For Immediate Release: February 27, 2013
Washington, DC – Amidst a recent rise of antisemitic violence in Europe, North America, and the former Soviet Union, Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino will testify today before Congress to detail practical steps the U.S. government can take to effectively combat the problem of global antisemitism.
Antisemitic violence in Europe and North Africa remains at concerning levels following a significant increase beginning in 2000. Massimino’s testimony notes that the United States has long been a leader in international efforts to confront antisemitism, but there are still many ways U.S. government strengthen its role in combating antisemitism and related intolerance globally.
“Antisemitism is a human rights issue,” said Massimino in her testimony. “The failure of governments to confront it – to punish those who commit violence targeting Jews and Jewish communities and to condemn and counteract virulent antisemitic hate speech – creates an environment that endangers not only Jews but the rights and security of adherents of other religious faiths, members of other minority groups.”
Among the key recommendations Massimino makes in her testimony include the following:
- Elevate the importance of religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy by developing a national security strategy that promotes international religious freedom, combats antisemitic and related violence and confronts hate speech while protecting freedom of expression.
- Establish an interagency mechanism to deploy strategically the resources and programs from across the different U.S. government agencies to combat hate crime globally by facilitating information sharing between related agencies, including training courses on combating all forms of hate crime in its International Law Enforcement Academies, and expanding international efforts to train foreign law enforcement in hate crime.
- Make combating antisemitism an important component of Bilateral Engagement through interagency efforts by raising incidents of hate crime violence with representatives of foreign governments, sharing concrete recommendations, maintaining Department of State monitoring and public reporting of hate-motivated violence, offering appropriate technical assistance and other forms of cooperation to representatives of law enforcement, victims’ communities and legal advocates, and by supporting civil society.
- Maintain the international leadership of the United States in multilateral forums, particularly the OSCE by providing political and financial backing, supporting a 2013 meeting on enhancing the security of Jewish organizations, and pressing OSCE member states to comply with commitments on tolerance and nondiscrimination.
“A healthy civil society simply cannot flourish in the face of unchecked hatred,” said Massimino. “Indeed, we see time and again that hate does not exist in neat compartments, but creates an enabling environment where violence can occur.”