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July 20, 2015 0

Rising Anti-Semitism in Europe: History Repeating Once Again

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

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

The anti-Semitism news from Europe in over the past year has been ter­ri­ble: Jews mur­dered in Paris and Copen­hagen, syn­a­gogues attacked by mobs and fire­bombed, and increas­ing Jew­ish emi­gra­tion attrib­uted to fear of more attacks.

A new poll on anti-Semitic atti­tudes, how­ever, may offer some rea­son for opti­mism amid an oth­er­wise bleak picture.

The Anti-Defamation League poll, a follow-up to our 2014 sur­vey of anti-Semitic atti­tudes in more than 100 coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries, found sig­nif­i­cant decreases in big­oted views toward Jews in France, Bel­gium, and Ger­many, where anti-Semitic vio­lence has been a promi­nent issue.

The sur­pris­ing results in these three coun­tries prompted us to look deeper into pos­si­ble rea­sons and to con­firm the results.  The ini­tial results were con­firmed and the new data we obtained sug­gest pos­si­ble explanations.

What did we find in all three coun­tries?  Respon­dents had height­ened aware­ness and con­cern about vio­lence against Jews and a stronger sense of sol­i­dar­ity with the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties.  Over half of French respon­dents had heard polit­i­cal lead­ers con­demn anti-Semitism, and majori­ties in all three coun­tries noted their gov­ern­ments had been more active in com­bat­ting anti-Semitism.

For decades, ADL has urged pub­lic fig­ures in Amer­ica and around the world to denounce anti-Semitism when inci­dents occur. In the U.S., lead­ers at all lev­els of gov­ern­ment make such state­ments and we have seen decreases in anti-Semitic atti­tudes here in our decades of domes­tic polling.

Over the past year, we have also seen strong and sus­tained denun­ci­a­tions of anti-Semitism in France by Prime Min­is­ter Manuel Manuel Valls and Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande, where the most pro­nounced drop in anti-Semitic atti­tudes was found among the Euro­pean coun­tries sur­veyed.  In Ger­many, Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel head­lined a rally against anti-Semitism in Sep­tem­ber.  Bel­gian Prime Min­is­ter Charles Michel, who took office in Octo­ber, has been out­spo­ken against anti-Semitism and hon­est about lax­ity of pre­vi­ous governments.

Such actions should be emu­lated by all Euro­pean leaders.

It is cer­tainly pos­si­ble that peo­ple were sim­ply less will­ing to express agree­ment with anti-Jewish state­ments, while still har­bor­ing such atti­tudes. Respon­dents reported sim­i­lar lev­els of anti-Semitism among peo­ple they know com­pared with 2014, a per­cep­tion which is often a proxy for peo­ple hold­ing anti-Semitic views them­selves.  Even if that is the case, greater ret­i­cence to express anti-Semitism would still be a pos­i­tive development.

The good news must be tem­pered by the sober­ing con­cern that we do not know how deep and last­ing these pos­i­tive shifts will be.  The trau­matic effects of the recent vio­lence in France, Bel­gium and Ger­many may fade and the reluc­tance to express anti-Semitic atti­tudes may recede.  Addi­tional polling over time will tell us.

Other poll results showed how much anti-bias work remains to be done.

For the first time, the ADL poll mea­sured Mus­lim atti­tudes in Bel­gium, France, Ger­many, Italy, Spain, and the U.K.  An aver­age of 55 per­cent of West­ern Euro­pean Mus­lims har­bored anti-Semitic atti­tudes. Accep­tance of anti-Semitic stereo­types by Mus­lims in these coun­tries was sub­stan­tially higher than among the national pop­u­la­tion in each coun­try (rang­ing from 12 to 29 per­cent), though lower than cor­re­spond­ing fig­ures of 75 per­cent for Mus­lims in the Mid­dle East and North Africa (MENA) in ADL’s 2014 poll.

The index is made up of 11 clas­si­cal stereo­types about Jews.  In con­sul­ta­tion with schol­ars, ADL set a stan­dard in which respon­dents had to agree with six or more of these stereo­types in order to be described as har­bor­ing anti-Semitic atti­tudes.  To be sure, any one ques­tion may be sub­ject to dif­fer­ent inter­pre­ta­tions.  How­ever, agree­ing with at least six of these state­ments makes clear one’s biased atti­tude toward Jews.

On most conspiracy-related state­ments, e.g. “Jews have too much con­trol over global affairs,” results for Euro­pean and MENA Mus­lims showed lit­tle dif­fer­ence.  How­ever, on neg­a­tive state­ments about Jew­ish char­ac­ter, e.g. “peo­ple hate Jews because of the way they behave” and “Jews think they are bet­ter than other peo­ple,” Euro­pean Mus­lims scored sub­stan­tially lower than MENA Muslims.

