Addressing the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe
26th June 2012
Speaking at a one day conference on anti-Semitism in Europe, in Brussels last week, Dr Charles Tannock MEP strongly supported a cross-party group being set up in the European Parliament to combat anti-Semitism.
He said the group will be mirrored on the model used in the UK House of Commons, chaired by John Mann MP, in order to maintain awareness in EU political circles of the danger of the resurgence of anti-Semitism.
He also urged all European citizens to use their votes in elections as the best tool to defeat extremist parties. Dr Tannock said: “Low turnouts in elections makes it easier for extremist parties of the Left or Right to be elected because the mainstream parties lose out in terms of representation.”
Addressing delegates at the conference taking place in the European Parliament, he said anti-Semitism is the oldest form of race hatred, going back over 2,000 years to ancient Egypt. Even Britain is far from blameless; in 1290, King Edward I issued an edict expelling all Jews from England following an intense sequence of pogroms.
Dr Tannock, Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Spokesman for the UK Conservative delegation, said: “The civilized world had hoped the persecution of Jews would have ended after the horrors of the Holocaust in the Second World War but since 2000 there has been an upswing of anti-Semitic acts throughout Europe.
“As demonstrated so atrociously by the anti-Semitic murders committed by Mohammed Merah in Toulouse earlier this year, it is clear there are many different sources of anti-Semitism,” said Dr Tannock. “There are those appallingly claiming to be motivated by the Arab peace process against the state of Israel, attacking European Jewry because they believe it to be a proxy for Israel. Then there are also attacks from the far Left and far Right on Israel which sometimes are a thinly veiled form of anti-Semitism against Jews in general rather than just a legitimate and balanced criticism of the Jewish state.”
Dr Tannock pointed to an attempt in 2005 by the European Monitoring Centre for Racism and Xenophobia to suppress a report on anti-Semitism which had an unexpected finding; that in many cases anti-Semitic acts were being carried out in countries such as Belgium, Holland and France by first, second and third generation immigrants and their descendants from North Africa and the Middle East, rather than the extreme Right and Neo-Nazi groups the Centre had expected to find solely culpable.
Dr Tannock said: “I was involved in putting pressure on the Centre, an EU agency, to release its report as the truth must be known and the issues addressed no matter how unexpected or challenging. Eventually the report was released. I have a long history as a friend of Israel and in the past campaigned against European Union funding for Palestinian text books that had anti-Semitic material within them. I have also lobbied for ratification of an EU trade agreement with Israel that facilitates the import of high-quality and affordable medicines into Europe, following a legislative process that has become highly politicised and as a result stalled for two years.”
Looking ahead, Dr Tannock said it was important that as well as EU member state governments rigorously enforcing the existing criminal laws, there is also need for EU led dialogue with countries such as Ukraine and Russia that addresses the rises in far Right nationalism, that the newly appointed EU Special Representative for Human Rights is aware of the issue of anti-Semitism internationally and that Baroness Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, raises the issue of anti-Semitism regularly at the highest levels in her dialogue with countries where such behaviour is still sadly commonplace.