Brussels, September 7th, 2022 – German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called upon churches to fight back at antisemitism, pointing out that today antisemitism can take many forms. Recalling the murderous hatred of Jews instigated among Christians and by Christians for centuries, he said that “the security of the Jewish community – in Germany, in Israel, in the nations of the world – must be one of the tenets of all religions.”

The German government was one of the first to adopt the IHRA working definition on antisemitism which gives examples of contemporary antisemitism, including anti-Zionism.

The presidential address was delivered at the opening session of the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches which began last week in Karlsruhe and will conclude tomorrow Thursday. The assembly brings together representatives of around 350 church communities from more than 120 nations. The general secretary elect Dr Jerry Pillay from South Africa recently made headlines when it was revealed that he supports the BDS movement and was on the record of having called Israel an apartheid state. The BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is considered antisemitic by the German Bundestag.

In a private letter to the office of President Steinmeier ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell commended the German leader for his moral leadership in reminding the church leaders of their responsibilities towards the Jewish communities at a time when calls for BDS are heard in many church circles.

Earlier this year ECI brought together senior church leaders to Berlin to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Wannsee conference which prepared the way for the implementation of the Holocaust. At the conference the Vice President of the German Bundestag Katrin Göring-Eckardt spoke about the need to build strong alliances in the fight against antisemitism. A growing number of church leaders have since heeded the call to fight Jew hatred by adopting the IHRA working definition of antisemitism and joining the ECI Churches Against Antisemitism network.

In his letter Sandell offered the help of ECI in further strengthening this vital alliance at a time when polarization, radicalization and antisemitism is growing stronger.