On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, U.S. Should Continue to Prioritize Antisemitism

Washington, D.C.—To commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Human Rights First urges the U.S. government to continue working with its allies to make antisemitism and extremism a priority in its foreign policy. Holocaust Remembrance Day comes as many U.S. allies, particularly in Europe, face a resurgence of antisemitism as the rise of the far right and Islamic extremism are converging in a vicious cycle to fuel intolerance and violence.

“The recent decision to forego the construction of a statue honoring the notorious antisemite, Balint Homan, in Hungary is a perfect example of the importance of concurrent action to confront antisemitism by the U.S. government, a number of our allies, and NGOs including Human Rights First,” said Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ira Forman.

In a recent major report, Human Rights First examined antisemitism and extremism in France and how U.S. government leaders can work with their French counterparts to prevent future attacks, promote greater tolerance and inclusiveness, and chart a path forward that upholds our shared commitment to human rights as an integral part of national security. The report came weeks after November’s tragic terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 individuals and wounded hundreds more. The problems in France are all the more pressing due to the upcoming French presidential election in 2017, the rise of far-right parties, and the effects of the global refugee crisis in France.

“As the rise in antisemitic and other hate crimes in Europe has shown, the United States must continue to take a leading role in combating the root causes of antisemitic violence, and assist its allies in countering this scourge in a way that is tolerant and inclusive,” said Human Rights First’s Susan Corke. “This is not just a Jewish issue, it is a serious human rights issue; we know that antisemitism is a harbinger of broader societal dysfunction that we cannot afford to ignore.”

For more than a decade Human Rights First has focused on antisemitism and extremism in Europe. In that time a complex mix of factors has contributed to its disturbing rise. In Greece, neo-Nazi and antisemitic Golden Dawn has become the country’s third strongest political party. Though the ruling party has cracked down on Golden Dawn, it comes after years of complacency in which Golden Dawn received support from some in the Greek police. In Hungary, the antisemitic and xenophobic Jobbik party won 20 percent of the vote in recent elections. As part of a broad slide toward authoritarianism, Prime Minister Victor Orban has trafficked in ethnic nationalism and World War II revisionism. Late last year, amid international pressure from the U.S. State Department and civil society groups, including Human Rights First, the Hungarian government abandoned its plans to build a statue honoring a notorious World War II-era antisemite.

Press

Published on January 27, 2016

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