Beate Winkler concluded: "In order to combat anti-Semitism and racism we need a very strong and clear political leadership. Therefore, I welcome the proposed EU Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia, which draws also attention to the transnational dimension of racist acts and the corresponding need for a response at European level. This proposed EU legislation would ensure that, throughout the European Union, racist and xenophobic acts are punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties. FRA calls on EU governments to adopt this proposed EU legislation, which would make illegal, among others, public incitement to racist violence and hatred."

In order to provide policy makers with a firm basis for anti-racist policies, FRA collects data and information on racist crime, anti-Semitism, and discrimination across the EU. The available data indicate an increase in anti-Semitic activity in some EU Member States over the past years, with incidents ranging from hate mail to arson.