President Obama Urged to Raise Extremism, Antisemitism as G7 Nations Meet to Address Security Concerns

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today urged President Obama to work with his Group of Seven counterparts to confront antisemitism and extremism in a way that strengthens the Trans-Atlantic Alliance. President Obama will attend the upcoming G7 Summit in Germany from June 7-8, where nations will focus on threats to the Alliance, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

In noting that anti-Semitic violence in Europe has reached alarming levels and that far-right political parties across the continent are using anti-Semitic, xenophobic and racists ideology to strengthen their base, Human Rights First President & CEO Elisa Massimino wrote in a letter to President Obama, “This ‘classic’ antisemitism is now converging with a newer, virulent incarnation that has taken root among some disenfranchised citizens and immigrants of Muslim heritage. Hatred among a small minority of this population has led to violence—and to recruiting opportunities for extremist groups.”

She added, “These two forms of antisemitism do not exist in isolation. Neo-fascist parties are gaining influence on the strength of their xenophobic message. They demonize Muslims, creating divisions that Islamic extremists exploit. And Islamic extremists demonize Jews. This pernicious, self-reinforcing cycle endangers the human rights not only of Jews but of other minorities as well.”

Massimino’s letter detailed five challenges President Obama should urge European leaders to confront as they work to address emerging threats posed by antisemitism and extremism, including:

  • increasing need for security of Jews and Jewish sites;
  • nationalistic and racist political forces;
  • the lack of integration, as well as extremism and radicalization, impacting Muslim immigrant communities;
  • the breakdown of governance and creeping authoritarianism following the Russian model; and
  • a lackluster government response to hate violence.

“I hope you will also use your platform to encourage civil and political forces in Europe—beyond Jewish communities—to forge coalitions to confront these interrelated problems. No community should stand alone in the face of racism and hatred,” Massimino concluded.

Today’s letter reflects issues previously addressed in Human Rights First’s Human Rights First’s report, “We’re not Nazis, but…The Rise of Hate Parties in Hungary and Greece and Why America Should Care,” which details how anti-Semitic 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 Jews and Jewish institutions have been the targets of violent attacks. 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.


Published on June 3, 2015


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