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Education officials stress need to combat antisemitism in schools at OSCE/ODIHR meeting


Schools across the OSCE region must step up efforts to combat antisemitism through education, said participants in an OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) meeting for education ministry officials and experts held in Vienna.

The meeting aimed to identify successful approaches, share good practices, and discuss challenges in the field of combating antisemitism through education.

Rabbi Baker, the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairmanship on Combating Antisemitism, said education was a fitting tool to combat racism and intolerance.

"Prejudice, xenophobia, and antisemitism are surely bred from ignorance. Consider that antisemitism is present and even at distressingly high levels in some countries which today have very few Jews," he said, adding that education to combat antisemitism should include, in addition to Holocaust education, Jewish history and lessons for the present generation that encompasses the current problems of antisemitism.

Austria's Education Minister, Claudia Schmied, who opened the meeting, said no country could fight antisemitism 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 antisemitism with its long unfortunate tradition in Western civilization. If we want to win the fight against antisemitism we have to cooperate on an international level."

ODIHR has worked with governments in 10 OSCE participating States on educational programmes to address antisemitism, 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.