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Anti-semitism

European Parliament passes resolutions condemning Palestinian failure to stop hate in school textbooks

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The resolutions were adopted as amendments by the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control by MEPs across the EU political spectrum including members of the three largest political groups, the Center-Right European People’s Party (EPP), the left leaning Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the liberal Renew Europe (RE) party. The resolutions were passed by over 60% majority of the European Parliament, writes  

The European Parliament passed three resolutions which condemn the Palestinian Authority (PA) for continuing to teach hate and violence in its school textbooks and which oppose European Union aid to the PA being used for this purpose.

The legislation notes that problematic material in Palestinian school textbooks has still not been removed, points to the continued failure to act effectively against hate speech and violence in Palestinian textbooks. It calls on the European Commission to ensure that salaries of teachers and education sector civil servants financed by the European Union are used to teach curricula that reflect UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence and non-violence.

The resolutions were adopted as amendments by the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control by MEPs across the EU political spectrum including members of the three largest political groups, the Center-Right European People’s Party (EPP), the left leaning Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the liberal Renew Europe (RE) party. The resolutions were passed by over 60% majority of the EU Parliament.

One of the resolutions relates particularly to Palestinian school textbooks and to the PEGASE fund, the main source of EU funding to the Palestinian Authority’s Education Ministry, which is responsible for drafting, writing, teaching and implementing the new PA curriculum.

German MEP Niclas Herbst of the European People’s Party stressed that ‘’EU funds should be spent on peace and mutual understanding. Paying teachers to teach Antisemitism and incitement to violence through Palestinian schoolbooks should never be subsidised by EU-money. The result of votes today is a strong signal on this regard.’’

Impact-se CEO Marcus Sheff: "This parliament, which oversees the spending of the European Commission, is clearly exasperated by the continued payment of massive grants to the Palestinian educational sector, which is then promptly turned into one of the most hate-filled, violent and extreme curricula worldwide."

Romanian MEP Christian Ghinea of Renew Europe insisted that ‘’no funds should be used for drafting and teaching curricula which includes support for intolerance. I believe that, under no circumstances, should European money contribute, even indirectly, to encouraging a logic of violence.’’

Swedish MEP Charlie Weimer of the European Conservatives and Reformists Party said: "Terrorism, extremism and hate can never be the answer and should under no circumstances ever be funded by EU taxpayers." He added: "I fully welcome that the European Parliament voted in favor of keeping the strong language stating that incitement and support for terrorism in Palestinian schoolbooks is unacceptable. Peace needs to be promoted in the Palestinian curricula as to achieve a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

IMPACT-se, a Jerusalem-based watchdog that monitors peace and cultural tolerance in school education, initiated the resolutions and adoption of these measures, keeping the Palestinian curriculum a hot-button issue in the European Union Commission and Parliament.

Marcus Sheff, CEO of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), noted that EU officials told the group that its report on Palestinian curriculum will be classified. ‘’There now must be a moment of truth for the European Union. Will it continue to ignore the parliament that oversees its spending? Will the Commission now publicly release the freshly- minted report on the Palestinian Authority’s textbooks? Governments, legislators and over a million Palestinian children know what’s in the textbooks. Classifying the report is senseless and frankly, seems highly suspicious,’’ he said.

Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the American Jewish Committee Transatlantic Institute, praised the European Parliament for condemning the Palestinian Authority’s failure to act against incitement in text books. ”By putting both Ramallah and the EU Commission on notice, lawmakers took a clear stand against EU funds being misused to poison the minds of young Palestinians. Palestinian incitement remains one of the main obstacles to a negotiated two-solution with Israel.”

Anti-semitism

Commission vice president confirms: EU to present comprehensive strategy to prevent and combat antisemitism later this year

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Promoting our European Way of Life European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas (pictured), has confirmed this week that the European Union would adopt later this year a comprehensive strategy that will complement and support member states’ effort on preventing and combating antisemitism, educating on the Holocaust remembrance and fostering Jewish life in Europe, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.

Together with Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Schinas opened an high-Level Conference 'Protection from racial discrimination and related intolerance' hosted by Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Co-operation of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU Francisco André.

In a panel discussion, Katharina von Schnurbein, uropean Commission’s coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life, addressed the issue of 'Countering hate speech: the role of human rights education, history teaching and the media in countering it online and offline'.

She stressed the need to find new ways of teaching about the Shoah in a multi-cultural, digital society and for all actors to work together – European legislation, national enforcement, platforms and users – to address hate speech, including Holocaust denial and distortion online.

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Anti-semitism

Spanish group fighting antisemitism launches campaign against anti-Semitic parties and presidential candidate in Madrid’s upcoming regional election

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Ahead of the regional elections in Madrid, ACOM, the leading organization in the fight against anti-Semitism in Spain, has called voters ‘’to voice their opposition to  antisemitic far-Left parties Unidad Podemos and Mas Madrid, as well as to presidential candidate Pablo Iglesias,” writes Yossi Lempkowicz.

