Koenders: Never give up the fight against anti-Semitism

‘We must never give up the fight against racism and anti-Semitism. We owe that to the millions of people who died in the Holocaust in Nazi extermination camps.’ These were the words of foreign minister Bert Koenders after he received a guided tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem on Thursday.

‘We must always remember the horrors of the Second World War. Even now, decades on, they serve as a potent warning,’ Mr Koenders said. The minister was deeply impressed by the museum, where he laid a wreath to remember all victims of the Holocaust.

The minister expressed his concerns about growing anti-Semitism in the Netherlands and in the rest of Europe. ‘While it primarily affects Jewish communities, anti-Semitism is a threat to society as a whole,’ he said. He also emphasised how important it is that the international community opposes anti-Semitism, as part of defending shared freedom, security and universal values.

‘Anti-Semitism must not be tolerated in our societies,’ Mr Koenders said. ‘We need to be tough on anti-Jewish aggression and never give in to the terror of intolerance.’ He also called for inter-religious dialogue. ‘Talking with each other creates greater mutual understanding. So we need to press on with dialogue as a way of building bridges.’

Mr Koenders also believes that discrimination and anti-Semitism need to be addressed through joint action at EU level. The Netherlands will therefore be raising the issue of anti-Semitism during its EU Presidency in the first half of 2016. ‘We aim to have EU member states share best practices in combating discrimination and anti-Semitism so we can learn from each other’s experience.’