6 Giugno 2024

Riflessioni e suggerimenti di Katharina von Schnurbein sull’antisemitismo post 7 ottobre

‘Bigotry is higher in migrant communities,’ says Europe’s antisemitism tsar
Katharina von Schnurbein said she was concerned about the rising tide of antisemitism in Europe and made an urgent call for action

The EU official in charge of combatting antisemitism in Europe has said that it poses an existential threat to European democracy and expressed her concern about the bigotry in some migrant communities.

Katharina von Schnurbein told the European Jewish Association this week: “your struggle is our struggle.” The antisemitism tsar told community leaders she would do everything in her power to rid Europe of antisemitism.

Appointed European Commission coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life in 2015, the continent’s equivalent of Britain’s Lord Mann later told the JC that the antisemitism harboured by some migrant communities “needs addressing”.

Von Schurbein also said she has been “a lot busier since October 7”.

War in Gaza has ignited antisemitism across Europe, she said. In France, a synagogue was firebombed in May and antisemitic incidents almost quadrupled between 2022 and 2023. In the Netherlands, there were protests at the opening of a new Holocaust Museum, while in Poland, anti-Israel activists demonstrated outside Auschwitz. Synagogues have been sent bomb threats, Jews have been attacked, and antisemitic slogans have been daubed across European streets.

Although Von Schnurbein pointed out that “within migrant communities, antisemitic prejudice can be higher”, the German civil servant said she did not want to “blame” immigration for bigotry.

“Antisemitism has been in EU countries long before mass migration,” she said. “The Holocaust happened in the EU and it was not [committed by] Muslims.

“Jewish life is part of the EU’s DNA, it is part of European history,” she added, saying she wanted to “show what Jewish life has meant in Europe for thousands of years”.

Antisemitism is a threat to democracy, she went on. “The EU can only prosper if its Jewish communities prosper too,” she said. “We need to fight antisemitism in its own right because it is an evil, but also because it poses a threat to our democracies and our societies.”

The antisemitism tsar believes that EU governments’ have an increased “awareness of antisemitism” and is optimistic that many have adopted her recommendations.

“For the first time in this continent in two millennia of antisemitism, the will to fight antisemitism and create a positive agenda to really foster Jewish life is there,” she said. Out of 96 motions put forward to EU countries by von Schnurbein in 2021, 70 are already in place.

“There has been some progress from EU governments, with more training for the police and teachers, and increased funding invested in civil society action.”

Von Schnurbein noted that the German government made the “positive” step of banning the slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

When asked if other EU countries should follow suit, she said the slogan is antisemitic but steered away from recommending how member states enforce the law: “If you look at the IHRA definition, it clearly sits within the definition, but it is up to the member state to

decide what the law is applied,” she said.

The politician said that while governments were supportive of her recommendations to fight antisemitism, some large chunks of society still have a huge issue of Jew hate. “With regard to [supporting] Jewish life and fighting against antisemitism, there is large support from governments, but now it needs to permeate into the whole of society.”

Jew hate in Europe is pervasive, she continued. “Antisemitism never goes away. We saw it rear its head over the Ukraine war and during Covid with conspiracy theories. The antisemitism spiral is continuing and is more overt now. A lot of it has to do with an online perpetuation of antisemitic content.”

Von Schnurbein is keen to see changes from social media companies that ensure “algorithms are not being used in a way that hatred is perpetuated […] We see that antisemitism goes from online to the streets.”

She has set about establishing a system to record all incidents of Jewish hate crimes across the EU: “We need to make antisemitism visible in order to fight it.”

“Member states are working on a joint methodology to record antisemitism, not only illegal incidents but ones that are not illegal, the ones that create an unpleasant environment for Jewish people.”

She added that the EU had been in dialogue with the CST about best practice, “the CST has always recorded data, this inspired us.”

“In the UK there are already a lot of positive structures in place […] We used the methodology of the CST. We have had a long cooperation with the CST and had many conversations with them when they were still at the table [pre-Brexit].”

The EJA conference this week unanimously passed a motion which called on Europe’s governments to be tougher in prosecuting antisemitism. The statement urged all European governments to appoint a dedicated figure to deal with antisemitism and pursue “much tougher responses to antisemitic incidents, and establish a fast-track procedure towards prosecution”.

The motion called on authorities to adopt “a zero-tolerance attitude towards violent and/or intimidatory protests to include terrorist organisation banners, flags or insignia” and demanded European parliaments “enshrine in law the principles of the IRHA, and establish the legal means to prosecute those in breach of those principles”.

Alert to the rising threat of antisemitism, EJA chair Rabbi Menachem Margolin told the summit that the association will roll out Krav Maga training across Europe “because Jews already need to defend themselves.”

Photo Credits: www.thejc.com