European Jewish Congress
Speech by President of European Jewish Congress and Russian Jewish congress Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor at the joint press briefing with Chairman of ECTR Aleksander Kwasniewski
Events
Speech by President of European Jewish Congress and Russian Jewish congress Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor at the joint press briefing with Chairman of ECTR...

Speech by President of European Jewish Congress and Russian Jewish congress Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor at the joint press briefing with Chairman of ECTR Aleksander Kwasniewski

Brussels, Hotel Silken Berlaymont, November 10, 2008

Today is a very important day for us all. We are completing the first cycle of the series of commemorative events. Our tragedy is a base for us to understand how to move further, how to help Europe create a society ready to face challenges of the 21st century.

But before we move to the future, we have to learn the lessons of the past. That's why we made a very strong program of commemorating events together with our dear colleague and friend President Aleksander Kwasniewski. The first event took place in Krakow to commemorate 65th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation. The event was attended by Presidents of fifty countries. Then we organized together in Babi Yar the commemoration of the tragedy of so-called “hidden” Holocaust - the Holocaust of Eastern Europe, where three million Jews were mass murdered at five thousand locations.

Finally, yesterday we commemorated in the Great Synagogue of Brussels the 70th anniversary of die Kristallnacht - the start of the tragedy, which was not identified as a lesson for the humanity. This lesson not identified in time claimed lives of six million of Jews, about 10 million of Germans and what is very important - about 14 million non-Jewish and non-German people. It means observers pay the highest price.

What do we see today? We see the same things. Unlearnt lessons. We see that so-called problematic countries, not involved in any international treaties or agreements, are trying to have nuclear weapons. It's dangerous not only for their neighbors - like Russia or Israel - it's already dangerous for the entire Europe, taking into consideration the means of delivery they have in their possession. I am the president of the Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe, which consists of the best sixty experts in the world in the sphere of nuclear non-proliferation. In this capacity I can report that Iran has already developed an experimental nuclear bomb. They have it already. They don't have the technology to produce bombs on an industrial scale, but they do have their first bomb. Should we wait for new lessons, for new victims of somebody's ambitions?
I don't think so. That's why we propose to construct a building of protection - and not only of protection, but also of innovation in all spheres to create a future society in Europe. This building is tolerance and reconciliation.

My dear friend President Aleksander Kwasniewski will tell you more about the Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation. This body proposed the ways to take practical steps to promote tolerance. I'll share with you my ideas about this project.

Tolerance is not like a pill with immediate effect - there is no pill you can take to wake up next morning completely tolerant to foreigners. Not at all. It is a very long process. Do you know long it takes to educate a first-class specialist in nuclear physics? 20-25 years - from kindergarten to PhD. The same thing with tolerance. It's a very complicated program, with directions and sub-directions.

I can tell you a secret. We tried to develop a program for one country - one of the biggest in Europe. And we tried just to come up with the agenda for the future work - without contents, just naming the directions of work. Four hundred page document about legislation, governmental acts, non-governmental activities, civil society, migration, culture and media (including Internet)! But only with this routine and very complicated approach can we achieve the result without genetically engineering future generation.
We believe - and that's why we started this work - that this goal is achievable, but only if the foundation of this building is a triangle - united Europe, Russia, and the United States.

Answers:

Your opinion on anti-Israeli propaganda:

Ives Leterme, the Belgian Prime Minister has recently said a very interesting thing - anti-Israeli statements are just hidden anti-Semitism. We agree with this. We will do our best and do our job in all directions to deliver what we promised. We will pay attention to negative effects we always have around the corner. We understand that this world is the world of competing ideologies, of competing ideas. I believe that after many years of experiments we found with the help of all our programs a very good product to be delivered. This product is tolerance and reconciliation of the society. I appreciate the position of the Council on Tolerance, because this Council is the council of wisdom and experience. It's not the council of former presidents and prime ministers. It is a council of the integral experience and wisdom. It's really important. That's why we believe that this Council will be able to give support to really challenging initiatives in Europe.
Your view of the current state of tolerance in Europe
I want to share with you the ideas we had in mind creating the concept of the White Book. It should not criticize somebody or something. We have a lot of critical literature. We do not say that such publications are not important - they serve their purpose well. But we want to do something very positive. It's like a list of achievements in different directions. We appreciate any kind of positive movements in the sphere of tolerance and reconciliation, any types we can imaging. We want countries to compete between themselves to be included into the Book.
The next thing. Do we, the Jews, feel more comfortable in Europe today, seventy years after die Kristallnacht, as compared with post-WWII period? The answer is no. We feel worse than after WWII. We have a shortage of historical memory - the disease of any civilization, including civilization of the 20th and 21st centuries. What politicians and governments are allowed to do now in Europe - we couldn't have imagined it ten or twenty years ago. This is the case. Neo-Nazis and pro-Nazis in Europe outnumber the Jews in Europe. It's like this almost in all countries. But the worse thing is that this problem is trivialized. We often here something like this: “Why are you talking about anti-Semitism? Why are you talking about the Holocaust? It should be in the books of history. Let's turn the page - let's discuss identity, integrity, etc.” And at the same time we see desecration and destruction of our tombs, neo-Nazi books, neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic newspapers on a regular basis. Governments tolerate this. Again we reached the lowest level of shortage of historical memory, and it's very symptomatic. If we analyze the period in which die Kristallnacht took place, we'll see that it was exactly in the time of economic crisis in the U.S. It's a very interesting observation, because after die Kristallnacht there was another test for the humanity: the story of St.Louis liner. Hitler - a very careful politician, sent 1,000 Jews to Cuba with Cuban visas - practically to nowhere, as during the trip visas were cancelled. Nobody accepted the Jews, especially in the America. The vessel was in Miami marina, but it was not allowed in. Why? Because the U.S. was in crisis. American businessmen and civil society didn't want to help Jews, because they wanted to collaborate with the developing economy of Germany. What do we see today? I have already told you how many companies collaborate with the criminal regime of Iran. 5,000! The turnover of European companies collaborating with Iran is 100 million USD. Today we are facing the economic crisis again. So we must realize - we are in danger. Not only Jews. The world is in danger! But as history teaches us, all programs usually start with Jews. Because we still don't have our country - in Europe. Thanks G-d we have the State of Israel, it's our biggest insurance - which we didn't have 70 years ago. So, today the world is in danger, and we must be really careful in the face of all these challenges.

About hate materials spreading from the U.S. Yesterday one of the journalists asked me a very interesting question: Do we accept if somebody physically or in some other aggressive manner forces somebody to tolerant? It's a really interesting. So the answer is - Yes, if it is legal. If it is according to the national law. Talmud says that every Jew in every country in case of danger should obey the local law - even if it contradicts Torah. It's the foundation of survival. But today internet is not sufficiently regulated. This is a big gap in legislation. If we want to have a tolerant society, we should start with legislation in the sphere of internet. But not before - we cannot punish anybody in so-called “manual” regime. It should systematic and based on laws.

Friday, November 28, 2008
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