Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First urges Secretary of State John Kerry to press European countries to adopt a Ministerial Council decision that sets out out an action plan to combat antisemitism. The call came in a joint letter from Human Rights First, the Anti-Defamation League and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights one week before the Ministerial Council of the Organization for Society and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is set to meet in Basel, Switzerland. The three groups participated earlier this month in a high-level OSCE conference on combating antisemitism held in Berlin, where both the Swiss government (as OSCE Chair) and civil society groups from across the region put forth concrete steps to confront an alarming rise in anti-Semitic violence and hatred in 2014.
“Our organizations have worked to deepen the engagement of American civil society groups at the OSCE to press states to take action against anti-Semitism, hate crime, and all forms of discrimination,” wrote the groups in a letter. “We urge you to mobilize U.S. allies and partners in support of action by the Ministerial Council next week to endorse the concluding statement of the Swiss Chair in Office as well as the recommendations from the [Berlin Anti-Semitism] conference’s Civil Society Forum. This action would provide a path and a sound basis for following up on those conclusions and recommendations as part of the OSCE’s work in 2015.”
At the conference, the Swiss Chair in Office and Civil Society Forum recommended that governments should encourage government leaders to speak out strongly against anti-Semitic incidents, ensure that their countries’ legal systems are able to create an environment where antisemitic violence and discrimination is not tolerated, investigate and prosecute those who commit anti-Semitic violence, and properly collect and monitor hate crime statistics.
Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino delivered a keynote address before the OSCE during the Human Dimension Implementation meeting in September where she called on the United States and governments around the world to address threats to peace and security while upholding human rights. Massimino also spoke about the rise of extremist parties in Europe, many of which are violently anti-Semitic. Human Rights First experts recently visited Hungary and Greece, where they researched the rise and political success of violent ultranationalist antisemitic parties including Jobbik in Hungary and Golden Dawn in Greece. This informed recommendations in Human Rights First’s report “We’re Not Nazis, but… The Rise of Hate Parties in Hungary and Greece and Why America Should Care.”