Promoting Tolerance: Against Anti-Semitism and Minorities' Marginalization
Promoting Tolerance - this is the main theme of a successful transatlantic, German-Jewish cooperative project carried out by the Foundation for Freedom and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) for nearly two decades now. Young political, academic, and civil society leaders from the CESE region worked on this year's topic - “Enhancing Pluralism and Religious Tolerance: How to Do It”. Then, as project members do every year, they travelled in November to several cities in the U.S. on a study trip made possible by the AJC and the Foundation’s Transatlantic Dialogue programme.
Through many practical examples, the participants learned how politicians and civil society in the USA deal with issues such as pluralism, minorities, and equality. While Jewish life and culture got special attention, the group studied issues such as racism, the importance of the LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) and the problem of ethnic minority criminality by using Los Angeles as an example.
In Washington DC they visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum for a discussion and in New York City, they walked through lower Manhattan in the footsteps of the “Immigrant Communities” and then considered the situation of Muslims in the US with a Muslim professor. For the 14 participants, there was a lot of new information, questions, criticism, suggestions and above all, material for comparison with the realities back in their home countries, which this year were Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Hungary and Slovakia.
David Harris, executive director of the AJC, emphasized the importance of having a long-term and, therefore, sustainable, German-Jewish programme of transatlantic dialogue that would strengthen pluralism and tolerance in the European transition countries. The participants returned home not only with many happy memories, but also with many ideas for initiatives, including cross-border projects whose goals are to fight marginalization and discrimination and to make active contributions to the enforcement of civil rights, equality and integration for all segments of society in their home countries.
Dr. René Klaff, Regional Director CESE