Anti-Semitism in Europe is at perhaps the highest level since World War II, and B'nai B'rith International has worked closely with B'nai B'rith Europe to educate and advocate for greater protection of the Jewish community across the continent.
The EU Activism Seminar was one such initiative, bringing together 20 college students from 19 countries to learn more about advocacy efforts and actually meet with political officials in Brussels, Belgium.
It was an eye-opening experience for many of the students, sitting in on top-level, closed-door meetings. Freelance journalist Cnaan Liphshiz attended the five-day seminar and wrote about his experience in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Read excerpts from his article, below:
The sessions were all conducted off-the-record and arranged by B’nai B’rith International and B’nai B’rith Europe for about 20 members of the Delegation of Jewish American Students, or DOJAS. Nuno Wahnon Martins, director of EU Affairs at B’nai B’rith International, said the seminar aims to demonstrate how the European Union’s work influences discussions about issues that concern the Jewish community.
For me, the meetings turned out to be a sobering experience.
One lawmaker who described himself as active in the fight against anti-Semitism went on to tell the group that Israeli actions sometimes cause anti-Semitism and that he hoped Israel — by ending controversial policies like expanding West Bank settlements — would help him combat anti-Semitism.
One speaker, a young Jewish counterterrorism expert from France, recalled his anguished but resolute response to the killings in France.
“I realized things are going to change, there will be more attacks from time to time,” he said in the matter-of-fact way that Israelis talk of living with terrorism. “And that we should not panic or leave, because it’s not the end of the world.”