There has been an alarming rise in antisemitism across the globe in recent years, on both the far-right and the far-left. The growth of extreme far-right parties in Europe and a proliferation of anti-Zionist sentiment has contributed to an atmosphere in which many Jews are afraid to openly identify as such.
Recent studies, including the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)’s December 2019 second comprehensive report on discrimination and hate crimes against Jews in the EU, found that an overwhelming majority of the 16,500 self-identified Jewish respondents – 89 percent - feel that antisemitism is getting worse. This was the largest survey of Jewish people ever conducted worldwide, covering 12 EU member states, which are home to over 96 percent of Europe’s Jewish population; it follows the first survey of its kind in 2012, which covered 7 states. The 2018 report also found that 79% of those who experienced antisemitic harassment in the five years prior to the survey did not report the most serious incident to police, indicating an even darker reality than the official national crime numbers. More than one-third of all respondents said they had considered emigrating in the five years preceding the survey because they did not feel safe as Jews in the country where they live.
The World Jewish Congress would not be what it is without the communities in more than 100 countries across six continents it represents.Our communities, affiliated with WJC through their official national representative bodies, are as diverse as the Jewish people itself – ranging from the largest communities in Israel, the United States, France, Canada and the UK, to some of the most tiny, remote communities in countries such as Tajikistan, North Macedonia and Kenya. The communities themselves also straddle religious, ethnic and cultural differences which make up the rich tapestry of the Jewish people.
As the survivors of the Shoah sadly fade from the scene, the WJC will continue to ensure that the memory of the Shoah will remain at the forefront of the consciousness of the Jewish people and the international community. The WJC understands that it is up to the post-Holocaust generations to transmit the memories of the survivors, together with their moral legacies, into the future.
In order to ensure the transmittal of Holocaust memory – and the commitment to Holocaust remembrance – into the future, it is imperative to gear the WJC’s programming and activities in this regard to younger generations, and to involve all parts of civil society. The WJC’s annual #WeRemember campaign, which reaches hundreds of millions of people around the globe, is an example of how Holocaust remembrance can be made relevant to all aspects of society.
At the same time, while the WJC will never allow the Holocaust to be universalized so as to diminish its Jewish essence, the WJC is also committed to fight all forms of racism, bigotry and xenophobia directed against other national, religious, ethnic, or racial groups.
The WJC has always spearheaded dialogue between the three Abrahamic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Inter-faith cooperation can make an important contribution to peace around the world and to better understanding between communities in our societies.
Christian Faiths - The WJC has well established relations with the Catholic Church, and has played a leading role, both directly and within the framework of ICJIC, in an ongoing dialogue over many decades.
Muslim Faith - Dialogue with representatives of moderate Islam is one of the most important and challenging issues at this time. The increasing gap of understanding between so-called 'Western liberal democracies' and the Islamic word is a recipe for potential civil strife and possible violence.
The Talmudic phrase “Kol Yisreal Arevim Zeh beZeh " (All Jews are responsible for one another), encapsulates the raison d’être of the WJC in all spheres of life, including Jewish communal security. Since its foundation in 1936, long before the establishment of its Global Jewish Security Department, the WJC has been at the forefront of fighting for the rights of Jews and Jewish communities around the world.
The story of the Jews in Arab lands still forms a major gap in most of the world's knowledge of the history of the Middle East. Jewish presence in what are now Arab lands long predates Islam and the Arab conquest of the Middle East and goes back to Biblical times. In 1945, there were approximately 866,000 Jews living in communities throughout the Arab world. Today, there are fewer than 7,000. In many Arab states, once thriving Jewish communities have all but disappeared. According to official statistics, 856,000 Jews , persecuted and under duress, were exiled from their homes in Arab countries between 1948 and the early 1970s leaving behind substantial property and other assets.
Around the world, Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is constantly questioned. The WJC and its affiliates actively defend the legitimacy of Israel on all levels and support the state against unfair and biased attacks.