European Jews Call on OSCE to Adopt International Definition of Anti-Semitism

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The European Jewish Congress (EJC) called on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Monday to adopt the international definition of anti-Semitism.

EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor called on the OSCE member states to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which has already been officially adopted by the UK, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria and Austria.

Kantor spoke at the OSCE International Conference on the Responsibility of States, Institutions and Individuals in the Fight against Anti-Semitism in the OSCE Area, held Monday in Rome. The conference was held on the 80th anniversary of the racial laws that were promulgated in Italy in 1938, and ahead of Italy assuming the Presidency of the IHRA. Among the participants at the conference were high-level government delegations and independent institutions, as well as representatives of civil society. Israel’s Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau also attended the conference in his role as Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council.

The conference was opened by the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger and the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir.

Kantor asked the membership to prioritize “the adoption by the OSCE of the working definition of anti-Semitism; amending national legislation based on the adopted definition and bringing national enforcement practices in line with the general definition.”

He made it clear these actions are needed for European Jewry to feel safer on the continent.

“On the Jewish street, the search for solutions is constant, but they often result in the pessimistic dilemma of staying in Europe and living with the challenges of antisemitism or finding a safer place elsewhere,” Kantor said.

“Anti-Semitism is not only a Jewish problem, it concerns all European citizens. Extremist ideologies start by threatening Jews, but are in fact a challenge to society as a whole. We have to move fast and not wait for a new catastrophe,” he said.

Kantor also presented two awards during the event: the first was a Jerusalem Navigator award to the Italian Foreign Minister Alfano for “fighting against all forms of anti-Semitism, including anti-Zionism, which represents the most hateful and creeping form of anti-Semitism.” The second was a Golden Vision award to Ambassador Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, for “devoting his life to the flourishing of Judaism, helping Jews reconnect with their roots and helping rebuild Jewish communities across the world.”

The conference was held in cooperation with the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation (CDEC) and the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI).

The European Jewish Congress is the democratically-elected representative organisation of European Jewry, uniting 42 European Jewish communities.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is an inter-governmental organization of 57 participating states from Europe, Asia and North America. It addresses a wide range of security-related issues, including arms control, human rights, national minorities, policing strategies and counter-terrorism.