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Speech by President von der Leyen at the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Anti-Semitism via videoconference

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op woensdag 13 oktober 2021.

Thank you very much Prime Minister Löfven, dear Stefan,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured and I am humbled to speak to the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Anti-Semitism. Because today, our common fight against anti-Semitism is more urgent than ever. Anti-Semitism is on the rise across Europe. 40% of Jews say they hide symbols that could identify them, out of fear of being physically attacked. We have seen the terrorist attacks in Paris, and Brussels, and Copenhagen, and Halle - two years ago, almost to the day. Today, my thoughts are also with the victims and with the families who lost their loved ones. But these attacks are also a stark reminder of how toxic anti-Semitism is for our society. I therefore welcome the objective of the Malmö Forum to jointly pledge concrete actions to fight anti-Semitism and to eradicate it.

I am proud that, last week, the Commission adopted the first-ever ‘EU Strategy on combatting anti-Semitism and fostering Jewish life'. With this unprecedented step, we are pursuing three important goals. First, we want to strengthen and expand our fight against anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is a threat to Jewish people, but it is also a poison for our democracies, our values and our open societies. We have to fight it offline and online. And hate speech, disinformation and the denial of facts are everywhere online. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how quickly conspiracy myths can spread. Therefore, with our Digital Services Act, we make clear that online platforms must take greater responsibility. Every business - especially powerful tech giants - has to combat hatred and to stand for historical truth.

Second, we want to foster Jewish life in Europe in all its diversity. 76 years after the Holocaust, Jewish life is thriving again in the hearts of our communities. We should be proud of this and make it visible. Among many other actions, we will for example ask those cities aspiring to become European Capital of Culture to spotlight the contribution of Jewish life and culture in their city. We will also make sure that Jews are free to follow their religious traditions. And we will increase funding to better protect places of worship all over our Union.

Finally, my third point, we promise to preserve the memory of past atrocities. Remembering the Shoah is our shared responsibility. And as the last survivors are passing away, we need to find new ways of remembering. This is why we will create a Network of Young European Ambassadors for Holocaust Remembrance. Because who is in a better position to teach the lessons of the Shoah to their peers than our young?

So let me assure you: We will be ambitious when implementing our new Strategy. Because Europe can only prosper if the Jewish communities prosper, too.

So let us join forces to make this happen. And I wish you a successful forum.

Thank you very much.


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