Voices of Tolerance from Promoting Tolerance Anniversary
Learn about the vision, goals and impact of the Promoting Tolerance programme over the course of the last 25 years. Why tolerance is still needed and relevant today, especially in light of the challenges of the 21st century.
Find below the replies to these questions from high-level representatives from Friedrich Naumann Foundation and the American Jewish Committee.
Over the course of these 25 years, it has always been the Programme’s greatest mission to advocate for human rights, to foster pluralism, to improve the rights of minorities – in other words, to promote tolerance.
The programme is called Promoting Tolerance. But we want more than tolerance. We want understanding and appreciation of diversity, a realization that pluralism in society is something to be valued. So not just the matter of tolerating others, but fully accepting them. This has always been the goal of the Promoting Tolerance programme.
We want to fight racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. We would like societies to be more open to the full integration of minorities.
Promoting Tolerance is a very “retail” programme. What we are investing here is investing in people. Our hope is that the people that are identified to participate will have the ability to observe, learn from the US and bring something back to their countries. And thereby, they will hopefully make contributions and positive changes in their own societies.
We bring emerging leaders from Eastern Europe to the US to learn first-hand how a multi-ethnic society is integrating its minorities.
We need to teach each generation to interpret and define democracy, liberal values, civil and human rights, justice; to discover it for themselves and to find ways it is appropriate for their generation. It is a never ending task. That’s why this Programme remains relevant now and in the future.
Tolerance is something that you do not get in your genes. Tolerance is a question of education. You can learn tolerance and how to tolerate certain phenomena you do not agree with.
What we – as citizens, activists and politicians – can do is to take stock of the situation and show zero tolerance to xenophobia. We cannot allow that xenophobia and intolerance puts our liberal democratic values at risk. This call goes out to all democratic parties, movements and individuals. However, as Liberals, we have a particular responsibility in confronting bigotry and xenophobia in the face of rising populism.
To really change attitudes and the climate of how people look at others, it is a hard job and it takes time… It has turned out to be a lot longer and harder that we had imagined. This is one of the lessons that we take from this Programme.
The values that we Liberals represent – an open society, the defense of minority rights, the freedom of the individual and tolerance – are declared enemies of xenophobic, populist movements. Our values directly contradict xenophobia and intolerance.
Never take democracy for an assumption! This is a guiding principle for both AJC and FNF.
Promoting Tolerance programme is even more relevant today, because of the rise of nationalism and populism.
25 years later Promoting Tolerance remains as relevant today as ever. We need more than ever to encourage young people to become part of their democracy, society, to take a stand, to learn how to debate in a way that respects the opinion of the others.
This is really a programme that it is worth to continue without time limitations. There is always a need for it.
As once was said, the dividing line will not be between East and West, or between religions, but it will be between closed and open societies.
Promoting tolerance is relevant today, because it is continuously under threat.
Promoting tolerance is relevant today, because we are still faced with a lot of xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism.
Both – bigotry and xenophobia – are enemies of tolerance, democracy and open societies. Both represent radical world views. And far more dangerous. Both represent rather closed world views that leave very little room for different arguments and opinions.
Openness and dialogue are the best ways to confront intolerance and bigotry. I like to believe that there is no alternative to dialogue. People, who talk to each other, do not shoot each other.
Tolerance today is in short supply.
Let us hope that this Programme for many decades in the future helps ever more people to integrate the guiding principles of Western liberalism into their lives.
In Hebrew there is a saying when one reaches an important milestone: “May you go from strength to strength!”. Let’s hope that the Programme will continue to have strength in this collaboration many years into the future.
Watch below voices of tolerance in a series of videos, devoted to the quarter of a century of the Programme. The videos include full recordings of the keynote speeches, the panel discussion and a series of interviews with high-level guests, alumni, panellists, current fellows, FNF and AJC representatives. All videos can be found in the YouTube playlist below on our FreedomTV Europe channel.