Reduc­ing vio­lent attacks on Jews and Jew­ish insti­tu­tions must clearly be the first pri­or­ity in the bat­tle against anti-Semitism, but chang­ing atti­tudes counts.  While we do not see a cor­re­la­tion between high num­bers of vio­lent inci­dents and high lev­els of anti-Semitic beliefs, Jews feel freer to live openly as Jews when they are con­fi­dent of being accepted in their soci­eties, not just in the absence of secu­rity concerns.

The fight against anti-Semitism must be waged in the pub­lic square and at schools, as well as by law enforce­ment.  Polit­i­cal lead­ers must set the tone and devote the polit­i­cal cap­i­tal to encour­ag­ing every sec­tor of soci­ety to engage together to com­bat the scourge of anti-Semitism.  Civil soci­ety and the busi­ness com­mu­nity, edu­ca­tors and jour­nal­ists, reli­gious lead­ers and stu­dents, par­ents and chil­dren, law enforce­ment offi­cers, pros­e­cu­tors and jurists must all join the battle.

Large majori­ties of respon­dents in Bel­gium (68 per­cent), France (77 per­cent), and Ger­many (78 per­cent) agreed that, “Vio­lence against Jews in this coun­try affects every­one and is an attack on our way of life.”  We should not set­tle for less than 100 per­cent, and that requires clear and con­sis­tent rein­force­ment that threats to Jews are assaults on the well-being and sense of secu­rity for the whole society.

Let us hope the improve­ments found in our poll grow in effect, expand across Europe, and even­tu­ally through the rest of the world.

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June 17, 2015 0

White House Hosts Conference on Combating International LGBT Hate Crimes


On June 12, the White House hosted a “Con­ver­sa­tion on Com­bat­ing Bias-Motivated Vio­lence against LGBT Per­sons Around the World.”  Bias-motivated vio­lence against LGBT indi­vid­u­als remains dis­turbingly preva­lent, as doc­u­mented by a May 2015 report by the United Nations High Com­mis­sioner for Human Rights and the FBI’s annual Hate Crime Sta­tis­tics Act report.  The prob­lem is com­pounded by incon­sis­tent def­i­n­i­tions of hate crime and inad­e­quate hate crime data col­lec­tion efforts, accord­ing to a 2013 ADL/Human Rights First report on hate crimes in the Orga­ni­za­tion for Secu­rity and Coop­er­a­tion in Europe (OSCE) region.

Randy Berry, the State Department’s Spe­cial Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons,announced a num­ber of new Admin­is­tra­tion ini­tia­tives at the con­fer­ence, which fell dur­ing LGBT Pride Month.  He high­lighted exist­ing part­ner­ships and pledged to expand inter­na­tional law enforce­ment train­ing and tech­ni­cal assis­tance, as well as efforts to empower civil soci­ety and LGBT edu­ca­tion and advo­cacy orga­ni­za­tions. The Admin­is­tra­tion will con­tinue to draw on exist­ing exper­tise across the US Gov­ern­ment to enable orga­ni­za­tions and agen­cies abroad to request assis­tance to launch new local and national initiatives.

The White House pro­gram included pan­els focused on the impact of community-based orga­ni­za­tions, the role of law enforce­ment and the judi­ciary, and gov­ern­ment actions and best prac­tices – which was mod­er­ated by ADL Wash­ing­ton Coun­sel Michael Lieber­man.  The meet­ing built on a Decem­ber 2011 Pres­i­den­tial Mem­o­ran­dum on “Inter­na­tional Ini­tia­tives to Advance the Human Rights of Les­bian, Gay, Bisex­ual, and Trans­gen­der Per­sons.” Fed­eral agen­cies – espe­cially USAID, the Jus­tice Depart­ment, and the State Depart­ment – have done a lot of work on the issue.  The State Depart­ment released a report in May 2014 detail­ing its progress on car­ry­ing out the President’s Memorandum.

ADL works to address dis­crim­i­na­tion and vio­lence against LGBT indi­vid­u­als in the United States and abroad, fil­ing ami­cus briefs in Supreme Court cases, con­duct­ing work­shops and train­ing for edu­ca­tors and law enforce­ment offi­cials, and encour­ag­ing the col­lec­tion of hate crime sta­tis­tics that help local and fed­eral law enforce­ment track and address this issue. ADL rep­re­sen­ta­tives also helped craft the sem­i­nal OSCE pub­li­ca­tion, Hate Crime Laws: A Prac­ti­cal Guide, and main­tain rela­tion­ships with many human rights groups to track anti-Semitism, hate crimes, and vio­lence and dis­crim­i­na­tion against LGBT per­sons at home and abroad.  ADL Wash­ing­ton Office Direc­tor Stacy Bur­dett, who also attended the con­fer­ence, leads that work.

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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 (used in France) and (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 (uti­lizado en Fran­cia) y (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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