New York, NY, December 2, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged members of Congress to help countries in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) combat persistent anti-Semitism, saying that governments bear the primary responsibility for offering protection from hatred and bigotry.
"The lack of political will by governments to take seriously their obligations is the primary obstacle to progress in the fight against anti-Semitism," said Stacy Burdett, ADL Director of Government and National Affairs, in testimony on Capitol Hill to the Congressional Helsinki Commission.
"Governments must do everything they can to fully protect Jewish citizens from the oldest and most persistent form of prejudice -- anti-Semitism," said Ms. Burdett. "We continue to see anti-Zionism and anti-Israel animus used as a thin disguise for anti-Semitism. When Israel has taken action to defend its citizens from attacks in Gaza or Lebanon, we have witnessed a surge in attacks upon Jews around the world."
The OSCE first began to address resurgent anti-Semitism in 2003, when it committed to monitoring and addressing hate crimes. However, in a 2011 analysis, only 20 out of 56 governments in the OSCE reported anti-Semitic incidents, despite the fact that anti-Semitic and other bias crimes are on the rise.
Noting in its testimony that the OSCE is a "model of how, in just a few years, a major international organization can move from broad denial of a problem to taking action needed to combat anti-Semitism and hate crimes on a comprehensive basis", ADL offered recommendations for how participating governments can move forward in institutionalizing a systematic, comprehensive strategy:
· Use the bully pulpit to speak out. Political leaders should publicly reject and marginalize anti-Semitism, and show zero tolerance for anti-Semitism in international forums.
· Lead by example and set a tone of civility. Politicians must never engage in divisive appeals that demonize any member of society based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity as words have the power to shape the environment that targeted people live.
· Educate about anti-Semitism so that students are empowered to reject and combat it. The fight against anti-Semitism and intolerance at home must be strengthened through effective hate crimes prevention and anti-bias programs and activities. Effective Holocaust remembrance and education must also address contemporary anti-Semitism.
· Enact and support inclusive hate crimes laws. Countries must improve response to hate crimes, and must provide training and assistance to improve the policing and prosecution of anti-Semitism.
· Prioritize combating anti-Semitism as part of bilateral relations with other countries. Reporting on and combating anti-Semitism should be part of a full array of human rights and democracy programming, funding and public diplomacy efforts.