Combatting antisemitism and safeguarding Jewish cultural heritage in Europe

EEA and Norway Grants

Antisemitism is one of the most alarming examples of how prejudice can endure and linger on for centuries. Norway has supported and continue to support several initiatives through the EEA and Norway Grants to tackle antisemitism and to revive Jewish cultural heritage in Europe.

Credit: POLIN

Combating hate crime, discrimination and harassment is a shared European responsibility. The legal instruments are in place, yet antisemitism continues to be a reality across Europe.

In 2013, the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) interviewed some 6 000 Jews in eight European countries - home to 90% of Europe’s Jewish population. Its survey revealed worrying trends:

  • 76% said antisemitism has increased in their country over the past five years
  • Nearly half said they worried about being verbally insulted or harassed in public because they were Jewish
  • Three-quarters consider antisemitism online to be a problem
  • 64% of victims of anti-Semitic physical attack or threats of violence said that they did not report the most serious incident in the past five years

     Read more: Download the report from FRA

Heritage and diversity
Norway has through the EEA and Norway Grants earmarked over €200 million to cultural heritage and diversity programmes in 14 countries. A specific focus on Jewish cultural heritage is included in seven countries – Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia.

Safeguarding and raising awareness of Jewish influence on European history and heritage is an important way of improving tolerance and multicultural understanding and, in turn, combatting antisemitism.

In many of our restoration projects, synagogues are being revived for use also as creative spaces for artists, education and research centres and intercultural community centres, bringing longer-term benefits for community cohesion, social inclusion and multicultural awareness and tolerance.

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews is one of several beneficiaries of support. It functions as a cultural and educational centre. Their mission is to promote tolerance and to educate young people on how to live in today’s multicultural society in which different groups, customs, practices and religions function side by side.

€2,6 million is made available through the Norway Grants for the museum’s educational program. Workshops, lectures and panel discussions, activities in urban space, temporary exhibitions and a mobile exhibit traveling around Poland are included among the sponsored projects. More than 350 000 people in Poland and abroad will take advantage of the activities.

The program also includes cooperation with Norwegian partners: The Center for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities, the Jewish Museum in Oslo and in Trondheim, Falstad Centre and The European Wergeland Centre.

The collaboration has resulted in seminars for Polish and Norwegian teachers to share experiences on diversity in teaching and student exchanges between Norwegian and Polish schools.

It also includes tracking and documentation of Jews who migrated from Poland to Norway around 1900. Norwegian and Polish Jews experiences of antisemitism are also mapped in a separate interview project. The results will be used in both Polish and Norwegian schools.

Tolerance and dialogue
Promoting human rights and combating discrimination are a central focus of the NGO programmes established in all the 16 beneficiary countries of the EEA and Norway Grants. Worth almost €160 million, the programmes actively address extremism and intolerance, including antisemitism. Many activities have been organised by the NGO Operators in the beneficiary countries to stand up against hate speech, including active engagement in the Council of Europe’s NO HATE SPEECH campaign.

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