European Jewish Congress
The European Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism hears young Jewish voices
EJC In Action
The European Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism hears young Jewish voices

The European Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism (WGAS) held a meeting on November 16, 2016 under the chairmanship of MEP Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar (S&D, Spain). The EJC acts as the Secretariat and is a member of the Advisory Board of the WGAS.

The theme of the discussion was 'Youth Voices: Challenges, Opportunities and an Uncertain Future’.

Benjamin Fischer, President of the European Union of Jewish Students, Josh Seitler, President of the Union of Jewish Students of the UK and Ireland, and Nethanel Cohen-Selal, representing the French Union of Jewish Students shared with Members of the European Parliament and other participants their experiences as young Jewish leaders as well as their expectations and concerns in light of the rising antisemitism and anti-Zionism in schools and university campuses across Europe.

MEP Miltiadis Kyrkos (S&D, Greece) delivered an opening address in which he gave an overview of antisemitic incidents that were recorded in the EU member states in the last six months. He explained that antisemitic acts are not reported in various countries due to a number of reasons, including the lack of trust in national authorities and law enforcement agencies and lack of proper reporting tools. MEP Kyrkos called for the adoption of a working definition of antisemitism and for efficient recording and law enforcement measures throughout the EU.

MEP Kyrkos stressed that antisemitism is very much alive in schools and universities across Europe, these sacred places where students are supposed to be taught about tolerance and respect.  

With regard to antisemitic hate-speech online, MEP Kyrkos commended the Code of Conduct agreed between the European Commission and major IT companies, but urged MEPs to put pressure on the Commission to follow up on it and make sure the agreed steps are implemented. He urged member states to be vigilant in the fight against antisemitism and raise efforts not only to stop social exclusion but also to combat the rising of extremism across Europe.

The invited speakers detailed on how student activism works in their respective countries and organisations, and gave an overview of the projects they carry out in order to fight discrimination, ignorance, deception (in particular with regard to the BDS movement) and impunity. In their activities a great value is placed on cross-community work and building up coalitions, thus enabling Jewish students to speak out not only for the Jewish community, but also for other minorities and for the society as a whole.

Following their address, all three speakers had an active exchange with MEPs where they provided examples of how they personally encountered or observed antisemitism and voiced their concerns.

In her intervention MEP Frédérique Ries (ALDE, Belgium) called for more MEPs to take part in the activities of the WGAS. MEP Bas Belder (ECR, the Netherlands) said that the key role in the fight against antisemitism lies on non-Jews and urged the society to be courageous and to change the attitude of bystanders. Arne Gericke (ECR, Germany) advised on enhancing the interaction between Jewish and Christian congregations with a focus on the Protestant churches.

In his closing remarks WGAS Chair MEP Aguilar brought attention to the fact that antisemitism today is often disguised under the cover of the criticism of the State of Israel. He also stressed the importance of bringing the intergenerational aspect into the discussions of the WGAS and mentioned that today’s youth has the responsibility of telling the story of the Holocaust to future generations.

Ariella Woitchik, Director of Legal and Public Affairs of the European Jewish Congress, thanked the invited speakers for their participation, for their excellent work and for being proud Jews and vocal activists who address current challenge with passion, determination and optimism.  She also expressed EJC’s gratitude to the Chair and all MEPs present for their constant support, with special thanks to MEP Kyrkos for his initiative to bring youth voices to the European Parliament.

The event was attended by MEPs coming from various member states and political groups, advisors, staffers and NGO’s representatives.

Friday, November 18, 2016
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Life in Israel
  • Massive section of Western Wall and Roman theatre uncovered after 1,700 years
    Archaeologists are one step closer to solving the riddle of what took place in Jerusalem following the destruction of the city by Romans in 70 CE.

    On Friday, October 20, 2017 Massive section of Western Wall and Roman theatre uncovered after 1,700 years
  • Israel targets fashion industry over underweight models
    Israeli lawmakers want to tighten a ban on the employment of underweight models and on the undeclared digital slimming-down of fashion images, amid concern that the measures are being routinely flouted even as they are adopted abroad.

    On Friday, October 20, 2017 Israel targets fashion industry over underweight models
  • Work on Israel-Cyprus-Greece electricity link to start in 2018
    A Cypriot official said work on an electric cable linking the power grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece is on track to start in the first quarter of 2018 after Greek and Cypriot regulators approved the project.

    On Friday, October 20, 2017 Work on Israel-Cyprus-Greece electricity link to start in 2018
  • In Israel, ultra-Orthodox women emerge as high-tech entrepreneurs
    While Silicon Valley is just beginning to confront decades of sexism and discrimination, female founders in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community say their segregated gender roles have an unintended benefit -- encouraging growing ranks of women entrepreneurs.

    On Friday, October 20, 2017 In Israel, ultra-Orthodox women emerge as high-tech entrepreneurs
  • First fully disabled-accessible synagogue opened in Jerusalem
    Construction of the first fully disabled-accessible synagogue in Jerusalem is about to be finished, giving disabled worshipers easy access to the compound, with comfortable seating arrangements for wheelchair-bound visitors, Braille bibles and more.

    On Wednesday, October 11, 2017 First fully disabled-accessible synagogue opened in Jerusalem
  • Survey: 60 percent of Arab Israelis have a positive view of the state
    A poll of Israeli Arabs has found that sixty percent surveyed said they had a favourable view of the state, while 37% said their view was unfavourable.

    On Wednesday, October 04, 2017 Survey: 60 percent of Arab Israelis have a positive view of the state
  • Israel's trade with Russia leaps by 25 percent
    Trade between Israel and Russia has grown this year by 25 percent, officials from both countries revealed, amid complications with other Russian trading partners.

    On Wednesday, October 04, 2017 Israel's trade with Russia leaps by 25 percent
  • Israel aims to double the number of people working in hi-tech
    The Israel Innovation Authority aims to double the number of high-tech workers in the country over the next decade, while encouraging companies in older industry to use more technology and become more innovative, the authority said in its annual report released on Sunday.

    On Wednesday, October 04, 2017 Israel aims to double the number of people working in hi-tech
  • 20,000 Gazan lulavs arrive in Israel
    A shipment of 20,000 date palm fronds were transported on Monday from the Gaza Strip to Israel where they were to be sold for use in a traditional Jewish religious ritual during the coming Sukkot holiday, the Defence Ministry said.

    On Wednesday, October 04, 2017 20,000 Gazan lulavs arrive in Israel
  • Israeli intelligence helped to thwart dozens of terror attacks around the world
    The Israeli intelligence community has shared information with other countries over the past two years that has helped thwart dozens of terror attacks about to be perpetrated by Islamists who were in contact with members of Islamic State and Middle Eastern factions identified with Al-Qaida.

    On Thursday, September 28, 2017 Israeli intelligence helped to thwart dozens of terror attacks around the world
President's Page Security and Crisis Centre by EJC European Parliament Working Group On Antisemitism