Russian-Jewish billionaire offers 1 million euro prize to battle extremism


MONACO (JTA) — European Jewish leader Moshe Kantor announced a 1 million euro prize for efforts to combat “isolationism and nationalism.”

The Kantor Prize for Secure Tolerance, launched on Tuesday at the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation in Monaco, will reward those who promote tolerance while addressing what the prize-givers consider the legitimate concerns of Europeans who feel immigration and other trends are compromising their security.

Kantor is president of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation. He also serves as president of the European Jewish Congress.

In a news release announcing the prize, former British prime minister and ECTR chairman Tony Blair said it was “essential we don’t sit back and let extremism and intolerance become an accepted part of our public discourse.” He added: “Co-existence is a vital universal value in a world where people of different cultures and religions mix, both on and offline, more than ever before [and] freedom of speech must be protected. But people have a right to feel safe in their homes and communities.”

Kantor said that more and more Europeans are feeling excluded as a result of the rapid technological and societal changes that have swept the continent. “Many, especially in Europe, feel disenfranchised and unable to have access to the benefits of these changes so they seek out simplistic solutions which, rather than really address their problems, placate them through nationalism, populism and extremism,” he said. “We can either sit around or wait passively for the next conflagration, economic depression or war or we can seek to build new models for a tolerant society, benefiting all in full security.”

The Kantor Prize for Secure Tolerance will encourage original, creative thinking and research on how the theory and practice of tolerance can meet the new challenges of a globalized world and its diverse societies.

The conference in Monaco brought together political, academic and non-profit leaders from 22 countries to address the threat of radicalization and issues surrounding the challenges to tolerance in European societies. The three key issues discussed were political radicalization, online hate speech and integrating immigrant communities.

Kantor, one of the richest persons in Russia, heads the Acron Group, a producer and distributor of mineral fertilizer.