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Home / Press Release / President Obama Urged to Underscore U.S. Leadership to Combat Growing Antisemitism in Europe During Solidarity Shabbat Address
May 21, 2015

President Obama Urged to Underscore U.S. Leadership to Combat Growing Antisemitism in Europe During Solidarity Shabbat Address

Washington, D.C.­ – Human Rights First today urged President Obama to address the disturbing growth of antsemitism in Europe during his remarks for Solidarity Shabbat at Congregation Adas Israel in Washington, D.C. on Friday. The organization notes that the rise of violence targeting Jews, as well as the growing strength of extremist, antisemitic political parties in Europe should be particularly concerning for the United States.

“Growing antisemitic rhetoric and violence in Europe and other parts of the world is a grave threat to human rights,” said Human Rights First’s Tad Stahnke, who testified in Congress this week on the situation in Hungary. "Left unchecked, antisemitism invariably leads to the persecution of other minorities, while human rights problems left to fester exacerbate antisemitism. We urge President Obama to make clear that the United States will be a leader in the worldwide effort to protect Jewish communities, combat antisemitic violence, and confront the stereotypes and extremism that create an atmosphere of hatred toward Jews."

Antisemitic incidents in Europe, including violence, property damage, abuse, and threats, are on the rise. Hate crime monitors in France and England have reported that from 2013 and 2014 the number of antisemitic incidents more than doubled in both countries. A 2013 European Union survey found that nearly 50 percent of Hungarian Jews had considered emigrating because they felt unsafe.

Human Rights First’s report, “We're not Nazis, but...The Rise of Hate Parties in Hungary and Greece and Why America Should Care,” details how antisemitic and racist political parties have grown in strength in Hungary and Greece and have had a wide ranging negative impact on protection of the rule of law and human rights in those countries. Human Rights First is also concerned with the situation in France, Belgium and other Western European countries, where a classic fascistic antisemitism exists alongside a deadly newer incarnation that has taken root among a segment of the marginalized and alienated citizens and immigrants of Muslim heritage. In January, Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino addressed a special session of the United Nations, urging an international effort to combat antisemitism.

Human Rights First continues to call on the U.S. government to lead a global effort to combatantisemitism by:

  • Pressing European governments to work with Jewish communities to assess their security needs and provide protection against violence. 
  • Working with European leaders  to create a political culture of condemnation and rejection of antisemitism and other forms of hatred that lead to violence and discrimination. 
  • Encouraging a worldwide zero tolerance policy for antisemitic and other bias motivated violence, calling for full investigation and prosecution of incidents of violence, collection and publishing of data, trainings for police and prosecutors, and forging productive relationships between law enforcement and affected communities. 
  • Supporting civil society leaders working to counter violent extremism wherever it exists.

For more information or to speak with Stahnke, contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme@humanrightsfirst.org or 212-845-5269.