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EU unveils new strategy to tackle rising antisemitism in Europe

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By Euronews with AP
Two ultra-Orthodox Jewish men are pictured in Antwerp, Belgium.
Two ultra-Orthodox Jewish men are pictured in Antwerp, Belgium.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File
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The European Union has unveiled a new strategy to combat growing antisemitism and hate speech in Europe.

The bloc said on Tuesday that it plans to raise awareness about Jewish life, protect places of worship and ensure that the Holocaust cannot be forgotten.

The European Commission said the measures were introduced given the "persistence and a significant increase of anti-Semitic incidents".

According to Europe’s Fundamental Rights Agency, 90 percent of Jews consider that antisemitism has increased in their country and is a serious problem. More than one in three people have considered emigrating to escape the abuse.

"The strategy we are presenting today is a step-change in how we respond to antisemitism," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

"Europe can only prosper when its Jewish communities feel safe and prosper."

What is the new strategy?

Under the plan, the Commission will use EU funds to support member countries as they develop their own national strategies against antisemitism.

The aim is to set up a Europe-wide network of "trusted flaggers" along with Jewish organisations to help remove illegal online hate speech.

Brussels will also work with industry and IT companies to prevent the illegal display and online sale of Nazi-related symbols, memorabilia, and literature.

Funding will be provided to better protect public spaces and places of worship to help Jewish people feel safer, with €24 million available already next year.

Other steps will be taken to safeguard Jewish heritage and raise awareness about Jewish culture, life, and traditions.

The Commission also wants to create a network of sites "where the Holocaust happened" in cooperation with local communities, to keep the memory of the genocide alive.

Another focus of the plan is to ensure that EU aid and development funds that go abroad cannot be used for activities that might incite hatred and violence against the Jewish people.

More reports of anti-semitism in Europe

A leading Jewish group in Germany said it was shocked at reports that a German-Israeli singer was turned away from a hotel because he was wearing a Star of David pendant.

Gil Ofarim shared a video on Instagram on Tuesday showing him in front of the Westin hotel in the eastern German city of Leipzig.

Ofarim said a hotel employee asked him to put away his necklace before checking in.

The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, responded on Twitter, saying "the antisemitic hostility against Gil Ofarim is appalling".

The Westin Leipzig told The Associated Press that it was "concerned and alarmed by the intolerable accusations" and had launched an investigation.

Meanwhile, anti-semitic graffiti has been discovered in barracks at the Auschwitz II-Birkenau site.

The Memorial and Museum running the site released a statement on Tuesday and condemned the act as "outrageous."

"An offense against the Memorial Site is above all, an outrageous attack on the symbol of one of the greatest tragedies in human history and an extremely painful blow to the memory of all the victims of the German Nazi Auschwitz-Birkenau camp," the memorial site said on Twitter.

The memorial said that police are analysing the graffiti and added that security measures at the site were being expanded.