The wave of violent anti-Jewish pogroms on 9 November 1938 – the so-called ‘Kristallnacht’ – is a poignant reminder of why Europe needs to eliminate once and for all the persistent antisemitism that pervades society. Antisemitism makes many Jews question why remain in Europe. If Europe fails its Jewish community, the modern European project will have failed.
In FRA’s survey of Jews in 12 EU Member States, 85% believe that antisemitism has increased in their country over the last five years. Almost 40% have considered emigrating because they did not feel safe as Jews.
In a separate EU-wide Eurobarometer survey, half of the respondents say that antisemitism is a problem in their country.
A further worry is how antisemitic conspiracy theories and disinformation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic are fuelling hate speech online. People are blaming Jews for creating and spreading the virus. Some even claim Jews use the pandemic for profit.
This serves to underline the clear need to tackle hate speech and hate crime towards Jews.
The EU, its Member States, educational practitioners and civil society organisations need to work together to combat the phenomenon.
Fundamental rights promotion and wider educational efforts play a pivotal role in this.
At a time when COVID-19 is robbing us of many older people, including Holocaust survivors, we run the risk of accelerated memory loss about the Holocaust.
Holocaust and human rights education is crucial. It can teach younger generations about citizenship and remembrance by drawing on lessons from history.
It can also promote the values enshrined in the EU Charter for Fundamental Rights, including freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination.
This learning process is vital for fostering a fundamental rights culture in the EU. It is also vital for eradicating antisemitism, and for honouring and safeguarding the Jewish communities that have long been a vibrant part of European society.