BRUSSELS, Sept. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An AJC delegation just ended a visit to Brussels, the last stop on a trip that began in Santiago, continued to Buenos Aires and London, before ending in the European Union's capital city.
The trip was highlighted by private meetings with Kristalina Georgieva, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Budget and Human Resources; Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice; and Helga Schmid, the Secretary-General of the European External Action Service (EEAS). The delegation also saw the new Israeli Ambassador to the European Union, Ronny Leshno-Yaar, and the EEAS Managing Director for the Americas, Edita Hrda.
AJC CEO David Harris, who led the group, was also invited to address a group of 25 officials from the European Commission and EEAS who focus on issues related to anti-Semitism, migration, education, and security in the EU.
That session was hosted and organized by Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Commission's Coordinator on Combatting anti-Semitism. She introduced the session by saying that AJC "was one of the first to warn about the new anti-Semitism in Europe," and after the more than 90-minute session, she described it via social media as "powerful."
Harris spoke about AJC's 16-year-long effort, starting in 2000, to alert European leaders to three emerging threats to Jewish communities and Europe as a whole -- radical Islamists, right-wing extremists, and those who seek to delegitimize Israel, the world's only Jewish state, and demonize its supporters.
He cited examples of political leaders and institutions that were incapable or unwilling to see the emerging challenges, while noting that the situation has begun to change in recent years, however late in the day.
Harris stressed, as a lifelong friend of Europe, that these issues should not be seen as uniquely Jewish, but rather European, as they undermine the EU's core commitment to the protection of human dignity. If Jews no longer feel confident in Europe's ability to ensure their safety, then it is an indictment of Europe, and must be seen as such.
The answer, he noted, must be a long-term commitment, a wide-ranging approach, and an eyes-open assessment of current realities. "There is no overnight solution, nor a one-size-fits-all strategy to a pathology that has endured for far too long," he stressed. Among the several steps he proposed is what he termed a 'values contract' for newcomers to Europe, who need to understand the foundational principles of today's Europe, including democracy, gender equality, freedom of sexual orientation, religious freedom (including the right to be free from religion), and peaceful coexistence.
More broadly, among the principal topics discussed in the various meetings were: (a) the major migration and integration challenges confronting the EU and European identity; (b) Islamist radicalization and recruitment in Europe; (c) the 2016 United States presidential elections and the potential impact on U.S. foreign policy; (d) the aftermath of the nuclear deal with Iran, in which the EU, and Ms. Schmid in particular, had played a central role; and (e) opportunities and challenges in the EU-Israeli relationship.
The AJC Transatlantic Institute, based in Brussels and founded in 2004 through the generosity of Rhoda and the late Jordan Baruch, is chaired by Robert Elman and directed by Daniel Schwammenthal.
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SOURCE American Jewish Committee