BRUSSELS (JTA) — With anti-Semitism on the rise more than six decades after the liberation of Auschwitz, Europe should be fighting harder against hate, Moshe Kantor said.
Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, who spoke Tuesday in Brussels at a Holocaust remembrance ceremony hosted by the E.U. Parliament, brought this message personally to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, current president of the E.U. Council.
According to Kantor, who organized the Holocaust remembrance event, the two met earlier in the day to discuss how to deal with Hungary’s anti-Semitic, far-right Jobbik party, as well as Orbán’s controversial new media watch-dog law, which critics consider anti-democratic.
Dina Porat, head of the new Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry in Tel Aviv, said anti-Semitism was particularly problematic in Western Europe, which has a larger Muslim population than the central and eastern European countries.
"Most of them want to live their lives like anyone else," she told JTA. But the radicals among them tend to pick up Christian anti-Semitic motifs. "And in democratic countries, where you have media freedom, such propaganda can proliferate," Porat explained.
Democratic countries cannot afford to be "tolerant of intolerance," Kantor said, adding that Europe should have "zero tolerance" for anti-Semitism.
"The European Union can fight it," said World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, addressing several hundred people at the ceremony. "Every time someone says something ant-Semitic, we should stand up and fight back."
Holocaust survivors and the son of a rescuer were among those to join in the ceremony, which also featured remarks by E.U. Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, former prime minister of Poland; Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, chairman of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial; and Yuri Edelstein, Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs.