Address by EJC President Moshe Kantor at the Annual Dinner of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. May 5, 2015
Your Grace, my Lords, Excellences, ladies and gentlemen, members and leaders of the Board of Deputies, dear friends.
I am honoured to be sharing the floor tonight with his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Not only because my family name is “Kantor” and famous English district “Canterbury” has the same phonetical root “Cantor”! But mainly because for both of us concept of Tolerance and Reconciliation are the subject of concentrated long term interest and practice.
It is a great privilege for me to address this most esteemed of Jewish representative organisations.
Over its three hundred and fifty-year history, the Board of Deputies has shown a tireless commitment to the welfare of the Jewish communities of the United Kingdom and to the British society as a whole.
I would like to thank my dear friend Vivian Wineman for his outstanding contribution and commitment to his own community here in Britain and also for all his support for our work across Europe in the European Jewish Congress.
Vivian is not only my neighbour and my deputy. He is also a wonderful sportsman. We all know that in order to be a Jewish leader, one needs to have the health, energy, patience and determination of an Olympic champion!
Vivian is a real Olympic Champion of modest patience to please us Jews which is almost mission impossible!
Three times I was elected as a President of European Jewish Congress as representative of Russia, then as Swiss, the last time as a representative of Board of Deputies of British Jews. For me it was a great Honour to represent the oldest and the most reputable community in the world.
Your Grace, a few days ago I was listening to your last Holy lecture on Reconciliation. It was a non-stop pleasure that lasted 41’ and 36”. For me it was a real master class!
May be you know for the last almost 10 years I am the Head of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation combining Presidents and Prime Ministers of the whole of Europe.
But even for me your speech was absolutely unpredictable, conclusions not expected and that is why it was so important and valid. But not only surprise of analyses and synthesis delivered so cold added value.
I heard with admiration how harmonically you formulated 6 “R” as 6 components of the Reconciliation. With your permission and permission of my dear colleagues I will remind the list:
#4 risk (accepting)
#5 reconciliation itself (like Germans are accepted by Russian and Jews)
Please accept my dearest respect and compliments and allow me to say few words about the Tolerance as a soil where the tree of Reconciliation should develop!
But what is Tolerance indeed?
Tolerance is when you allow something or somebody to exist and realize itself without deep understanding, the nature of phenomena – like you allow the existence of the life itself.
It is the first step on the path to the final product which we call Reconciliation.
The last 70 years were spent in Europe under strong influence of the following paradigm: “Society will enjoy as much Tolerance as possible” and as a result we have today so dangerous impact of the multiculturalism.
What does it mean; unlimited to racism, xenophobia, terror and anti- Semitism?
The new European paradigm should be correct by the demand of security. In this case we come to the concept of Secure Tolerance.
By that we immediately go from intension to be nice to parameters of social and legal standards.
But a few words about the situation in Europe today. Three times during the last 100 years the annual growth of GDP went below 1%:
in 1913 before WW1
in 1938 before WW2
and just now in 2014
We have so called lost young generation which does not see any opportunities to reach the economic level of their parents. This is the best possible situation for the ultra-rights. At the same time we have a dramatic increase in neo – Nazism, religious radicalism, anti – Israelism and anti- Semitism.
My partner is Luxembourg Forum preventing the nuclear catastrophe the former US defence minister Bill Perry says “during his term the world 3 times did escape from the nuclear WW3 not because of the professionalism but by chance!”
Religious radicalism in Europe today is not less dangerous than nuclear weapons. And for religious radicalism should be established the similar regime of non-proliferation as we did for nuclear weapons.
And here we again come back to the talk about parameters of secure tolerance as we do with mass murder in technologies.
Just a word about anti-Israelism: Europe should remember very well the country that is keeping the nuclear umbrella to protect Europe is Israel.
According to the recent annual report on global anti-Semitic incidents during 2014 by the Kantor Centre at Tel Aviv University, the highest number of violent attacks were registered in France: 164 compared to 141 in 2013. Actually not much higher than in the UK: 141 in 2014 up from 95 in 2013.
However, interestingly, if you take into consideration the number of attacks and the size of the Jewish population, there have been 23% more attacks in the UK than in France, 165% more than in Hungary or the USA.
There are two sides of this picture. First, there is a genuine threat – from internal anti-Semitism and from even more deadly terrorist attacks we witnessed recently in Paris and Copenhagen.
But second, this high figure is also – and we should admit this – a result of a far higher level of awareness, a willingness to report hate crime and because of the professional monitoring work of the CST.
So 2014 was a very difficult year for British Jewry, despite the remarkable concrete steps taken by the British government to fight radicalism and extremism.
Once the Rabbi was asked:
‘Why the Jewish babies are so active all their future lives if exactly on the 9th day after birth they swim in the Dead Sea?’
And the Rabbi being so tired of nasty fellow replied:
‘Because the day before they had their Brit (So-n)’
I wish all of us to be active, healthy, lucky and happy. Motivated not by salts of the Dead Sea but by a deep and wise understanding of how important the art, practice and mastery of Tolerance and Reconciliation is.
But anti-semitism is not the Jewish sickness but a society sickness. And all society should be treated urgently and long term.
So to conclude the talk about Secure Tolerance as a soil for reconciliation, I would like to make the list of 4 needed components:
#1. Modernisation of the tolerance legislation with the main points:
limits of tolerance by demand of security
no tolerance to somebody intolerant even at the level of intensions, not necessary at the level of actions
#2. Education from preschool to university. We started this programme in Great Britain and with great pleasure I will present to His Grace today the 1st lecture on Secure Tolerance.
#3. International coordination of all forces against radicals including police, army, intelligence and etc focused on the earliest possible stages of preventing. Very important to institutionalise these efforts on max wide horizon. For example EU, Israel and Russia.
#4. Interfaith dialogue, because to oppose our common opponents religious radicals, neo-Nazists and others proactive solidarity is not only achievable but very effective.
And, Your Grace, EJC on behalf of 3 million European Jews ask for your partnership.