Civil society letter to European Commission: counter political instrumentalization of antisemitism

Published on Wed Jun 16 2021

On 15 June, 2021, 10 European NGOs and networks sent an open letter to the European Commission to raise concern about the political instrumentalization of the fight against antisemitism. The ELSC is one of the signatories.

The NGOs and networks sent the letter in anticipation of the EU’s “comprehensive strategy on combating antisemitism”, which the European Commission will present at the end of 2021.

They write: “As civil society organizations promoting human rights and respect for international humanitarian law in Israel and Palestine, we are alarmed by the expanding conflation of criticism directed at the State of Israel with antisemitism.

While this conflation is primarily promoted by the Israeli government and organizations affiliated with it, the Commission has so far failed to clearly distance itself from it. Worse, the Commission has been giving a political tailwind to this troubling trend.”

The letter expresses concern about the Commission’s “unqualified endorsement” of the controversial IHRA definition of antisemitism, criticizes the Commission’s “Handbook for the practical use” of that definition and deplores the lack of transparency and of inclusiveness, which has long characterized the Commission’s approach to fighting antisemitism.

The 10 European NGOs and networks call on the Commission to “acknowledge, reject and counter the political instrumentalization of the fight against antisemitism”, to “launch a serious and substantial dialogue with concerned civil society organizations” and to “reaffirm the Commission’s commitment to freedom of expression and to civic space for rights-based advocacy and activism on Israel-Palestine in the upcoming strategy on combating antisemitism”.

The full letter can be downloaded here. It has been signed by Broederlijk Delen, 11.11.11, CNCD-11.11.11, European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine(ECCP), European Legal Support Center (ELSC), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH), medico international, Plateforme des ONG Françaises pour la Palestine and The Rights Forum.

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