JUSTICE - No. 68

15 Summer 2022 Fundamental Rights (FRA), by mid-2020, nineteen EU Member states had adopted, or were in the process of adopting, self-standing strategies or specific actions to address antisemitism, as part of their general strategies on racism.6 Member states are also asked to appoint special envoys or coordinators to combat antisemitism and foster Jewish life at the national and regional level. They are urged to develop and implement a stringent and adequate legislative framework to prosecute antisemitic hate speech and hate crime, including that which is conducted online. They are also to closely coordinate with relevant international organizations and cooperate with civil society on training activities to tackle antisemitism. They are further required to ensure that data are collected on antisemitic hate crimes by their competent authorities. Member states are encouraged to support, including financially, civil society organizations to combat online antisemitic hate speech, disinformation, and conspiracy myths, and strengthen the capacity of national law enforcement and judicial authorities to prosecute online hate speech. They are asked also to ensure that national equality bodies are educated, trained, and equipped to ensure that incidents of antisemitic discrimination are properly addressed and reported in all areas, including employment, health, and housing. I have expressed doubts about this recommendation, as it is currently beyond the mandates of most equality bodies, and adding new responsibilities to under-resourced organizations without supporting them financially and enhancing their independence may not be practical. Under the second pillar, protecting and fostering Jewish life, states are encouraged to adopt the necessary measures to ensure the security of Jewish premises and provide them with sufficient financial and other support. They should engage with international police agencies and other relevant international organizations regarding counter-terrorism activities, including those combating racism, xenophobia, and antisemitism. They should foster cooperation between local and national law enforcement authorities and respective Jewish communities based on already established good practice, as well as use this base for seeking new and innovative ways to further improve their cooperation. They should participate in ongoing training of national law enforcement and criminal justice authorities, provided by FRA and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), to improve their capacities to record and collect hate crime data, including data on antisemitism, and support civil society organizations to complement such collection. Lastly, under the second pillar, countries are requested to support Heritage Days by highlighting Jewish heritage in the national context. This includes national museums, state-sponsored arts and cultural festivals, and funding for Jewish heritage projects. Regarding the third pillar, promoting education and Holocaust remembrance, the states are encouraged to establish policy and legal measures that ensure that religious groups and communities, including Jews, can live their lives in accordance with their religious and cultural traditions. States should raise awareness among the public about Jewish life and traditions by publicly marking days relevant for Jewish people, and by funding projects and counteracting campaigns, as explained below. This point could be used to resist campaigns against religious practice such as brit mila (circumcision) and shechita (ritual slaughter) – campaigns which are currently being pursued by some states. On December 17, 2020, the European Court of Justice, in a preliminary ruling, upheld the 2017 decree of the Flemish government to ban ritual slaughter without stunning. At the same time, the Court stressed that stricter national rules on ritual slaughter must be proportionate, considering the freedom of religion and belief guaranteed by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.7 The EC has stated that it fully understands the concerns of the Jewish and Muslim communities and that they recognize the inconsistency of welcoming a continued Jewish (and Muslim) presence in Europe on the one hand, while negating their right to practice basic religious precepts, on the other. Under the third pillar, states are encouraged to promote knowledge of Jewish life, antisemitism and the Holocaust through education and research, and to encourage cultural/religious exchanges between local communities. They should record and report incidents of antisemitic discrimination in schools and support school 6. “Antisemitism, Overview of Antisemitic Incidents Recorded in the European Union,” Annual Update, 2010–2020, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 82 (2021), available at https://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/ fra_uploads/fra-2021-antisemitism-overview-2010-2020_ en.pdf 7. Judgement of the Court of Justice in Case C336/19, 17 Dec. 2020, available at https://europa.eu/newsroom/ content/1632020-17-december-2020-judgment-court-justicecase-c-33619_en

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