EU: Goal is to ensure Jews live free of fear in Europe

European Union coordinator for combating anti-Semitism, Katharina von Schnurbein, briefed Israel’s parliament and expressed her goal of guaranteeing that all Jews in Europe will be able to live without fear.

The European Union’s (EU) coordinator for combating anti-Semitism, Katharina von Schnurbein, briefed the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs this week about the EU’s efforts to combat anti-Semitism.

“The goal of all this activity is that Jews will be able to live in Europe without fear,” she said. She said that the situation whereby “Jews send their children to schools behind barbed wire fences or send them to public schools without knowing whether they will be exposed to incitement” is “unacceptable.”

The fact that there are security guards posted outside synagogues “is also unacceptable,” she said. “We are convinced that it is the responsibility of society as a whole to combat anti-Semitism.”

Von Schnurbein said the general increase in anti-Semitic incidents throughout Europe and the “atmosphere of hatred,” particularly online, are very worrying.

She said that since her appointment in December, the EU’s activity against anti-Semitism has included dialogue with the major Internet companies — Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft — which brought about the formation of the Code of Conduct. Under the code, the online giants pledged to fund organizations that would help them monitor the situation and train people who will report any inciting content online.

Committee Chairman Member of Knesset (MK) Avraham Neguise thanked von Schnurbein for legislation, which he said would allow social media companies to “remove hate speech inciting to violence within 24 hours,” which is “a correct and important step, the fruits of which I hope we will see immediately.”

Neguise told the meeting, which was also attended by EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen, of a survey conducted ahead of the meeting among rabbis and Jewish community leaders in Europe. The survey, commissioned by the European Jewish Association and the Rabbinical Center of Europe, indicates that anti-Semitism is intensifying in Western European countries, but pointed out that the involvement of Muslim refugees in anti-Semitic incidents is marginal. The same survey showed that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Eastern Europe is decreasing.

“We are currently monitoring the process to see if there really is a change. We want to see a real change on the ground,” von Schnurbein said. “Today, only 13 of the 28 member states properly apply the [Code of Conduct] law . . . We are pressuring them to implement it.”

NGO Monitor President Gerald M. Steinberg spoke of the “new anti-Semitism” and said the rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents and terror attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions “is directly linked to the incitement we hear about every day in Europe and the world. It is obvious that phrases such as ‘war crimes,’ ‘genocide,’ ‘violation of international law,’ ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘apartheid’ — which are said repeatedly in reference to Israel — feed this anti-Semitism.”

Ido Daniel, Program Director at Israeli Students Combating Anti-Semitism, pointed out that in 2014 the organization filed some 14,000 complaints with new media companies regarding anti-Semitic content online, and in 2015 the number of complaints rose to about 29,000. The trend is continuing in 2016, and the organization expects to file over 30,000 complaints by the end of the year, he told the committee.

“The social networks allow many people to disseminate inciting messages which are then translated into physical acts against Jews,” said Daniel, who noted that Jewish students from Brussels told him that they conceal their real last names on Facebook to avoid receiving hateful and insulting messages.

By: JNI.Media and World Israel News Staff