For Immediate Release: November 9, 2011
Washington, DC – Today, Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino marked International Day Against Fascism and Antisemitism and the 73rd anniversary of Kristallnacht during a State Department Conversation with America event. Today’s discussion addressed recent trends in anti-Semitism around the world and featured both Massimino and Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Hannah Rosenthal.
“Antisemitism is a serious global problem,” Massimino said. “Antisemitic violence in Europe, the former Soviet Union, and North America remains at high levels. With alarming frequency, people have been harassed, beaten, stabbed, or shot because they were Jewish, and synagogues, Jewish homes, and Jewish-owned businesses have been targeted in arson attacks and subjected to widespread vandalism. Governments have an obligation under national legislation and international human rights law to respond to these hate crimes and take steps to deter anti-Jewish hatred. It’s time they live up to that commitment.”
For more than a decade, Human Right First has monitored antisemitic violence and pressed for stronger government action to combat it. The group has authored a 10 Point Plan for Combating Hate Crime, recommendations that include public condemnation of incidents, adoption and implementation of comprehensive hate crime laws, establishment of data collection systems, training of law enforcement, among other strategies. States across Europe and North America have agreed to take such steps as part of political commitments to Inter-Governmental Organizations like the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
Human Rights First notes that developing democracies arising from the Arab Spring revolutions must recognize the important of enshrining protection of minorities in their political systems.
The organization also notes that the U.S. Government has a key role to play in combating antisemitism. It says that this global role must be rooted in strong steps to combat antisemitism at home, where antisemitic and other hate crime remain a serious problem, but where there are also strong mechanisms in place to address it. Specifically, the group recommends that the United States:
- Demonstrate international leadership in intergovernmental organizations by continuing to support specific initiatives to combat antisemitism and racism. In an environment of impending budget cuts, we must highlight that the success of America’s diplomacy in many ways depends on our willingness and ability to show political leadership and financial support to multilateral initiatives.
- Advance efforts to combat antisemitism in bilateral relations by ensuring that the need to confront this problem is a part of regular discussions with other governments, and by offering technical assistance and other forms of cooperation, as appropriate.
- Contribute to the strength of civil society actors on the ground—a key factor in promoting a vigorous government response—by ensuring that human rights defenders advancing this cause in their countries have access to the funds and training resources they need to succeed.
For more information about Human Rights First’s efforts to combat antisemitic hate crime or to speak with Massimino, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at email@example.com or 202-370-3323.