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June 17, 2015

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

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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July 21, 2014

Hate on Display: Anti-Semitism in Anti-Israel Demonstrations Across Europe

Jews attacked. Synagogues targeted. Israel demonized. These patterns of anti-Semitism were seen at many anti-Israel demonstrations around Europe this past weekend.

On Friday, a protestor in Berlin attacked an Israeli man wearing a kippah, who happened to be passing the demonstration route. The same day in Lyon, France, a protester hit a Jewish teenager in the head while yelling, “I want to kill all the Jews.” He was arrested on the spot by police. The same murderous intent was reportedly expressed in Zurich, where demonstrators chanted, “Jews into the sea!”

On Friday, in Essen, Germany, anti-Israel protesters broke off from a demonstration and headed towards a synagogue, clearly intending to attack it.   Police stopped them, arrested fourteen, and charged them with conspiracy to commit a crime.

On Saturday, in Sarcelles, France, anti-Israel protesters threw a Molotov cocktail in the direction of a synagogue, but police had kept them far enough away that the firebomb did no damage. Protesters did manage, however, to burn a kosher supermarket to the ground. The same store had been attacked with an improvised grenade in 2012.

Syn­a­gogue in Ver­celli, Italy

Syn­a­gogue in Ver­celli, Italy

Synagogues in Italy and France were also targeted with anti-Israel banners. “Stop Bombing Gaza. Israel Assassins. Free Palestine” was hung on the synagogue in Vercelli, Italy, on July 18, and an “Israel Assassins” banner was placed on a synagogue in Lyon the next day.

While these banners would not be considered anti-Semitic at a demonstration, they are anti-Semitic when targeting the local Jewish community.

Comparing Israel to the Nazis is also anti-Semitic and prevalent at anti-Israel demonstrations. On Friday, “Israel=Hitler” signs were held up in Brussels. In London, it was “Well Done Israel, Hitler would be Proud.” And in Dublin, Prime Minister Netanyahu is depicted as Hitler on a sign, “Wanted: Zio Nazi”.

On Sunday in Amsterdam, one protester took demonization quite literally: “Stop Sionist [sic] Demons in Gaza.”


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