David O'Sullivan.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Friends of Europe, used under CC BY

European ambassadors stressed the importance of confronting antisemitism, hate speech, terrorism and extremism in a panel discussion Wednesday at the US Holocaust Museum marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"There is a rise of antisemitism in Europe that will not be tolerated in our country and cannot be tolerated in our society," said Peter Wittig, German ambassador to the United States. "We are dedicated to combatting antisemitism."

Gerard Araud, French ambassador to the US, and David O'Sullivan, European Union ambassador to the US, joined Wittig in the discussion, which focussed on the importance of coming together in welcoming immigrants into their countries.

"The issue of Syrian refugees has brought out the best and the worst in us. How we manage the situation going forward is where we need a coordinated European response," O'Sullivan said.

All the ambassadors discussed the rise of antisemitism and how attacks on Jewish people will be taken as attacks on all European nations and the US.

O'Sullivan and Araud both touched on the rise of extremism and hate speech through the internet. They agreed that by working with US information technology companies they will be able to reach a conclusion on how to address and combat hate speech, extremism and even terrorism online.

"We must combat the rise of xenophobia by taking attacks on Jews as attacks on all of us. We must outlaw the hate crimes of hate speech and address online hate speech," O'Sullivan said.

All ambassadors urged the importance of educating their citizens on the Holocaust and on other historical events as a way to address antisemitism, hate speech, terrorism and extremism.

"There is no personal guilt of generations in Germany today, but the issue of the Holocaust keeps being discussed because of the efforts of leaders and the press. We need it to keep the memory alive," Wittig said.

Araud stressed the importance of education as a form of remembrance.

He said in France classes are offered to teach about the immorality of racism, noting that many immigrants arriving France do not know how to live in an open society with different values. The classes are a way to teach enlighten participants and discourage racism and extremism.

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