The opening session of a two-day workshop aimed at strengthening the capacity of policymakers and education stakeholders to address contemporary antisemitism in and through education was held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris on Wednesday. The workshop, co-organized by UNESCO, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), and the World Jewish Congress, brought together government officials and education stakeholders from 26 countries across all UNESCO regions.
Menachem Rosensaft, General Counsel of the World Jewish Congress, welcomed the participants and thanked UNESCO and ODIHR on behalf of WJC President Ronald S. Lauder.
In his opening remarks, Rosensaft emphasized Ambassador Lauder’s priority of greater political activism and engagement by the WJC in fighting antisemitism on the ground. In that sense, he said, civil society is an important stakeholder, which makes the role of education and curricula of critical importance. Rosensaft also acknowledged the presence of CRIF President Francis Kalifat and Executive Director Robert Ejnes.
In the round-table discussion that followed, entitled “Why is it important to address antisemitism globally?”, also attended by several UNESCO Ambassadors, and two French members of the WJC JD Corps, Rosensaft provided the historical context of contemporary antisemitism, and pointed to personalities such as Pope Francis, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay, as role models for society at large in how to publicly set policies of zero-tolerance with respect to antisemitism.
In addition, in response to a question from a participant, Rosensaft stressed the dangers of glorifying or rehabilitating Nazi war criminals and collaborators, as this mainstreams antisemitism and genocide. He gave the example of the recent counter-demonstration to the Lukov march in Bulgaria led by Ambassador Lauder as an example of an effective way to oppose this kind of Holocaust revisionism, stressing that the counter-march attracted more participants from all walks of Bulgarian civil society that the march itself.