European Governments Urged to Stay Focused on Combating Anti-Semitism and Hate
New York, NY, June 8, 2007 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged governments of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) "to maintain a distinct focus on combating anti-Semitism" at a conference on new challenges in the fight against discrimination and intolerance.
ADL presented recommendations to the Conference on Combating Discrimination and Promoting Mutual Respect and Understanding, which opened yesterday in Bucharest, Romania. Stacy Burdett, ADL Associate Director of Government and National Affairs, is a Public Advisor to the U.S. delegation led by Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA).
ADL addressed delegates and called on Participating States to:
- Maintain a distinct focus on combating anti-Semitism. The problem of anti-Semitism and intolerance is not a fleeting one and the work to address it must be sustained. A recent ADL attitude survey in five OSCE states showed a plurality of respondents espousing the same classical anti-Semitic canards and conspiracy theories that have made Jews vulnerable through the centuries.
- Maintain the Personal Representative on Anti-Semitism as well as Personal Representatives on Racism and Xenophobia, and on Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims.
- Fulfill their pledge to collect hate crime data. Data collection is a powerful tool to confront anti-Semitism and bigotry because it highlights the issue of hate violence for policymakers and the public -- and prompts government outreach and police training to identify, report, and respond to hate violence.
- Create the expectation of leadership from political Leaders. Communities too often grow accustomed to a level of harassment and violence they have come to view as "acceptable." Government officials and civic leaders should seek out opportunities to speak out against anti-Semitism and hate and make clear that hate crime victims and targeted communities have the support of the state's highest officials. Government and civic leaders set the tone for national discourse and plan an essential role in shaping attitudes.
- Support the specialized work of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) Tolerance and non-Discrimination Unit and utilize and promote its education programs and other tools to combat anti-Semitism and hate crime.
- Support Civil Society hate crime response initiatives. In too many states, government and law enforcement efforts to address hate crime are inadequate and communities lack proper frameworks for communication with relevant officials. Those states should work nationally and support ODIHR's region-wide efforts to build the capacity of non-governmental organizations and community organizations to monitor and respond to hate violence and to provide victim assistance where other sources of support may be lacking.
- Parliaments should serve as catalysts for action against anti-Semitism. It was the Parliamentary Assembly that first adopted important language on anti-Semitism that was included in the 2004 Berlin Declaration. The UK's All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism provides an excellent model of parliamentarians documenting and challenging anti-Semitic attitudes and encouraging government action at the highest level. Parliamentarians across the OSCE region should embrace and seek to replicate this model. In addition, the hearings, reports, and advocacy by the United States Helsinki Commission -- a parliamentary group which works full time to encourage states to comply with OSCE commitments – were instrumental in building momentum toward an OSCE focus on anti-Semitism and intolerance.
- OSCE should craft model hate crime response policies for Participating States. ODIHR should craft model guidelines for a comprehensive national approach to combating hate crime that could be used to strengthen efforts across states with differing legal contexts. Hate crime response policy guidelines could help develop and implement new laws, and strengthen existing laws, but could also be valuable in improving the response to hate violence in countries where no hate crime laws exist.
Since 2003, the Member States of the OSCE have undertaken detailed commitments to combat anti-Semitism, to collect data on hate crime and to promote education on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. The OSCE comprises 56 nations, including the U.S., Canada and the countries of Europe and Eurasia. More information on the League's involvement with the OSCE is available at www.adl.org/osce.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.