TEL AVIV – Anti-Semitism is not just a Jewish or Israeli problem, European Union coordinator on combating antisemitism Katharina von Schnurbein told the Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Combating anti-Semitism, von Schnurbein said, is “a responsibility for society at large.”
“It’s not a Jewish problem, and it’s above all a problem of the antisemites,” she added.
Von Schnurbein is currently in Israel for the 10th EU-Israel Seminar on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Antisemitism, taking place in Jerusalem on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Since the EU created von Schnurbein’s role a year ago, the German official has been working closely with leaders of other minority groups to counter racism and xenophobia.
“It’s a good rule to work with organizations that are willing to stand up not only for their own cause but also for the cause of others and we want to support this kind of coalition building,” she said.
She collaborates often with her colleague, the EU’s coordinator for combating Islamophobia, David Friggieri, the report said.
“While the phenomena [of anti-Muslim hatred] are very different, some of the instruments are the same,” von Schnurbein said.
Over the past year, the coordinators have launched initiatives to fight racism in all its forms, with a particular focus on online racism, including partnering up with social media giants to combat illegal hate speech.
The new protocols include removing hate speech from online social media platforms within 24 hours of being flagged.
Von Schnurbein, who coordinated with Google, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, said the companies are treating the matter of online hate speech seriously. Nonetheless, the EU official said, only 28.2% of flagged content is currently being removed and this needs to change.
“They have stepped up their training of their lawyers,” she said. “They are also employing more staff with regard to the revision progress … and they work closely with NGOs that are trusted flaggers.”
According to von Schnurbein, people who abuse the Internet to spread hate need to get “out of their virtual reality” and understand that the “Internet is not a legal black hole” and can land them in prison.
Having traveled around various Jewish communities around Europe over the past year, von Schnurbein said that more and more steps are being taken against antisemitism.
“I think there is a significant difference nowadays in Europe,” she said. “There is a clear majority strongly standing up against antisemitism and for solidarity with Jewish communities.”
She added, however, that following the terror attacks that have rocked Europe in recent years, she was particularly disturbed by the level of fear that European Jews experience.
“I was not aware of the extent of it,” she said, citing France, Belgium and Luxembourg as examples.
“The ultimate goal must be to create a situation in Europe where Jews can live without fear and can live the life they want to live, can be observant or not, send their kids to public schools or Jewish schools, not behind barbed wire,” she said. “At the moment we are far from it.”
One of the ways of achieving that goal, said von Schnurbein, is to use education not only as a tool for teaching students about the history of the Jewish people but to also teach about the contributions Jews have made to European culture.
Earlier this year, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that von Schnurbein had told a Knesset debate that anti-Zionism is a term often used to mask anti-Semitism.