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February 13, 2015 1

A Tragic Murder, Hate Crimes, and the Need to Fight Stereotypes

The tragic mur­der of three Mus­lim stu­dents in Chapel Hill, North Car­olina this week has stirred deep emo­tions.  While all of us should refrain from rush­ing to judg­ment about why they were attacked, we can cer­tainly under­stand the pow­er­ful impact this hor­rific crime has had, not only on the Mus­lim com­mu­nity, but on Amer­i­cans of good will.

Until the inves­ti­ga­tion is com­pleted, the evi­dence ana­lyzed, and the case pre­sented, it is impos­si­ble to know whether or not this case meets the legal def­i­n­i­tion of a hate crime.  Such crimes require the pros­e­cu­tion to prove that the per­pe­tra­tor tar­geted his vic­tims because of their race, reli­gion, eth­nic­ity, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, or other immutable char­ac­ter­is­tics.  A crime is not auto­mat­i­cally a hate crime just because the vic­tims are Mus­lims, or Jews, or blacks, or mem­bers of the LGBT com­mu­nity – or because the per­pe­tra­tor and the vic­tims are of dif­fer­ent races or reli­gious tra­di­tions.   The spe­cific tar­get­ing because of their sta­tus is required.  And there is a rea­son for this – hate crimes are dif­fer­ent pre­cisely because they are not the result of greed, or road rage, park­ing lot argu­ments, or busi­ness dis­putes.  Rather, anal­o­gous to anti-discrimination laws, they are crimes which sin­gle peo­ple out sim­ply because of who they are.

 


Un Trágico Asesinato, Crímenes de Odio y la Necesi­dad de Luchar Con­tra los Estereotipos

El trágico asesinato de tres estu­di­antes musul­manes en Chapel Hill, Car­olina del Norte, esta sem­ana ha provo­cado pro­fun­das emo­ciones. Aunque todos debe­mos absten­er­nos de saltar a con­clu­siones sobre el por qué fueron ata­ca­dos, cier­ta­mente podemos enten­der el tremendo impacto que ha tenido este hor­rendo crimen, no sólo en la comu­nidad musul­mana sino tam­bién en los esta­dounidenses de buena voluntad.

Hasta que se ter­mine la inves­ti­gación, se anal­i­cen las prue­bas y se pre­sente el caso, es imposi­ble saber si este caso se ciñe a la defini­ción legal de un crimen de odio. Dichos crímenes requieren que la Fis­calía pruebe que el agre­sor atacó a sus víc­ti­mas a causa de su raza, religión, ori­gen étnico, ori­entación sex­ual u otras car­ac­terís­ti­cas inmuta­bles. Un crimen no es automáti­ca­mente un crimen de odio sola­mente porque las víc­ti­mas sean musul­manes o judíos, negros o miem­bros de la comu­nidad LGBT –o porque el agre­sor y las víc­ti­mas sean de difer­entes razas o tradi­ciones reli­giosas. Se requiere que la víc­tima sea escogida especí­fi­ca­mente por su esta­tus. Y hay una razón para esto –los crímenes de odio son difer­entes pre­cisa­mente porque no son el resul­tado de la avari­cia, ira en la car­retera, argu­men­tos en el esta­cionamiento o con­flic­tos de nego­cios. Por el con­trario, anál­ogo a las leyes con­tra la dis­crim­i­nación, son crímenes que esco­gen a sus víc­ti­mas sim­ple­mente por ser quienes son.

Por supuesto, inde­pen­di­en­te­mente de si estos asesinatos resul­tan ser un crimen de odio, las pre­ocu­pa­ciones expre­sadas en reac­ción a ellos por muchos de la comu­nidad musul­mana son com­pren­si­bles. Los asesinatos refuerzan un sen­tido de vul­ner­a­bil­i­dad y los esta­dounidenses de todas las creen­cias reli­giosas deben ser con­scientes de ello, y ofre­cer apoyo y con­suelo a nue­stros veci­nos musulmanes.

