A Statement to Jewish Youth General Assembly

Heidi Hautala sent a statement to the European Jewish Education & Youth General Assembly, organized by the European Council of Jewish Communities in Paris, 3th-5th of April:[:]Dear Friends,

I am most honoured to have been invited to address the European Jewish Education & Youth General Assembly, organised by the European Council of Jewish Communities.

You gather in the city of Paris, discussing such important issues as education, social welfare, culture, civil society and capacity building. In my work, these are key themes, and nothing less than a foundation block for all we do in the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, which I chair.  

The issue of minorities and ethnic and religious groups is present in the every day life of Europe. Ethnic, cultural and religious perceptions and view points have been presented as both causes and outcomes of ills of the society and struggle of individuals. Yet, despite persistently maintained, we must never accept this hypothesis, not in Europe or anywhere else; Muslims, Christians and Jews can live together in Europe as well as in Israel and Palestine. We must never accept the long struggle in Israel as one between religions or ethnicities, rather, we must see tolerance and understanding between religions and ethnicities as a solution.  

For us in the human rights practice, all this is clear. There is no clash between ethnicities, there is no cultural juxtaposition and there is no justification for religious strife. None of such ill consideration would be merited.  

I applaud your efforts to address exactly this issue but appreciate that the challenge is great. But I share your determination and commitment to beat the ill of prejudice, misunderstanding, neglect and misinforming.  

Education is the foundation of a society where all groups can live in harmony and thrive to the best of their abilities. Let us recall that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that every individual shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for the rights and freedoms contained in the Declaration. Dear friends in this regards, we should not overlook the importance of educating people on the principles of human rights. Indeed, the World Conference on Human Rights in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (in particular, para. 33 of Section I ) stated that human rights education is essential for fostering mutual understanding, tolerance and peace.   

To touch upon another matter you will be discussing in your General Assembly – only by ensuring access to education and enshrining the fundamental values into this, will enable the societies be rich in culture and strong in unity.