On November 21, the Action and Protection League (APL) hosted a conference and an exhibition opening ceremony on the importance of combating antisemitism through education together with MEP Tamás Deutsch and MEP György Hölvényi, at the European Parliament building in Strasbourg.
At the conference, which included panel discussions on the topic of Palestinian textbooks inciting hatred against Israelis, on the EU funds to the Palestinian Authority which are used to fund terrorists, and on the importance of education both regarding the Palestinian and the European textbooks, invited speakers discussed the experience gained in the processes and methods of reviewing school textbooks, as well as the impact, role and responsibility of political actors in the fight against antisemitism.
After the conference, an exhibition was opened on the process of reforming school textbooks to promote a positive representation of Judaism. Among others, speakers included Miklós Panyi, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Ferenc Olti, Head of the Jewish Education Experts.
In his speech, György Hölvényi, MEP of the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) and co-organiser of the conference stressed that Hungary presents the good practice that dialogue with the religious community can address antisemitism through education. Hölvényi highlights that schooling is about the fostering values of democracy, national identity and a wish to understand other people. He explains that it is the state’s responsibility to combat antisemitism and promote values in school curricula, and this responsibility cannot be outsourced, adding that it is the duty of every state to ensure that classrooms are places where radicalisation is combated.
MEP Tamás Deutsch, one of the co-organisers of the conference and the head of the Fidesz delegation to the European Parliament, stressed that the ruthless Hamas terrorist attack against Israeli civilians is unprecedented, unimaginable and should never have happened.
„It is the responsibility of all of us that such an incident never happens again. Hungary is committed to being a safe home for Hungarian Jews and Jewish Hungarians. More than a decade ago, the Hungarian government declared zero tolerance against antisemitism,” Deutsch said.
The MEP explained that the Action and Protection Foundation (TEV) was established to prevent antisemitic manifestations by providing authentic knowledge about Judaism and strengthening the identity and traditions of the Jewish community in Hungary. The Foundation has been involved in developing the Jewish-related curricula of the Hungarian national curriculum and in shaping the image of the Jewish people for future generations since 2012. Deutsch noted that the cooperation between the Hungarian government and the Hungarian Jewish community is not only unique in Europe, but also around the world.
Speakers included Miklós Panyi, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Ferenc Olti, Head of the Jewish Education Experts.
Exhibition opening on „Reforming school textbooks to ensure positive Jewish representation” Combating Antisemitism through Education | Exhibition opening on „Reforming school textbooks to ensure positive Jewish representation” Combating Antisemitism through Education | By Action and Protection League – APL | Facebook
Exhibition opening on „Reforming school textbooks to ensure positive Jewish representation” Combating Antisemitism through Education
On behalf of the Hungarian government, Miklós Panyi, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, underlined that the effects of the war between Israel and Hamas is shaking Europe’s foundation as well, resulting in an extreme rise of antisemitic actions. Panyi stressed that the fact that many European Jews are living in fear once again is shameful. „I believe this is shameful, I believe this is not a Europe we are pursuing, and I believe this is something we should step up and fight against.”
Ferenc Olti, Head of the Jewish Education Experts, stressed that education is the most important factor in preventing antisemitism. To this end, the Action and Protection Foundation has launched an initiative to broaden information about Judaism and the presentation of Jews in Hungarian curricula and textbooks. Olti pointed out that although education is a national competence, if the European Union does not move forward on education against antisemitism, the events we are witnessing will continue on the streets of Europe’s major cities.
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In Hungary, the Action and Protection Foundation (TEV) supported a unique programme which, in cooperation with Jewish communities and national educational authorities, has made it possible to present Jewish culture and history more accurately in the National Curriculum, the Framework Curriculum and school textbooks. The Ministry of Education accepted 80% of the proposals submitted by Jewish representatives. Thanks to professional cooperation, new school textbooks were published in 2016-2018, and new National Core Curricula and Framework Curricula were published. The revised textbooks were distributed to a total of 850,000 pupils.
In 2023, a new collaboration started, with the Hungarian government inviting the Action and Protection Foundation to work together again on the new National Curriculum. The aim of the Action and Protection Foundation and its European subsidiary, the Action and Protection League, is to take this successful concept and make it an initiative on a European level. Education in the EU is a national competence; still, in line with the EU Strategy to Combat Antisemitism and Promote Jewish Life (2021-2030), the EU has the possibility to support and encourage Member States in similar projects.
In his closing remarks, APL General Secretary Kálmán Szalai reaffirmed that it is necessary to spread the initiative successful in Hungary to all member states, calling the EU member states to action in this regard.