World Jewish Congress calls for increased focus on education about Jewish contribution to Europe, following Eurobarometer report on antisemitism

22 Jan 2019
22 Jan 2019 Facebook Twitter Email Print

The World Jewish Congress is calling for an increased focus on education about the Jewish contribution to Europe and the history of the Holocaust, following the publication of a special Eurobarometer report which found that 4 in 10 Europeans do not see antisemitism as a problem. The report was launched at a special event at the Jewish Museum of Belgium by the European Commissioner for Justice, Věra Jourová.

The report measures perceptions of antisemitism by citizens of all twenty-eight European Union member states by asking a set of questions regarding manifestations of antisemitism, education and awareness, finding that only 50% of Europeans consider antisemitism to be a problem in their own countries. This contrasts with the findings of a recent survey conducted by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, which found that 85% of Jews in in 12 member states do consider antisemitism to be a serious problem.  

Among the report’s findings is the fact that low awareness of antisemitism is linked to lower levels of education.  Awareness is also higher among those who have Jewish friends or acquaintances. Strikingly 68% of Europeans feel ill-informed about Jewish history, customs and practices while more than half (53%) believe Holocaust denial to be a problem.

Commenting on the results, WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer said: “Having spent decades involved in promoting Jewish education on an international level, and working in international diplomacy in various realms, it is clear to me that a renewed emphasis needs to be placed on education about Jewish history and the Holocaust. While the EU and its member states have indeed taken important steps in protecting their Jewish communities, it must be emphasized that without education, broader European society risks overlooking the poison of antisemitism which lingers in so many areas of public life. We will continue to work together with the EU and member states for the practical implementation of the recent declaration of the Council of the EU on the fight against antisemitism."

WJC is itself placing a greater emphasis on education. In November 2018 the organization oversaw the launch of an educational website – ‘Facts about the Holocaust’ - in partnership with UNESCO, which aims to reach students and young people across the world in dozens of languages, including Arabic and Farsi.