Published on 26 October 2023

Crif - Special Envoys and Coordinators Combating Antisemitism (SECCA) met in Paris

On Tuesday October 24, Special envoys and coordinators for the fight against antisemitism met in Paris under the aegis of the World Jewish Congress, the European Commission and UNESCO.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay gravely opened the Special Envoys and Coordinators Combating Antisemitism (SECCA) meeting. She stressed the importance of holding this session at a time when antisemitism is resurgent throughout the world.
Katharina von Schnurbein, European Commission Coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life, also took the floor to thank the national special envoys and the representatives of the world's Jewish communities. Before the speeches began, Maram Stern, Executive Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), asked the assembly to observe a moment of silence in tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Israel of October 7. 
Around the table, the representatives of the Jewish communities, seated next to the special envoys, looked grave. Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, US special envoy against antisemitism, invited them to speak. 
Crif, represented by Marie-Sarah Seeberger, in charge of International Affairs, was invited to open the discussion*. She highlighted the sense of loneliness felt by many French Jews since October 7. Marie-Sarah Seeberger also recalled the anti-Semitic figures for the last 15 days: over 580 antisemitic incidents, more than the total number of anti-Semitic incidents for the year 2022.
Mathias Dreyfuss, representing DILCRAH, and Delphine Borione, French Ambassador for Human Rights, were present to represent France at the SECCA meeting.
In the afternoon, a session was dedicated to the issue of online hate and artificial intelligence. META France representatives took part in the panel.

At the end of the day, a cultural event dedicated to the Sephardic Jewish cultural heritage concluded the day.

*Speech by the Crif representative Marie-Sarah Seeberger at the SECCA meeting: 

"Crif President Yonathan Arfi is currently on a plane back from Israel where he led a delegation of representatives of the French Jewish community to show our support and solidarity with Israel and the Israelis.

Because I am not the President of an organization, I can speak to you today on a more personal note.

I’ve been working at Crif for 6 years. But I’ve been involved with and for the Jewish people my whole life.

On October 7, something broke inside me forever. A certain faith in humanity.

Since then, the world has been watching what happens on this little piece of earth. 

The world has watched with fear, then with compassion, then with an ounce of skepticism and now with increasingly ambiguous words to condemn the unthinkable.

How does that make me feel? Not good. Even worst, I feel lonely. And yet, I have 15 million sisters and brothers around the world. 

So many, yet so few.

I feel lonely when thousands of people gather in my country to chant that Israel must disappear. I hate realising that being Jewish in France in 2023 is receiving messages asking to not go in some districts of Paris because of these protests.

I feel lonely when my non-Jewish friends don't text me to check up on me and my family. I feel lonely when, at a rally for hostages, I see only Jews. I feel lonely when governments aren't perfectly clear about the situation or when French parlientaries members refuse to call Hamas for what they are: terrorists. 

And I also feel lonely when I have to tell you that over 500 antisemitic incidents have taken place in France in the last two weeks. That's more than the total number of anti-Semitic incidents in France in 2022.

Crif and the french Jewish institutions are working together to ensure the safety of the French Jews, together with the Ministry of Interior. 

On October 7, at 8am, the first thing that Crif President Arfi did was to call the Minister of Interorir to ask to reinforce the security in front of the Jewish places in France. That is not normal. But, unfortunately, we are use to it.

I know the situation is not brighter around the world, especially on campuses where Jewish students have to fight for who they are on a daily basis. 

We all have seen the images and the captions since October 7. And there is no word that can be added to the absolute horror. 

However, here we are today. I believe this SECCA meeting is, maybe more than ever, not only necessary but essential.

To talk together, to clearly understand what is at stake right now and to show the World that Jews are not alone, and shouldn't ever feel lonely.

Thank you"