Jewish Rights are Human Rights and Vice Verca

EUJS was privileged to represent young European Jewry at the United Nations’ Headquarters: The event constituted of four main panels.

The first point that he mentioned was that the EUJS advocates for Jewish rights, Human rights, and Youth rights, by using empowerment as a main tool for everything the EUJS does. Everything the organization does is carried out by young people, for young people through social and political activism.

His second point focused on how EUJS empowers young people to speak on their behalf. Here, Fischer noted that it is important to follow a binary idea when it comes to Jewish advocacy and Jewish activism – EUJS therefore operates both within and outside the Jewish community.

Benny Fischer’s third point focused on the reasons for why the EUJS is operating in this way. The main goal is to change the narrative of contemporary Judaism. In this respect, EUJS believes that Jewish identity (not only in Europe) is in a crisis, as the foundation of Jewish identity is predominantly built up on negative factors. For instance, by a wrong Holocaust education, a very dogmatic approach to Israel activism, and by the exterior threat of antisemitism – especially in Europe which students face both on and off campus. Another issue – exemplified by Fischer’s classmates – European society encounters Judaism first by learning about negative events such as the Holocaust, or about the conflict in the Middle East. Thus, confusion is often the outcome when meeting a living Jewish person for the first time in their lives. There should be a change in the curricula, and it would be better if Judaism would also be addressed in arts, music or theatre classes.

His fourth point addressed EUJS’ belief that Jewish Rights are Human Rights, and that Human Rights are Jewish Rights. There is an acute need to start speaking to society as a whole, and include society as a whole in the work that the EUJS does. “This also means that if we care about our own rights, we have to care about the rights of our neighbours, of other people from our society that suffer from human rights violations.”

Accordingly, is fifth and final point focused on coalition-building, which represents one of the main tools of EUJS to combat antisemitism and to jointly advocate in favour of Human Rights. He gave examples regarding EUJS’ strong collaboration with the Roma and the Armenian communities and its collaboration with the Muslim Jewish Conference.

The first panel moderated by Ms. Jane Eisener, Editor-in-Chief, the Forward, was dedicated to Government Responses to Global Antisemitism, in which representatives from the USA, Canada, the European Union, Israel and Germany have provided a summary of the measures undertaken by their respective governments in response to the rise of the local, regional, and global rise of anti-Semitism.

The second panel focused on Antisemitism and Hate Speech on the Internet and in the Social Media: Solutions for the Digital Age, and was moderated by Mr. Akiva Tor, Head of the Bureau for World Jewish Affairs and World Religions, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel. The panel addressed the challenges that the digital age poses to the human dignity and public safety. It strived to answer questions on how can we increase the decency and safety of the web without harming its essential freedom and also what are the responsibilities of the government, civil society and industry in providing effective solutions for the digital age.

The third panel, moderated by Ms. Stacy Burdett, Director, Government and National Affairs, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), focused on discussing Civil Society Coalitions and it explored the best practices for strengthening both the dialogue and cooperation between civil society organizations all over the world. It was moderated by Mr. Tad Stahnke, Director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Initiative on Holocaust Denial and Antisemitism.

The fourth session dealt with Youth and Education by examining the existing programs on anti-Semitism and Holocaust education, and also by providing recommendations on the expansion of such programs. The elected President of the European Union of Jewish Students, Benjamin Fischer, was one of the panelists of the session, and his speech was structured on five main points.

The High Level Forum on Global Antisemitism ended with the closing remarks of Ambassador David Roet, Deputy Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations.