First, I want to express my appreciation to the organizer of this conference. She is not in the room as she is taking care of some important business, but I ask you kindly to applaud her because she alone did a tremendous job.
Seventy years have passed since World War II and, unfortunately, the world’s values and priorities have changed. Again, we see commercial motives overshadowing humanitarian values. For example, many of us are more concerned by the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than by xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism. That is completely unacceptable. We know from history that this is the beginning of dramatic changes to the public mentality. Every time that something like this has happened in history, it has been the beginning of a tragedy, the beginning of World War I and World War II.
The Chinese built their Great Wall over a thousand years. Why? There was only one reason for the useless construction – unification of the nation. I think our mega projects should have the same goal – unification of the Diaspora, unification of the Diaspora and the State of Israel, unification of the Jewish and non-Jewish streets. My colleagues Richard Prasquier and Henry Grunwald just spoke about this. I completely agree with them. This is a very important goal and I ask you to give thought to this. This year is very important.
First of all, this year is the year of the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I, which resulted in a depression in Germany. Later this depression caused the Holocaust. In 1922, an unknown artist named Adolf Schiklgruber wrote the roadmap to the Holocaust, called Mein Kampf. We all know what happened next.
Second, this year is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human rights. Third, this year marks 70 years since die Kristallnacht . Let us use this Jewish wall, this dramatic and fundamental tragedy, to fight against xenophobia and anti-Semitism in the world. Half of Europeans believe that xenophobia is not a bad thing. They already have the disease. For example, in Russia we have almost 100,000 skinheads and neo-Nazis. According to some statistics, in Russia 50% of the population has the xenophobia disease. I think this can be extrapolated to all of Europe. This is a very important thing.
That is why we are obliged to use our mega events to emphasize our intention to fight these evils. However, should we stick to declarations and keep talking about analysis without any synthesis? Of course not.
We want to organize a die Kristallnacht commemoration this year in Strasbourg, the capital of Europe under the patronage of the European Union and the Council of Europe, with the full participation of the World Jewish Congress, the European Jewish Congress, and governments and NGOs of the world. We have already succeeded in obtaining the patronage and support of many participants.
What is the product we expect to have on the table afterwards? We are going to present, as the European Jewish Congress has member states in the Council of Europe, a Convention on Tolerance in Europe. Historically, this is only fair. Seventy-two years ago, the Nuremberg Laws were issued, the notorious laws of intolerance. Now we will enact laws of tolerance.
This convention will include four blocks:
1. We should establish common legislation in Europe. That means that not only the concentration of carbon dioxide, but also xenophobia, anti-Semitism, racism and extremism will be considered dangerous. And these laws must be calculated very precisely. We must learn how to do it.
2. A White Book of Europe should be printed and published showing all the indices of tolerance. According to the Declaration of Human Rights, we are obliged to support those who work for tolerance. We have to make promises to the countries with better tolerance scores.
3. This book should be printed, published and edited not by Jews but by an international council of prominent, respected people. I am happy to report to you that the European Jewish Congress has already succeeded in obtaining the acceptance of Aleksander Kwasniewski to head this council.
4. We have to propose a model of national legislation to be adopted later by each country.
Finally, I want to issue two invitations. Welcome to Jerusalem this May to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. And all of you will be very much welcome in Strasbourg this November.