Brussels, January 24th, 2017 – The European Coalition for Israel has launched a new awareness raising campaign to mark the upcoming Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, January 27th. Throughout the week Holocaust memorial events will be organised in local churches and faith communities across Europe, and on Wednesday, January 25th, ECI will take part in the official European Parliament Holocaust Remembrance Day event in Brussels hosted by the newly appointed President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani.
Last year, the then Vice-President Tajani accepted the ECI challenge to wear a kippah on Holocaust Remembrance Day in solidarity with the Jewish communities in Europe, after a Jewish teacher was slashed with a machete in Marseille in January 2016. Last week, ahead of the election of a new president, ECI met with Tajani to remind him about the difficult situation for many Jewish communities in Europe.
In a special edition of the European Report, the ECI monthly talk show from the European Parliament, the European Coordinator on combating anti-Semitism, Katharina von Schnurbein, confirmed that many Jews in Europe still live in fear. But she assured that the European Commission will do everything in its power to make sure that Jews can feel safe and at home in Europe. Through various EU funded projects the memory of the Holocaust has been kept alive and new alliances of persecuted minorities have emerged. She also mentioned new measures in the field of social media to stop the spread of anti-Semitism and other forms of hate speech.
She was joined in the programme by German MEP Arne Gericke who pointed out how important it is that Jewish culture can continue to flourish in the heart of Europe. “It is also important that the Jewish communities understand that they are not alone”, he said. Gericke mentioned the recent ECI-co-hosted conference in the European Parliament in December as a good example of extraordinary support for Israel and the Jewish people.
But he warned of the rise of extremist parties in Europe that give room to anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred.
In the programme ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell mentioned the need for education as an antidote to new forms of anti-Semitism.
“In a day and age when many new citizens in Europe do not know or do not want to know the tragic facts of the Holocaust, it is important that this is taught in every single school throughout Europe”, he said.
Already in 2005 ECI initiated and hosted the first Holocaust Remembrance Day event in the European Parliament. The event has now become an official event hosted by the President of the European Parliament. Throughout the week ECI will make available video testimonies from Holocaust survivors on its website: http://www.ec4i.org/resources/holocaust-remembrance-day/ This unique on-line exhibition has been produced by New Zealand artist and photographer Perry Trotter.