New EU antisemitism tsar as report tracks rise in hate
FRANS TIMMERMANS, a former foreign minister of the Netherlands and the vice-president of the European Commission, has said he will act as the EU’s first envoy on antisemitism.
Announcing his new role, Mr Timmermans said in a speech to Jewish leaders at an EU event in Brussels last week: “The importance we attach to fighting antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred also means that we do not just want to listen to you and your concerns today.”
Mr Timmermans, who is responsible for better regulation, the rule of law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, added: “I want to be in direct control of this. I will be your envoy if you want to call it that.”
He continued: “New antisemitism… sometimes tries to hide behind anti-Zionism.”
He did not say exactly what he would be doing as EU envoy on antisemitism — a post that exists in the Israeli and French foreign ministries and the US State Department.
Mr Timmermans’ announcement came one day after the European Fundamental Rights Agency published a report saying that “gross u n d e r - r e p o r t - ing” was making it hard to document the trend of rising antisemitism in Europe.
The report noted that only two EU member states, Hungary and Sweden, recorded a decrease in antisemitic incidents between 2004 and 2014.
Constantinos Manolopoulos, the agency’s head, warned in the report of a “climate of intolerance” in Europe and called for “immediate and decisive action to combat extremist, xenophobic, and antisemitic discourse and crimes”.
The Council of Europe’s committee on national minorities also voiced concern last week about mounting racism and antisemitism in Germany, citing a wave of far-right, anti-Islam demonstrations that were at odds with the more recent image of a country ready to open its doors to hundreds of thousands of refugees. “There have been worrying developments as regards public manifestations of racism and xenophobia,” the council said in a statement.
Frans Timmermans: new role to tackle antisemitism