Presentation of the Model National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance
In October 2012 ECTR Co-Chairman Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor introduced ECTR’s proposals for a general law of tolerance, which was presented at an official ceremony in the presence of European Parliament President Martin Schulz, as well as the two recipients of the European Medal of Tolerance.
Expanding on the Model Law for Promotion of Tolerance, a version of which it seeks to make mandatory across all 27 member states, Chair of the Task Force in charge of its inception Yoram Dinstein said that “tolerance is the glue that cements together the bond between distinct groups in a single society”.
“Tolerance is very easy to approve of abstractly, the problem arises when you move to practically applying it to the issues of the here and now in society,” he added, explaining that no European Union treaty currently exists on the subject, due to our rapidly evolving notions of tolerance. “Views considered tolerant ten years ago are no thought as such today and vice versa,” he said.
Admitting that the proposed law was subject to negotiation of individual member states who would have to reconcile it with their national legislators, he argued that “now the EU has received the Novel Peace Prize, it must understand that without tolerance, there will always be conflict.”
A common point of reference was needed by member states, in order to establish the distinction between tolerance and its limitations, he added. The exceptions to tolerant thought and speech range from female circumcision to Burka wearing, according to the draft, which it argued provided an obstacle to crime prevention.
Another potential tolerance minefield arises from the issue of migration, he suggested. “Migrants are entitled to tolerance by society as much as anyone else, but they have a duty to integrate into their adopted society - if they’re not prepared to do so, they should be forced to leave, subject to a legal process,” he continued, adding that “integration does not mean assimilation”.
“The future of the EU is very much inter-connected to migration,” interjected Kwasniewski. “We cannot support an ageing demography without migration. Tolerance would help us in coping with inevitable migration, which is the future of a multi-cultural EU.”
“Multiu-culturalism doesn’t mean razing the culture of your adopted country, or displacing it,” reasoned Dinstein. “You can’t establish a country within a country, a migrant group within a group.”
“A dedicated centre must be established to provide migrants with a transitional period to integrate into their adopted country,” added Kantor.
The definition of tolerance itself needs to established, asserted Dinstein. Whilst current definitions of tolerance would preclude racism and religious-based bigotry, anti-Semitism must be individually stated as a separate definition, “as unlike Christianity and Islam, it’s not necessarily based on religion, but lineage and ethnic heritage,” he said, evoking Nazi definitions of what constitutes a Jew.
“Holocaust denial should be a crime,” he continued, as should “denial of any genocide which has been ruled on by an international court”.