ENCATE Network Meeting 2021 in Brussels: we finally meet in person!

In November 2021, ENCATE conducted its third network meeting in Brussels. The participants of the meeting, representatives of the member organizations, and guest speakers were excited to meet in person after a long time in which only online meetings were possible. It is no surprise that an in-person gathering helped foster a networking atmosphere, which is hard to come by digitally. Creating such an atmosphere was one of the main goals of the meeting, along with an informative and productive discussion about the current issues of antisemitism and the identifying of actionable steps for future cooperation between the member organizations.

We began the meeting by introducing the member organizations, some of which have joined ENCATE recently (Zachor Foundation, CDEC, Centropa), and their work over the past year. We then had two highly engaging peer-led sessions: “Israel-Palestine – Tackling Antisemitism and Islamophobia,” given by Ali Amla from Solutions not Sides, and “Intersectionality and Jews” offered by Camila Piastro and Daniel Heller from CEJI. Both sessions launched exciting discussions among the participants about two currently much-debated issues. The second day of the meeting began with a presentation of the new EU strategy for combating antisemitism, given by Pascal Falek, a Policy Officer at the European Commission, DG Justice. The presentation informed the participants about resources, funding, and support opportunities at the EU level. Next, we explored cooperation possibilities with Jewish organizations and worked to identify further stakeholders that we, as a network, could reach out to.

The main topics discussed on the second day of the meeting were intertwined with the former session on intersectionality. The relation between different forms of discrimination, such as racism and antisemitism, discourses of left-wing activist circles, and the overlooking of antisemitism that often occurs were some of the central points brought forth. Gideon Querido van Frank, curator of the exhibition “Are Jews White?” at the Jewish Museum in Amsterdam, presented his essay, which sparked a debate that turned to an exhibition. We then had representatives from the European Network Against Racism, Nadia Asri, Network Development Officer, and Mahmoud AbuRahma, Impact and Process Officer – Deputy Director, present ENAR´s work and its recent developments.

We dedicated the last day of the meeting to an open space session and action planning. During the open space session, the participants discussed different topics such as ethical dilemmas concerning cooperation with various partners, the application of intersectionality to central and eastern Europe, the Israel-Palestinian conflict, strategies to unite the fight against different forms of discrimination, and more. Finally, at the very last session, we looked at the plans of each organization for the upcoming year and identified possible cooperation opportunities. All in all, it was a successful meeting full of insights and ideas for the year ahead. More than anything, it reminded us of the quality of in-person meetings and the irreplaceable social elements that accompany any gathering. This meeting could not have happened without the dedicated support and efforts of our colleagues at CEJI and the support of the German Foreign Office. We are grateful to both and hope to be able to meet again in 2022.