Sabe­mos que la inmensa may­oría de los musul­manes en los Esta­dos Unidos está con­ster­nada por ese pequeño por­centaje de extrem­is­tas musul­manes respon­s­ables por los actos de ter­ror que los Esta­dos Unidos vivió el 11 de sep­tiem­bre de 2001 y que con­tinúan plante­ando una grave ame­naza para la seguri­dad y esta­bil­i­dad en muchas partes del mundo. Tam­bién sabe­mos que demasi­a­dos esta­dounidenses alber­gan estereoti­pos y están dis­puestos a usar de chivo expi­a­to­rio a los musul­manes. En este con­texto, es com­pren­si­ble que los musul­manes esta­dounidenses estén ansiosos sobre el lugar que ocu­pan en la sociedad esta­dounidense y su seguri­dad física, par­tic­u­lar­mente a raíz de una trage­dia como la de esta semana.

Los musul­manes esta­dounidenses tienen dere­cho a dis­fru­tar de la seguri­dad y lib­er­tad que son el ideal amer­i­cano. En el pasado, judíos, católi­cos y mor­mones (entre otros) tam­bién fueron vis­tos con descon­fi­anza. Por tanto, todos debe­mos con­tribuir a arro­jar luz por el dis­tor­sion­ado lente del miedo y la igno­ran­cia, para ofre­cer apoyo y amis­tad, y con­fiar en nue­stros organ­is­mos poli­ciales para que garan­ti­cen que se cumplen los intere­ses de la justicia.

Of course, regard­less of whether or not these mur­ders are ulti­mately shown to be a hate crime, the con­cerns expressed by many in the Mus­lim com­mu­nity in reac­tion to them are under­stand­able.  The killings rein­force a sense of vul­ner­a­bil­ity, and Amer­i­cans of all reli­gious faiths need to be aware of that and to offer sup­port and reas­sur­ance to our Mus­lim neighbors.

We know that the vast major­ity of Mus­lims in Amer­ica are appalled by that small per­cent­age of Mus­lim extrem­ists respon­si­ble for the acts of ter­ror to which Amer­ica woke up on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 and which con­tinue to pose a seri­ous threat to both secu­rity and sta­bil­ity in many parts of the world.  We also know that too many Amer­i­cans engage in stereo­typ­ing, and are will­ing to scape­goat Mus­lims.    In this envi­ron­ment, it is under­stand­able that Amer­i­can Mus­lims are anx­ious about their place in Amer­i­can soci­ety and indeed about their phys­i­cal safety, par­tic­u­larly in the after­math of a tragedy like this week’s.

Amer­i­can Mus­lims are enti­tled to enjoy the secu­rity and free­dom that is the Amer­i­can ideal.  In the past, Jews, Catholics, and Mor­mons (among oth­ers) were viewed with sim­i­lar dis­trust.  We must there­fore all do our part to shine a light through the dis­tort­ing lens of fear and igno­rance, to offer friend­ship and sup­port, and to trust our law enforce­ment agen­cies to ensure that the inter­ests of jus­tice are served.

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February 13, 2015 0

A French Leader Speaks for His Nation’s Jews and His Nation

By Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

The hor­rific ter­ror­ism that took place in Paris at the offices of Char­lie Hebdo and at the Hyper Cacher mar­ket last month still res­onates with all of us.

When we real­ize that Ahmed Coulibaly delib­er­ately chose to attack a small and vul­ner­a­ble unguarded kosher mar­ket on a Fri­day after­noon just before the Sab­bath as his tar­get to take Jew­ish hostages, we are eerily drawn to con­tem­plate ques­tions such as: Do Jews Have a Future in France? Is it hap­pen­ing all over again in Europe? What is the rela­tion­ship between the old and the new anti-Semitism? How can this evil best be com­bat­ted, in all its forms, and hope and lib­erty restored?

As the events at the kosher mar­ket unfolded, I couldn’t help but remind myself of Pas­tor Mar­tin Niemoller’s now famous com­ments as Nazi Germany’s ter­ror spread: “First, they came for the social­ists, and I did not speak out because I was not a social­ist. Then they came for the trade union­ists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade union­ist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

The real­ity is that, since 1980, 17 French Jews have been mur­dered by vio­lent ter­ror­ists and the wave of attacks on Jews in France has inten­si­fied dur­ing the past ten years. Each and every one is an abom­i­na­tion, and we have always said that they are not only a threat to Jew­ish life in France, but to France itself.

