Dr. Josef Schuster was elected President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany in 2014 and re-elected for another four years in 2018. He recently described the German federal elections as “an expression of living democracy” while warning that the fight against right-wing populism and right-wing extremism must be continued and intensified.
In our meeting in Dr. Schuster’s home town of Würzburg, I set out the Council of Europe’s established and strong policy of combatting antisemitism, recalling the Secretary General’s speech at the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism – Remember-ReAct in October and ECRI’s General Policy Recommendation on preventing and combating antisemitism.
We shared our concern about the rise of antisemitism online and offline in Germany and across Europe, noting in particular the violent antisemitic outbreaks in several European cities in May this year. These outbreaks of antisemitism are often attributed to the migration of refugees into Germany in 2015. However, Dr. Schuster recalled that similar violent outbreaks occurred in 2014, which underlines that the dangerous antisemitism cannot be blamed on the refugees alone.
We agreed on the vital importance to safeguard freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 9 ECHR) for the Jewish communities in Europe.
I assured Dr. Schuster that the fight against antisemitism in all its forms and the protection of Jewish life in Europe would continue to be a top priority for the Council of Europe.