European Jewish Congress Proposes Anti-Racism Symposium To European Commissioner Jacques Barrot

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(Brussels) – A delegation of representatives from the European Jewish Congress (EJC) met with Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Justice Freedom and Security, and Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament, to discuss initiatives to combat racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia in hopes of reinforcing intercultural dialogue.

The EJC, the umbrella organisation for Jewish communities in Europe, suggested that Vice-President Barrot sponsor a one-day symposium based on the theme of combating racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Europe, where community and religious leaders, MEPs and experts meet to discuss how communities and minorities live together.

Vice-President Barrot welcomed the proposal and renewed his commitment to fighting all forms of intolerance, including anti-Semitism. Presented also with a report on the recurrence of significantly heightened anti-Semitism in Europe during the conflict in Gaza, Barrot stressed the need to stamp out anti-Semitic acts and bring the perpetrators of these acts to justice. The EJC delegation was encouraged by Vice-President Barrot’s declaration that he would soon make a public statement denouncing racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism.

President of the EJC, Dr. Moshe Kantor said, “This symposium can be an important opportunity to discuss racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Europe as well as co-existence of minorities and communities. We are all Europeans, regardless of religion, and we need to live in peace and harmony as a productive and tolerant community of nations.”

The EJC also thanked Barrot for his tireless efforts in passing the Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia, a process that took over seven years.

The recent, significant rise in anti-Semitism in Europe was also on the meeting agenda with European Parliament President Pöttering. The EJC proposed that Pöttering meet with the Presidents of all major political Parliamentary groups, seeking to obtain a resolution clearly condemning all acts of anti-Semitism.

Kantor believes that it is essential for the resolution to be emphatic in its condemnation of anti-Semitism. “We propose that this resolution should only make reference to anti-Semitism, rejecting the idea that these attacks are part of ‘inter-communal’ violence,” said Kantor.

The organisation felt it was important to meet with the European Parliament President on this issue as Pöttering, on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day (27 January 2009), sent a letter to EJC President Kantor where he rejected all forms of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. The EJC wanted to thank President Pöttering for his show of support and call on him to help implement the resolution against anti-Semitism.