This con­nec­tion between anti-Semitism and threats to demo­c­ra­tic life has a long and tragic his­tory. Unfor­tu­nately, it all too often takes ter­ri­ble events such as what recently occurred in Paris to wake peo­ple up to that real­ity. One can’t help but won­der, then, just how much the world has really learned from Niemoller’s reflection.

For­tu­nately, the Prime Min­is­ter of France, Manuel Valls, gets it more than most. In a recent inter­view with The Atlantic, Valls stated that “if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Repub­lic will be judged a failure.”

In a dra­matic speech before the National Assem­bly, he went on to rein­force that truth:

“With­out its Jews France would not be France, this is the mes­sage we have to com­mu­ni­cate loud and clear. We haven’t done so. We haven’t shown enough out­rage. How can we accept that in cer­tain schools and col­leges the Holo­caust can’t be taught? How can we accept that when a child is asked ‘Who is your enemy,’ the response is ‘the Jew?’ When the Jews of France are attacked France is attacked, the con­science of human­ity is attacked. Let us never for­get it.”

Why the reluc­tance of many demo­c­ra­tic soci­eties, in Europe and beyond, to rec­og­nize that anti-Semitism is the canary in the coal mine, alert­ing them to the exis­ten­tial threat they face? Why does Prime Min­is­ter Valls seem more like an excep­tion than like the rule, espe­cially when he bluntly and truth­fully sources the present threat as com­ing mainly from “ter­ror­ism and rad­i­cal Islam,” as he told the French peo­ple just days after the attacks?

Partly, this hes­i­ta­tion comes out of a desire to live with illu­sions, to con­vince our­selves that things are not so bad. “Attacks on Jews are one thing, but that doesn’t mean that we all are at risk.” And, partly, it’s a rem­nant of the deeply embed­ded stereo­types about Jews that held sway for cen­turies: the Jews are the ‘other’ and the Jews “bring their vic­tim­hood upon themselves.”

This is a time for all of us to stand firmly with the Jew­ish com­mu­nity of France; rather than telling them what they should do, urg­ing them to leave or stay, we should reas­sure them that there is Jew­ish sol­i­dar­ity, that Israel and the Amer­i­can Jew­ish com­mu­nity will do all we can to assure their safety and security.

The sim­ple, yet pro­found, act of thank­ing Prime Min­is­ter Valls for speak­ing up, for not wait­ing until they come for the non-Jews of France before tak­ing an unequiv­o­cal stand for decency and democ­racy, plays no small part in that effort.

We hope our thanks, and yours, will rein­force the resolve of France’s lead­ers and its peo­ple to take the steps nec­es­sary to ensure a safe, secure and vibrant Jew­ish life for the Jews of France.

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February 12, 2015 3

The Right to Be Forgotten Has No Place in the U.S.

right-to-be-forgottenThe right to be forgotten—the right of Inter­net users to request that search engines remove links to out­dated or embar­rass­ing infor­ma­tion about them­selves from search results—is once more in the head­lines in Europe. Recently, fol­low­ing up on a pre­vi­ous Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice rul­ing that indi­vid­u­als have the right to ask search engines to remove links to “inad­e­quate, irrel­e­vant, or no longer rel­e­vant” infor­ma­tion about them­selves online, Euro­pean reg­u­la­tors and judges have called for Google and other search engines to apply the Right to Be For­got­ten around the world, regard­less of which coun­try the search engine serves and where the search takes place. How­ever, the Advi­sory Coun­cil that Google appointed to look into the issue has rec­om­mended that Google limit its response to European-directed search ser­vices, such as google.fr (used in France) and google.de (used in Ger­many) and not extend it out­side the Euro­pean Union. That Coun­cil, in a new report, found that there is “a com­pet­ing inter­est on the part of users out­side of Europe to access infor­ma­tion via a name-based search in accor­dance with the laws of their coun­try, which may be in con­flict with the delist­ings afforded by the rul­ing.”  ADL agrees with their recommendation.

Last Novem­ber the Anti-Defamation League adopted a pol­icy posi­tion that “indi­vid­u­als should not have the right to have links to old and/or embar­rass­ing infor­ma­tion about them­selves removed from Inter­net search results.” Doing so is tan­ta­mount to tak­ing a scalpel to library books, allow­ing peo­ple to tear from pub­lic record things about them­selves from the past that they sim­ply do not like. The Right to Be For­got­ten could allow, for exam­ple, a white suprema­cist to erase all traces of his his­tory of big­oted rhetoric before run­ning for pub­lic office, deny­ing the pub­lic access to make a fully informed decision.

