VIENNA, 8 November 2010 – Schools across the OSCE region must step up efforts to combat anti-Semitism through education, said participants in an OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) meeting for education ministry officials and experts held today in Vienna.
The meeting, which takes place ahead of the anniversary of the November pogrom in Nazi Germany in 1938, aims to identify successful approaches, share good practices, and discuss challenges in the field of combating anti-Semitism through education.
Rabbi Baker, the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairmanship on Combating Anti-Semitism, said education was a fitting tool to combat racism and intolerance.
“Prejudice, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism are surely bred from ignorance. Consider that anti-Semitism is present and even at distressingly high levels in some countries which today have very few Jews,” he said, adding that education to combat anti-Semitism should include, in addition to Holocaust education, Jewish history and lessons for the present generation that encompasses the current problems of anti-Semitism.
Austria’s Education Minister, Claudia Schmied, who opened the meeting, said no country could fight anti-Semitism effectively by itself.
“Violations of human rights, of the rule of law and of democratic processes are not just issues of the internal politics of one state, but have international repercussions, which demand international monitoring,” she said. “This is particularly true of anti-Semitism with its long unfortunate tradition in Western civilization. If we want to win the fight against anti-Semitism we have to co-operate on an international level.”
ODIHR has worked with governments in 10 OSCE participating States on educational programmes to address anti-Semitism, including through the development of customized teaching materials for secondary schools. In a further four countries – Austria, Latvia, Hungary and Sweden – customized teaching tools are currently under preparation.