President Trump Should Take Concrete Steps to Combat Antisemitic Hate Crime

Washington, D.C.Human Rights First today urged President Trump to make stronger public statements condemning acts of antisemitism, and to take concrete steps to strengthen responses to hate crime in the United States. The call came as President Trump floundered for days before addressing several concerning antisemitic incidents since the 2016 election, including bomb threats to Jewish centers and the desecration of a Jewish cemetery this weekend.

Human Rights First notes that these events mirror a rise in hate crime in Europe, where extremists and members of the far right use fear-mongering to gain political prominence.

“In Germany the failure of political elites to clearly denounce the fear-mongering narratives of the far right that paint refugees as criminals contributed to the drastic rise in hate crime against asylum shelters,” said Human Rights First’s Susan Corke. “If leaders in the United States continue to halfheartedly condemn hate crime, we will continue to see these horrific instances of antisemitism and intolerance.”

Statements made this weekend by President Trump condemning antisemitism as “terrible” were necessary and overdue. These declarations, while welcome, are a departure from those made by the president during his campaign and post-inauguration, that animated those with antisemitic and other racist views into reprehensible acts of hatred.

In order for the Trump Administration to now signal to Jewish communities around the world that the U.S. government will not tolerate antisemitism and other acts of hatred, it must take concrete steps to strengthen response to hate crime, including by improving data collection and providing additional resources to protect communities.

Human Rights First recently released a report on Germany’s response to antisemitic, anti-Muslim and other hate crimes. While Germany’s history makes it unique, its struggle against xenophobia-fueled illiberalism is increasingly representative of trends buffeting Europe and the United States. Across the Atlantic—in societies roiled by social change, globalization, and terrorism—demagogic leaders and far-right movements are magnifying and leveraging hatred toward ethnic, racial, and religious minorities. The report contains recommendations for Germany and the United States to promote greater transatlantic cooperation to ensure that tolerance and human rights remain the foundation of their democracies.

Antisemitism, like anti-Muslim bigotry and other forms of intolerance, denies another human being his or her dignity and equality. A national leader failing to clearly denounce harmful speech can serve to embolden extremist voices and serve as a legitimation of violence. President Trump should make clear immediately that he condemns all forms of antisemitism and intolerance, and that he will do everything in his power to support investigations and prosecutions of hate crimes.


Published on February 21, 2017


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