A two-day seminar was launched on Tuesday aimed at raising awareness and training police officers on indentifying, investigating and dealing with antisemitic behaviours.
The seminar, titled “Antisemitism and Counteraction” takes place at the Police Headquarters in Nicosia and it is a cooperation between the Cyprus Police and the Embassy of Israel in Cyprus.
During the seminar, in which dozens of police officers participate, a series of lectures are taking place by Israeli academics on the historical roots of anti-Semitism in Europe and its manifestations in modern society, as well as on the internet, both in Europe and in the United States.
Israel’s Ambassador to Cyprus, Oren Anolik, in his address, said that antisemitic tendencies have been strengthening in recent years, and that, 2021 was the worst year of the last decade in recording anti-Semitic behaviour in Europe.
The answer to this new wave of hatred and intolerance is knowledge, he said, adding that by learning the historical roots of anti-Semitism, we can understand the phenomenon today.
He stressed the importance of the exchange of ideas to raise awareness about such behaviours and distorted beliefs, in order to deal more effectively with such phenomena, and underlined the value of the efforts made by Cyprus in this direction.
The Ambassador made a special reference, to the contribution of Cyprus’ Education Ministry to preserving the memory of the Holocaust, and thanked the Minister of Justice, the Cyprus Police and the Foreign Ministry that supported the organisation of the seminar.
In her own address, Justice Minister Stephie Dracos, stressed that all kinds of racism and discrimination must be dealt with immediately and effectively in order to prevent the resurgence of painful experiences of the past.
The purpose of the seminar, she added, is to raise awareness among the members of the Cyprus Police, in order to identify, investigate and bring to justice cases of anti-Semitism.
She also reminded that in December 2020 the Council of Ministers adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism, while in January 2022, it adopted the working definition of Holocaust Denial and Distortion.
Cyprus Police Chief, Stylianos Papatheodorou, stressed the need to preserve the historical memory of the Holocaust, in order not to see the repetition of similar heinous actions. He added that anti-Semitism seems to be on the rise in Europe and referred to an FRA report for 2019, which records that 44% of young Jews in Europe have suffered at least one anti-Semitic incident.
Regarding Cyprus, he said that no anti-Semitic cases have been recorded, but that 40 and 41 incidents and / or cases of a racist and / or racist motive have been recorded for the years 2019 and 2020, respectively.
Regarding the training of members of the security forces, he said that until today anti-Semitism was part of the broader framework of educational programmes on racism and xenophobia and that it is the first time that a specialised programme on anti-Semitism is being conducted.
The Police Chief said that in the context of preventive and repressive measures to avoid unpleasant incidents related to anti-Semitism, the Jewish synagogues have been included in the patrol schedules while security measures are also being applied during activities by the Israeli Embassy.
He expressed the conviction that the suggestions of the speakers would provide food for thought and raise awareness on the matter. Apart from the training of the police, he added, the change of mentality at the level of society is particularly important, in order to condemn anti-Semitism, fanaticism and any manifestation of racism.