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Conference on Jewish Life and Antisemitism in Contemporary Europe


The Tom Lantos Institute, an independent human and minority rights organization based in Budapest, convened the Conference on Jewish Life and Antisemitism in Contemporary Europe to address the most pressing challenges and significant issues facing European Jewish communities today. 

The conference, which took place on 1-2 October at the Hungarian Parliament building in Budapest, was sponsored by the Hungarian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an interfaith coalition of business leaders who promote peace, tolerance, and ethnic conflict resolution; as well as the Lantos Foundation for Human rights and Justice, a human rights organization, founded by Katrina Lantos Swett, member of the Executive Committee of the Tom Lantos Institute, and daughter of US Congressman Tom Lantos.

The focus of the conference was two-fold. First, it addressed the alarming resurgence of antisemitism throughout Europe, including Hungary.  Second, it explored, from a number of perspectives, more hopeful and positive aspects of Jewish life in Europe.  Identity, culture, education, effective interest-protection and interfaith dialogue were among the topics discussed.  In addition to the high-level expert presentations, the conference aimed at generating and expressing a powerful political commitment for countering antisemitism in Hungary and Europe.

The opening ceremony and the following sessions included speeches by Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics, Israeli Minister of Finance Yair Lapid, Foreign Minister János Martonyi, Annette Lantos, widow of the late American congressman of Hungarian descent, and, Anna-Mária Bíró, Director of the Tom Lantos Institute. Speeches were also delivered by State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Zsolt Németh, Israeli Ambassador to Hungary Ilan Mor, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos and Cardinal Péter Erdő, who was also a trustee of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. Chairman of International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Mario Silva also delivered his remarks, together with Ira Forman, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism and Sir Andrew Burns, United Kingdom Envoy for Post-Holocaust issues.

On the first day of the conference around 300-350 people attended. On the second expert day more than 150 participants listened to the presentations and joined the discussions. Participants came from around 40 countries including the US, Canada, Israel, UK, France, Germany, Greece, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Croatia. Representatives of Jewish communities came from France and the United Kingdom and from the neighboring countries including Austria, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

The conference will be followed by a number of workshops with the aim of formulating policy recommendations or norms on select issues. The presentations delivered at the event will be gathered in a publication.

Funding of the conference was made possible by the sponsorship of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, civil society organizations, and private individuals.