Today Viatcheslav Kantor is known in the international public arena as the president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), but no less important is the fact that he is one of the founders of the European Council for Tolerance or ECTP.
And the very topic of tolerance is no less important to him than the idea of combating hatred. All the more so because, according to Vyacheslav Kantor, these topics remain very closely intertwined and interrelated.
In 2010, at a meeting with the then president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, Viatcheslav Kantor expressed his idea of creating a University for Secure Tolerance, because tolerance is just science, and the need for it is becoming more and more obvious the more intolerance, xenophobia and anti-Semitism grows in society.
Vyacheslav Kantor. Photo: Yandex Images
Kantor sees this growth as a direct consequence of the fact that the notion of tolerance has been greatly undervalued in contemporary society.
Often there is an opinion at community and even governmental level that there cannot be much tolerance and the more of it the better. However, the president of the EJC and the ECTP himself does not agree with this position and draws a parallel with snake venom in medicine.
A sufficiently limited amount turns this substance into medicine, but an overabundance poses an undeniable danger and turns into a life-threatening poison.
Tolerance cannot spread unlimitedly, it must exist in balance with safety considerations, Vyacheslav Kantor is convinced. The current state of affairs is such that these concepts are inseparable, and on a very global scale.
Today, security is difficult to ensure within national borders, it has become global and consists of so many factors that it is naive to believe that a single country can fully ensure this security independently of the rest of the world.
And it is precisely the balance between this global security and no less global and necessary tolerance that the relevant research should find. For the latter Vyacheslav Kantor suggested creating special programs at European universities and supporting those researchers who take up this difficult topic.
Tolerance also needs other support, namely legislative support, noted Kantor. The European Commission had already announced in 2008 that Europe needed a law on tolerance. This law was supposed to protect the democratic norms of mutual respect and tolerance and to prevent the spread of hatred and discrimination of any kind.
The law itself has not yet been adopted, but Vyacheslav Kantor is convinced that European governments themselves are capable of taking a step in this direction. In particular, the introduction of a special code for EU members on the observance of these very principles of tolerance could be a signal of how seriously Europe stands against the emerging trends of hatred and anti-Semitism.
Hate does not need support in order to flourish, says Kantor. In this it is comparable to weeds. Disinformation, stereotypes, xenophobia, extremism and terrorism all spring up and proliferate on their own.
Tolerance, on the other hand, like any civilized cultural plant, needs support and nourishment. The key role here is played by the will of society and its leaders, Vyacheslav Kantor is sure, including the legislative will. After all, the very fertile ground on which tolerance can grow and take roots can be created by adopting the right laws in society.