WASHINGTON, DC, December 17, 2018 - On Thursday, December 13th, diplomats representing twelve countries in Europe, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia participated in an all-day program convened by NCSEJ on the history of Jewish life and contemporary anti-Semitism in their countries. The program was made possible by the generous support of the Koret Foundation.
Guest speakers Vadim Altskan of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Izabella Tabarovsky of the Kennan Institute gave presentations on "The Jews of East Central Europe Between the Word Wars," and "From the Holocaust to Today: The Challenges of Contemporary Anti-Semitism." NCSEJ CEO Mark Levin and Deputy Director Lesley Weiss moderated a conversation about best practices for addressing anti-Semitism in the Eurasian region.
This program builds on NCSEJ’s valuable network of relationships within the diplomatic community in Washington, D.C. NCSEJ regularly consults with embassies about reported acts of anti-Semitism, desecration of Jewish sites, Holocaust distortion, issues affecting Israel at the United Nations, and other problems confronting the Jewish communities in their countries.
The Colloquium is aimed at increasing diplomats' awareness of the Jewish experience in their national histories and providing an opportunity to address contemporary anti-Semitism. It also offers insights into the organization and diversity of the American Jewish community.
Opening the program, NCSEJ Deputy Director Lesley Weiss said, “This colloquium provides an opportunity to look at the issues that NCSEJ and others in the community call upon you to address most frequently and to understand why these issues are important to the American Jewish community and the Jewish communities in your own countries.”
Thursday's discussion was shaped by the upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks and rhetoric in Europe over the past year.
Several members of the Colloquium noted recent successful initiatives by their countries in encouraging education about the Holocaust by partnering with local Jewish communities. These included promoting tours of Jewish sites, hosting Jewish cultural events, and encouraging students to study the history of Jewish life in their cities and towns.
The participation of thirteen diplomats, including two Ambassadors, underscores their commitment to work with NCSEJ and their own Jewish communities to educate about and combat anti-Semitism. The participating Embassies were Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Tajikistan, and Ukraine.