We need more than ‘never again’ to safeguard Jews in Europe say parliamentarians at #Auschwitz

| January 27, 2020

100 parliamentarians from across Europe – including ministers – who gathered in Auschwitz were urged to concretely tighten and toughen anti-semitism laws in their countries through direct legislation drafted by the Brussels based European Jewish Association (EJA) and the European Action and Protection League (APL).

The two-day delegation – organized by the EJA and the APL, and other partners from across Europe –
takes in a symposium in Krakow and gala dinner on day one, followed by a visit and memorial service to
Auschwitz-Birkenau on day two. It was designed to mark the 75th anniversary of the
liberation of the death camp.

The meetings and gala dinner address the need for increased Holocaust education in Europe as a top
priority, and also include a recommitment from all those present to the shared fight against hatred towards
Jews by enhancing and strengthening national legislation regarding stereotyping and the sale for profit of
nazi memorabilia.

The parliamentarians, made up of ministers, senators, MPs and MEPs from across the political and
national spectrum, heard from Jewish community leaders, holocaust survivors, a former neo-Nazi, and
those who have been directly affected by anti-semitism such as the granddaughter of 85-year-old
Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll, who was murdered in her flat in March 2018.

The head of the EJA, Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, said the best way to honour those who
died during the Holocaust was not by remembrance alone, but by positive and decisive action in stamping
out Antisemitism: “European politicians must do more than statements condemning antisemitic incidents.
This is not enough. They need to do more to insure the future of European Jews. They have to introduce
in their respective countries a draft legislation that we have proposed in order to tighten laws fighting
antisemitism. We need to create or amend existing legislation with regards to combating antisemitism
in the following areas, and under the EU or national framework: stereotyping, education and the sale of
Nazi memorabilia. This is fundamental not only for European Jews but for Europe itself. This is a fight
between good and evil, between light and darkness.’’

Rabbi Shlomo Koves of the Action and Protection League said:”75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, we need to wage a war, not a war with weapons, but a war of ideas. We need the following guidelines:

1. To be united to agree on ideas to fight antisemitism.
2. We have to explore the battlefield, which is different from country to country. Antisemitism is a
virus with many mutations. We have launched the first ever pan-european survey of
antisemitism in 14 European countries and to monitor antisemitic incidents in all European
3. Choose our must effective weapons. Education is the most effective weapon against
antisemitism, especially among teenagers. The Action and Protection League has launched an
initiative for education programs in national textbooks, including Jewish history, the role of
European Jews in the societies and the history of the state of Israel.

Aharon Tamir, deputy chairman of March of the Living, who addressed the symposium, added: “In
recent years, antisemitism has become an epidemic which shows no sign of disappearing. Whilst meetings
between world leaders on the subject are important, now is the time for decisive action. Each
representative who has visited Auschwitz with us, is obliged to make the required changes in their home
country. We have passed the turning point, time to take the necessary steps to combat antisemitism is
running out.”

Wolfgang Sobotka, president of the Austrian National Council, said: “As Austrians, we will not avoid
responsibility. We need not only listen to Holocaust survivors and descendants but also translating the
fight against antisemitism into political action. No compromise is possible in the fight against
antisemitism. According to a survey, unfortunately there are still 10% of the Austrian population with
antisemitic beliefs and 30 percent wit antisemitic perceptions. The Austrian parliament has decided to
increase the commemoration of the Holocaust. We have also decided to create an independent institute
to study antisemitism, anti-judaism and anti-Zionism. We will also award th Simon Wiesenthal in the fight
against antisemitism on national and international level. Demonization of Israel is the new form of
antisemitism. Israel is not treated like any other country.”

Michael O’Flaherty, director of FRA said: “We cannot accept that Jews in Europe continue to be attacked and
that many among them are considering leaving the continent according to one of our surveys on the
perception of antisemitism among European Jews. European states must tackle antisemitism effectively.
All member states must adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism and they need to insure the
protection of Jewish sites. Jewish organisations cannot share alone the financial burden.”

André Gattolin, French senate vice chairman of the European Affairs Committee, said: “Today unfortunately the
situation of antisemitism in France is not joyfull with an increase last year of 75% of antisemitic incidents,
500 incidents and 50 incidents only in the Alsace region. The current social tension in the country is not
helpful. Today, antisemitic discourse comes from both the extreme-left and extreme-right. Hate and
intolerance have no place nor in France nor elsewhere.”

Keren Knoll, granddaughter of Mireille Knoll, Holocaust survivor murdered in 2018 by a Muslim because
she was Jewish: “Unfortunately, Judeophobia didn’t end with WWII. It is still alive. Antisemites live among
us. Hate is still very alive. We need to find people who can share our message.”

Additional partnership for the delegation was provided by from Bnei Brith Europe, the
Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the European March of the Living network and communities and
organizations from across Europe, including Poland, Romania and Belgium.


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