European Commission replies to Jeremy Havardi’s letter

Letter from Katharina von Schnurbein

Dear Mr Havardi,

Thank you for your e-mail of 24 February 2020, addressed to President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. I am replying to your letter on her behalf as Commission Coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life.

We have seen the reports about the Aalst Carnival that took place on 23 February 2020. It is self-evident that such images should not parade European streets 75 years after the Shoah. The images are reminiscent of 1930s Nazi dehumanisation. Such images normalise antisemitism and violate EU values in times when people are being murdered based on antisemitic and xenophobic ideologies such recently in Hanau and Halle. All who cherish democracy and defend our diverse societies should act against this dehumanisation of Jewish Europeans.

The Commission’s position is clear: we stand firmly against all forms of antisemitism. The European Commission, in particular Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, condemed the terrible depictions of Jews as shown in the parade. This phenomenon is incompatible with the values and principles on which the EU is founded. However, the European Commission does not have the legal competence to intervene in this matter. It is for national authorities to take action on individual cases on the basis of European and national law.

Let me thank you for the ongoing close cooperation between the European Commission and B’nai B’rith International and B’nai B’rith Europe. You and your affiliates are an important part of our efforts in fighting antisemitism in Europe and globally. It is essential for an open and tolerant Europe that Jewish voices are heard and Jewish life can flourish.

I look forward to our continuous cooperation.

Yours sincerely,

Katharina von Schnurbein

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