MEPs condemn rise of antisemitism in Europe, Czech MEP defends Hungary, blames migration
On 11 February the European Parliament (EP) condemned the growing degree of antisemitism, hatred and racism in the EU Member States. MEPs called on the European Commission (EC) to eradicate such phenomena.
However, the MEPs are not in agreement on the causes behind the growth of antisemitism - some see the causes as insufficient adult education and not enough being done to combat discrimination, others see the cause, paradoxically, as being Islamism or migration into the EU. Addressing the attack committed by right-wing extremists on a synagogue in Halle, Germany last October was the impulse for the debate at the EP.
The Halle attack cost two lives. Another reason the debate was raised was a public opinion survey by Eurobarometer from the end of January according to which antisemitism is on the rise in Europe.
The poll also demonstrated a growing willingness among European Jews to emigrate out of fear for their safety. "Hatred and racism still exist and endanger our society and the minorities living in it. The antisemitic attack in Halle, Germany is just the most flagrant example," declared Commissioner Věra Jourová during the plenary session, who is in charge of the agenda on European values in the new Commission.
According to the Commissioner, the EC is closely collaborating with the Member States and aiding them with incorporating the EU directives on combating racism into their domestic law. She said one of the deficiencies in combating racism is the insufficient recording of displays of hatred, and she also promised more EU money for education about these issues.
According to the Commissioner, the upcoming Germany presidency of the Council of the EU will have combating antisemitism as one of its priorities. Some MEPs said the culprits behind the growth in racism are indifference to hate speech, insufficient adult education, and populism.
On several occasions, Hungary was aired as an example during the debate. "A few days ago in Hungary the Fascists were marching. This was despite the fact that the President of Hungary was in Israel to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where statesmen were saying that the Holocaust must never happen again," said Belgian MEP Frédérique Ries.
German MEP for the Greens Sergey Lagodinsky said that Hungary's leaders today are even promoting anti-Semitic clichés. Czech MEP Alexandr Vondra then spoke in defense of Budapest, alleging that according to polls, Hungary is the only country where the number of Jewish citizens considering emigration has decreased.
Vondra said antisemitism is a "mega-problem" being caused by the EU's own migration policy. "We must end our antisemitic foreign policy," he added.
A similar view is shared by French MEP Jean-Paul Garraud, who said that "the rise in antisemitism is not a matter of populism, but an increase in Islamism. This is our common enemy in the 21st century."
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