Better education is the recipe against antisemitism
“The striking results of the Special Eurobarometer Report on Perceptions of antisemitism highlight the critical need for serious commitments by Ministries of Education and Culture to address the reality of antisemitism in Europe,” says Robin Sclafani, Director of CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe.
Of the 27,643 people interviewed across 28 Member States, only 3% of Europeans feel ‘very well informed’ about Jewish history, customs and practices, and 68% say they are ‘not informed’. This result is even more startling in the countries where there is generally a heightened perception of antisemitism as a growing problem: France, Germany and Sweden ranked among some of the least informed about Jewish history, customs and practices.
The lack of knowledge about Jews and Judaism should be considered as a contributing factor to the problem of antisemitism. Such knowledge will reduce the need to rely on limited and likely inaccurate information, such as stereotypes, conspiracy theories and biased media reports.
CEJI has been giving training on antisemitism to teachers, social workers and civil servants for the last twenty years and participants report again and again their knowledge up until the training was limited to the Holocaust, Israel and antisemitism. “There is a curiosity, in particular among those who are practicing another religion such as Islam or Christianity, to learn more about Jewish traditions, because they are eager to discover commonalities,” says Stephanie Lecesne, CEJI’s Training Coordinator.
Equally shocking in these results is the perceived proliferation of Holocaust denial: an average of 53% say Holocaust denial is a problem in their country, again with figures reaching between 71-79% in Sweden, France and Germany. That this is a problem even in countries where Holocaust education is a compulsory part of the curriculum demonstrates that Holocaust education needs to be done better or differently than how it has been done up until now. 
At the very least, the results of this Eurobarometer as well as the recent results of the Second survey on discrimination and hate crime against Jews in the EU published by the Fundamental Rights Agency in November 2018 highlight that Holocaust education in and of itself is not an antidote to antisemitism. There is clearly a need for complementary training, either in addition to or through Holocaust education, to ensure that students are not left with the impression that antisemitism is only a problem of the past.
Great strides have been made over the last two years in policies to address Jewish security, hate crime and online hate speech. However, despite public declarations by politicians and community leaders about the importance of education, there is still much to be done. The recent Resolution by the European Parliament and the Common Strategy adopted by the European Council both recognize this need, but the concrete policies and programmes which will fulfill these commitments are yet to be manifested. The recent UNESCO and OSCE-ODIHR co-published Education Policy Guidelines to address antisemitism are a good place to start, but the responsibility to implement such policies falls upon each Member State. CEJI, like other civil society organisations, are able to support Member States with a wealth of experience and educational tools.
CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe stands with individuals and organisations of all religions, cultures and backgrounds to promote a diverse and inclusive Europe. CEJI works to combat prejudice and discrimination and to promote social cohesion through training and education, dialogue initiatives and advocacy at a European level. CEJI is the initiator of Facing Facts and lead partner of the Facing all the Facts project.
For additional information or to arrange an interview please contact:
Julia Mozer, Communication Officer firstname.lastname@example.org
CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe
 For information on the state of Holocaust education across the EU, see the website of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance http://2015.holocaustremembrance.com/member-countries/