The European Jewish Association (EJA) organised an event on 20 January 2020 in Krakow to commemorate 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp. The Director spoke during a panel on antisemitism today. FRA’s participation to this event is of symbolic value, and a means to reaffirm its commitment to combating antisemitism.CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Excellencies, honourable parliamentarians, dear Rabbis, ladies and gentlemen
Once again, we gather to commemorate the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp, to honour and to remember its victims, the victims of the Holocaust.
The Holocaust is the darkest chapter in Europe’s history, but it is very troubling to see that its memory is fading today. With this, there is a risk that Never Again becomes a hollow phrase. We simply cannot let this happen.
We can not let it pass that Jewish people in Europe continue facing streams of vile abuse, on the streets and online.
We cannot let it pass that many Jewish people in the EU are considering emigrating because they do not feel safe as Jews in their own countries.
We cannot let it pass that Jewish places of worship and cultural sites have to be protected by heavily armed guards.
Yet, these are some of the deeply worrying findings of last year’s survey by my own Agency on the daily experiences of Jewish people across the EU.
These findings show that antisemitic hate speech, harassment and violence, the fear of merely being recognised as a Jew are part of the reality for Jewish people live in across Europe today.
Like everyone else, Jewish people have a right to live in dignity, free from hate and without fear for their safety. We all have a duty to make this a reality, States need to take urgent and immediate action to support Jewish communities to tackle to antisemitism effectively and lastingly.
In doing so, States need to work closely with a broad range of stakeholders, including in particuler Jewish communities and civil society organisations.
This includes strengthening Holocaust education and awareness raising activities; keeping Jewish communities and sites safe; and, regularly and systematically monitoring antisemitic incidents including through applying the working definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
This definition provides us with useful guidance to identify antisemitism. And it is encouraging that all Member States of the European Union committed themselves to endorsing this definition.
Another important thing we all need to do, is to celebrate Jewish life, to acknowledge the immense contribution of Judaism to Europe. We need to recognise that Jews are an integral part of the fabric of the European Union and Jewish culture enriches us all.
In closing, let me highlight three concrete steps that authorities can take to combat antisemitism.
First of all, it is not enough to fight antisemitism, we must also prevent it. Holocaust education in schools, but also training of public officisls are prevention measures that raise awareness of what constitutes antisemitism and what its impact is on Jewish people and their communities, and, of course, systematic evaluation of the effectiveness of prevention measures needs to be built into their development.
Second, but equally important is the security and protection of Jewish sites, community buildings and schools. Authorities need to work closely with Jewish communities to ensure that they meet their needs. This includes ensuring that Jewish security organisations receive appropriate funding. Jewish communities cannot and should not be asked to use any portions of their own funds for their security. The State has a duty to protect all its citizens.
Third, law enforcement must find ways to encourage victims of antisemitism to report incidents to the authorities. This will send a strong message that the State acknowledges the seriousness of antisemitism and that it stands by the Jewish communities.
In finishing, I reiterate the unwavering commitment of the Fundamental Rights Agency to work closely together with the institutions of the European Union, international organisations, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and Jewish communities to combat antisemitism in all its forms.
The stakes could not be higher: if Europe fails its Jewish community, then the European project will have failed.
Thank you very much.