The British former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is to take a new role in combating Anti-Semitism in Europe, just days after stepping down as the international community’s Middle East envoy.
Blair will chair the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, a group which champions legislation and dialogue on tolerance. He takes over from former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski as chairman of the ECTR.
He will head a board that includes former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and ex-Swedish PM Goran Persson.
The European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation describes itself as a non-partisan and non-governmental institution. “It is envisaged to be an opinion-making and advisory body on international tolerance promotion, reconciliation and education. It fosters understanding and tolerance among peoples of various ethnic origin; educates on techniques of reconciliation; facilitates post-conflict social apprehensions; monitors chauvinistic behaviors, proposes protolerance initiatives and legal solutions.”
Writing in The Times newspaper, Blair and businessman Moshe Kantor have argued that racism in the name of religion must be tackled with new laws.
They cited a report by the Kantor Center at Tel Aviv University, which found 2014 was one of the worst years in the past decade for Anti-Semitic incidents.
“As has been said before, but is worth repeating, prejudice and racism often starts with the softest targets, be it Jews or others, but it never ends there. Antisemitism is not a Jewish problem, but one infecting the whole of society and needs to be tackled for the sake of us all,” they wrote.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomed Mr Blair’s appointment.
Senior Vice President Richard Verber said Mr Blair has “proved himself a good friend of the Jewish community” and was “well-placed to bring his experience to the fight against Anti-Semitism and intolerance”.
He won’t be paid in his new role, but his faith foundation will receive an annual donation, according to reports.