The regional election in Madrid, scheduled to take place on May 4th, will elect the regional parliament, known as the Assembly of the Community of Madrid, and the regional government of six million citizens, including the largest Jewish community of Spain.

ACOM (acronym for Action and Communication on the Middle East) noted that Pablo Iglesias (pictured), until recently Spain’s radical Left deputy Prime Minister, leader of Unidas Podemos, who quit his position to run for the position of Madrilenian President, ‘’has a history of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements.’’ These statements include that “the great Wall Street companies are practically all in the hands of Jews”, “the Jewish lobby supports initiatives against the peoples of the world”, “the Holocaust was a mere bureaucratic problem”, “Israel is a criminal state” and “an illegal country”. He also worked for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s propaganda mouthpiece to the Spanish-speaking world Hispan TV.

“That the people of Madrid could elect a paid-propagandist of Iran who is an open anti-Semite should be unfathomable,” said ACOM President, Angel Mas.

“Voting for Iglesias and these two parties is voting for the discrimination of Jews and ostracization of Jewish life and the community in a city which is rebuilding itself after 500 years. Normalized Jewish life is at risk in these elections. We call on our neighbors who care about decency, non-discrimination and democracy to oppose these parties and those who provide them legitimacy by sitting in a government with them,” he said.

Mas mentioned that Podemos and Mas Madrid have tried to approve a motion in the Madrid parliament for the region to formally join the international anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment, Snctions) campaign ‘’as they successfully did in around 100 Spanish cities and regions.’’

"That would have made Madrid, the capital region of Spain and center of Spain’s social, political and economic relations, a ghetto that would have excluded the citizens of the Jewish state and any pro-Israel Spanish citizens from any type of commercial, social, cultural or civic relationship with the regional administration."

ACOM has so far successfully defeated Podemos BDS campaign across the country with over 70 court rulings declaring the pro-BDS resolutions discriminatory and unconstitutional.

According to a recent poll, Spain’s centre-right Popular Party (Partido Popular) looks set to comfortably win the  regional election.

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Anti-semitism

Austria presents its ‘comprehensive national strategy to prevent and combat all forms of antisemitism’

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Austrian European Affairs  Minister Karoline Edtstadler (pictured) stressed Austria’s responsibility to fight anti-Semitism regardless of whether it comes from the far right, leftists, immigrants or anybody else, writes .

The strategy presented is based on six pillars: education, security, law enforcement, integration, documentation and civil society.

The Austrian government presented on 21 January its strategy to fight anti-Semitism which includes enhanced protection of synagogues, improved education about Judaism and stricter prosecution of hate crimes against Jews.

Austrian European Affairs  Minister Karoline Edtstadler stressed Austria’s responsibility to fight anti-Semitism regardless of whether it comes from the far right, leftists, immigrants or anybody else.

The new measures intend to battle anti-Semitism in all its forms and wherever it expresses itself — from online chat groups to hate speech in corner bars or expressions of hatred against Jews at public protests such as the current rallies against coronavirus regulations, Edtstadler said.

During the Austrian Council Presidency in 2018, the EU Interior Ministers adopted a joint declaration against anti-Semitism which, among other things, obliged states to develop national strategies. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called for a European declaration to ensure a clear and unambiguous position against anti-Semitism.

The strategy presented is based on six pillars: education, security, law enforcement, integration, documentation and civil society. A total of 38 concrete measures were announced, such as the creation of a separate documentation center for anti-Semitic incidents and a new staff unit for coordinating the fight against anti-Semitism. Austrian also wants to work more closely at the European level, for example by making data on incidents comparable, as the EU declaration also called for.

This strategy is “a milestone in the fight against anti-Semitism”, said the Karoline Edtstadler during the presentation. “We have to protect Jewish life and make it visible. May it succeed.”

At the same press conference, Oskar Deutsch, President of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien, the Jewish community of Vienna, thanked the minister for her work. “The best answer to anti-Semitism is Jewish life,” he said. ‘’But the political plans now have to be filled with life,’’ he added.

Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Commission’s Coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life, praised the Austrian strategy announcement and welcomed the fact that the Austrian documentation center will ensure that data material that is comparable across Europe is collected.

The strategy is “ambitious”, said von Schnurbein.

Anti-Semitic incidents are rising across Europe, including Austria. During Corona demonstrations one can see banners with anti-Semitic symbols. Last August, the president of the  Jewish community of Graz survived an attack. The anti-Semitic background to the terrorist attack in Vienna in November has not yet been officially confirmed, but the perpetrator’s early shots were aimed at the Jewish city synagogue. This is probably one of the reasons why the Austrian government is tripling its investments in protecting Jewish institutions to four million euros.

“Jews are always the first ones who are affected by discrimination,” Deutsch warned, adding that the fight against anti-Semitism needs to be an effort by the whole of society, not just the Jewish community.

In 2019, Austria recorded 550 anti-Semitic incidents, Edtstadler said.

“That is twice as much as five years ago,” she added

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