How helpful is the new EU strategy to foster European Jewish life?

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How helpful is the new EU strategy to foster European Jewish life?

Learn more about the new European Commission strategy to improve Jewish life in the EU. Will it help to make life easier for Jews in the EU?

The European Commission strategy

For the first time, the European Commission has presented a strategy to combat antisemitism in the EU. The goal of this strategy is both to fight antisemitism and to foster Jewish life in Europe. The strategy comes as a response to increasing antisemitism in Europe in the past years.[1]

The European Commission’s Vice-President, Margaritis Schinas, stated that there is an “increasing and worrying tendency of anti-Semitic attacks and sentiments” in Europe. She added that as a result of the pandemic, there is “a resurgence of centuries-old conspiracy myths fuelling new forms of antisemitism online and an explosion of antisemitic online content.” According to the commission, there was a major increase in antisemitic language and posts on social media in France and Germany.[2] Furthermore, according to the Eurobarometer and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, nine out of ten Jews believe antisemitism has increased in their countries.[3]

The new strategy comprehends three pillars:

  • Preventing and combating
  • Protecting and fostering
  • Educating and researching

Preventing and combating

The commission has set the goal of establishing a network of European trusted fact-checkers – also composed of Jewish organisations. This network will be responsible for removing antisemitic online content and for responding with counter narratives. Moreover, the commission will create cooperations with IT companies and other industries to prevent the selling and display of Nazi objects and books.[4]

Protecting and fostering

The second goal set by the commission is the security of Jewish communities. The European commission will help Jewish communities with the costs of securing their synagogues and public spaces.[5]

Educating and researching

The last goal set by the commission is education. The commission will focus both on research and the remembrance of the Holocaust. It will support the training of teachers and educators to help them address antisemitism in their work. Moreover, the EU will fund a new network of Young European Ambassadors to promote Holocaust remembrance. Finally, it aims to create a network of places ‘where the Holocaust happened’ in Europe. This network will trace “often unknown Jewish heritage sites, hiding places, or deportation points that are all over Europe and that our societies need to know of.” This aims to help students and the general public to “to trace the continuity of Jewish presence in Europe over the centuries.”[6]

Is Jewish life easy in Europe?

Yet, in addition to, and as a result of, apparent antisemitism and clear violence towards Jews, life is becoming more and more difficult for Jews in Europe. This is evident when we relate to two fundamental practices for Jews that are being strongly limited or banned in different places in Europe: the practice of animal slaughtering and circumcision. Earlier EARS articles have shown how in recent years, many countries have been making it more and more difficult for Jews and Muslims to perform these rituals.[7]

In order to foster Jewish life, it is important to allow Jews to practice their traditions and rituals. As for now though, it seems the European commission has not yet given attention to this aspect. It will be interesting to see if it will do so in the future.

Ghila Amati

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[1]European Commission presents first-ever EU strategy on combating antisemitism

[2] Speech by Vice-President Schinas on EU Strategy on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life

[3] Speech by Vice-President Schinas on EU Strategy on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life

[4] Speech by Vice-President Schinas on EU Strategy on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life

[5] Speech by Vice-President Schinas on EU Strategy on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life

[6] Speech by Vice-President Schinas on EU Strategy on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life

[7] See also: Is circumcision an immoral ritual? – www.ears.eu | EARS; What’s behind the reluctance to ban circumcision? – EARS; Are kosher and halal slaughter dying out? – www.ears.eu | EARS;

A harmonious relationship? Angela Merkel and the German Jewish community l EARS; Is there room for Jews and Muslims in Europe?; Banning Muslims from European society? – EARS