European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor called on Europe’s leaders to adopt a working legal definition of antisemitism amid growing threats and incidents facing the continent’s Jewish community.
In May 2016, the Berlin-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance adopted an official legal definition of antisemitism as a “certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” In December, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said her government would officially adopt that definition amid an uptick in antisemitic attacks.
“I urge all European governments to follow the British government’s lead and adopt this definition,” Kantor said at an International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the European Parliament in Brussels. “The reason this is so essential is because for the first time it tells antisemites, ‘Your words and actions are illegal.’”
“Currently, in most of Europe, we have an absurd situation whereby antisemitism, unlike any other form of racism, is defined by the perpetrator and not the victim, as it should be,” he said.
The best way for European leaders to commemorate the Holocaust, added Kantor, “is not just by talking about the past but by re-committing themselves to a safe future, especially for the Jewish community. I say to the leaders in this room and around Europe. We have been loyal to you. We fought in your armies, we helped create new technologies to make our lives better and contributed to culture and society way above our numbers should dictate. We ask you to show us the same loyalty and determination.”