Holy See upholds OSCE efforts to combat rise of Anti-Semitism in Europe
By Lisa Zengarini
The Holy See has once again expressed alarm over rising Anti-Semitic violence and hate speech in European countries, upholding the ongoing efforts by members States of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to stem Anti-Semitism and better protect Jewish communities.
Protecting Jewish communities
The issue was addressed at a Conference hosted this week in Skopje by the 2023 OSCE Chairpersonship of North Macedonia. Discussions focused on three themes: recognizing, recording and prosecuting anti-Semitic hate crimes and addressing the security needs of Jewish communities; addressing anti-Semitism in and through education; and countering Holocaust denial and distortion.
In a statement delivered at the closing session on February 7, the Apostolic Nuncio to North Macedonia, Archbishop Luciano Suriani, said the Holy See is particularly alarmed by the rising number of attacks targeting synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and other sites of the Jewish community, noting that Anti-Semitic hate crimes (like other anti-religious hate crimes) are “widely under-recorded and more numerous than indicated in the annual reporting” by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
He, therefore, reiterated that protecting Jewish, as well as other religious communities, and their places of worship is a duty incumbent upon the civil authorities, regardless of their political views or religious affiliation
Erosion of the freedom of Jewish people to practice their religion
The Vatican Nuncio went on to highlight two worrying trends that need particular attention.
The first challenge is the erosion of the freedom of Jewish people to practice their religion, based on the false idea that behaviours and actions motivated by religious belief should have no room in our societies.
On the contrary, Archbishop Suriani said, the Holy See is convinced that “religious freedom is essential especially in a secular society” since “it protects the most intimate realm of every single person and the identity of different religious communities living in our societies”.
Trivializing the Holocaust
Another worrying trend today is the trivialization, diminishment and misappropriation of the Holocaust, “particularly in the context of protest against public health measures pertaining to the Covid-19” or with reference to the ongoing conflicts in various parts of the world. The Vatican Nuncio insisted the “singularity and uniqueness of the Holocaust” making any comparison “unacceptable”.
Hate speech on the web
Finally, Archbishop Suriani addressed the role played by Internet and social networks in amplifying Anti-Semitic feelings and prejudices at an unprecedented scale. While reiterating that freedom of expression comes with responsibility, he drew attention to the need for codes of conduct for Internet service providers and social networking services, and in some cases for direct State intervention.