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Home / Press Release / European Leaders Should Speak Out Against Reactionary Antisemitic Violence
July 25, 2014

European Leaders Should Speak Out Against Reactionary Antisemitic Violence

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First condemns violence that broke out in France this week, in which the Jewish community was terrorized by attacks from those protesting the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. While most protesters peacefully demand an end to the violence in the Middle East, there has been a disturbing trend of verbal and physical attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions. The organization urges European leaders to protect the right of peaceful assembly, but forcefully condemn and counteract such violence.

“International conflicts, though worthy of debate and scrutiny, do not justify antisemitic or any other form of hate violence,” said Human Rights First’s Tad Stahnke.

Earlier this week top leaders from a trio of European governments rightly spoke out against the violence targeted at Jews. In a joint statement issued in Brussels on Tuesday, ministers from France, Germany, and Italy promised to oppose antisemitic protests. While expressing support for free speech and the right to free assembly, they said “anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews, attacks on people of Jewish belief and synagogues have no place in our societies.” Heads of state have also condemned antisemitism; French President Francois Hollande said fighting it “will become a national cause.”

“Human Rights First praises the clarity of these statements and urges other top European leaders make similar ones,” said Stahnke. “France and other European governments should protect the right of peaceful assembly, but also work with Jewish communities to provide protection to individuals and community property. Senior political leaders should speak out forcefully against hatred and violence, conduct thorough investigations, and hold the perpetrators accountable.”

This violence comes at a time when antisemitic propaganda is on the rise. Throughout Europe, far-right and neo-Nazi parties have gained electoral strength. This dangerous trend encourages hatred and creates an environment where violence is often tolerated. A forthcoming report from Human Rights First, ““We’re not Nazis, but…: The Rise of Hate Parties in Hungary and Greece and Why America Should Care,” examines factors contributing to the rise of antisemitic political parties and includes recommendations for the Obama Administration and the European Union.

For more information or to speak with Stahnke, contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.