Tony Blair has a new job

Tony Blair is set to become chairman of an organisation that combats anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia in Europe.

The former prime minister is stepping down from his post as Middle East peace envoy for the Quartet of Nations at the end of this month, and will join the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), which describes itself as a "non-partisan" organisation designed to promote "tolerance, reconciliation and education". He will replace Aleksander Kwaśniewski, the former president of Poland.

Writing a joint article in the Times (£) with Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress and the ECTR, Blair cites statistics from the Kantor Centre at Tel Aviv University showing a rise in anti-Semitic attacks last year.

“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. Anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem, but one infecting the whole of society and needs to be tackled for the sake of us all," they write. "We live in dangerous times. There have been three periods in the past hundred years when the annual GDP growth in Europe went below 1 per cent: first in 1913, just before the First World War, second in 1938, just before the Second World War, and third in 2014. Economic decline fuels instability."

In his role, Blair said he could campaign for European states to implement proposals in the ECTR's report Framework National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance, which recommended judges should have greater powers to prosecute hate speech and to make Holocaust denial illegal.

During his time as Middle East envoy, where he was working to end the Israel-Palestine conflict, Blair was perceived by Palestinians as being too sympathetic to the Israeli cause. As the Times points out, Blair's decision to work at the ECTR could fuel suspicions that he was biased towards the Israeli side during his work as Quartet envoy.

Blair will not officially be paid for the role but the Times reports his foundation will receive an annual donation from the ECTR. His office has not disclosed the amount.

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