The Inter­net has pro­vided the largest and most robust mar­ket­place of ideas in his­tory, open­ing lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion around the world. As the Inter­net brings the world closer, how­ever, coun­tries must be cog­nizant of the impact that their laws and reg­u­la­tions have in other parts of the world. In the United States the First Amend­ment pro­vides much stronger pro­tec­tions for free speech than the laws do in Europe. Amer­i­cans, and search engines based in the United States, should con­tinue to respect the laws and found­ing prin­ci­ples of our coun­try, deny­ing the right to be for­got­ten here.


El Dere­cho a Ser Olvi­dado No Tiene Lugar en Esta­dos Unidos

El dere­cho a ser olvi­dado —el dere­cho de los usuar­ios de Inter­net a solic­i­tar que los motores de búsqueda elim­i­nen de los resul­ta­dos de búsqueda los vín­cu­los a infor­ma­ción desac­tu­al­izada o ver­gonzosa sobre sí mis­mos— está una vez más en los tit­u­lares europeos. Recien­te­mente, a con­se­cuen­cia de un fallo ante­rior de un tri­bunal de jus­ti­cia europeo según el cual los indi­vid­uos tienen el dere­cho de pedir que los motores de búsqueda elim­i­nen los enlaces a infor­ma­ción en línea “inade­cuada, irrel­e­vante o no per­ti­nente” sobre sí mis­mos, los jue­ces y reg­u­ladores europeos han pedido a Google y otros motores de búsqueda aplicar el dere­cho a ser olvi­dado alrede­dor del mundo, inde­pen­di­en­te­mente del país del bus­cador y de donde se real­iza la búsqueda. Sin embargo, el Con­sejo Asesor que designó Google para inves­ti­gar el tema, ha recomen­dado que Google lim­ite su respuesta a los ser­vi­cios de búsqueda enfo­ca­dos a Europa especí­fi­ca­mente, como google.fr (uti­lizado en Fran­cia) y google.de (usado en Ale­ma­nia), y que no la aplique fuera de la Unión Euro­pea. El mismo Con­sejo, en un nuevo informe, encon­tró que hay “un interés con­flic­tivo de parte de los usuar­ios fuera de Europa por acceder a la infor­ma­ción medi­ante una búsqueda basada en el nom­bre de con­formi­dad con las leyes de su país, que pueden estar en con­flicto con la opción de elim­i­nación ofre­cida por la sen­ten­cia”. La ADL está de acuerdo con su recomendación.

En noviem­bre pasado la Liga Antid­ifamación adoptó una posi­ción política según la cual “las per­sonas no deberían tener el dere­cho a que los enlaces a infor­ma­ción vieja o ver­gonzosa sobre sí mis­mos sean elim­i­na­dos de los resul­ta­dos de búsqueda en Inter­net”. Hac­erlo equiv­al­dría a aplicar un bis­turí a libros de la bib­lioteca, per­mi­tiendo a la gente arran­car de los archivos públi­cos cosas sobre sí mis­mos que sim­ple­mente no les gus­tan. El Dere­cho a Ser Olvi­dado podría per­mi­tir, por ejem­plo, que un supremacista blanco bor­rara todos los ras­tros de su his­to­ria de retórica intol­er­ante antes de pos­tu­larse para car­gos públi­cos, negando al público la posi­bil­i­dad de tomar una decisión com­ple­ta­mente informada.

Inter­net ha pro­por­cionado el mer­cado más grande y robusto de ideas en la his­to­ria, abriendo líneas de comu­ni­cación alrede­dor del mundo. Sin embargo, a medida que Inter­net acerca al mundo, los países deben ser con­scientes del impacto que sus leyes y reg­u­la­ciones tienen en otras partes del mundo. En Esta­dos Unidos, la Primera Enmienda pro­por­ciona garan­tías a la lib­er­tad de expre­sión mucho más fuertes que las leyes en Europa. Los esta­dounidenses y los motores de búsqueda con sede en Esta­dos Unidos deben seguir respetando las leyes y prin­ci­p­ios fun­da­cionales de nue­stro país, negando el dere­cho a ser olvidados.

 

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