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February 28, 2014 0

U.S. Highlights Anti-Semitism as a Human Rights Concern

Yes­ter­day Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry released the 2013 Coun­try Reports on Human Rights Prac­tices, a com­pendium of the world’s worst human rights vio­la­tions, includ­ing Bashar Al-Assad’s bru­tal­ity against his own peo­ple in Syria and crack­downs on fun­da­men­tal free­doms in places like Rus­sia, Egypt, and Ukraine.

The report high­lighted another major human rights con­cern that man­i­fests in just about every region: the per­sis­tence of anti-Semitism, whether pro­moted by offi­cial media, polit­i­cal par­ties, or ped­dled on the streets in the form of graf­fiti or harassment.

 

Anti-Semitism also remained a sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem in 2013. Accord­ing to a sur­vey of eight Euro­pean mem­ber states by the Euro­pean Union Agency for Fun­da­men­tal Rights, harass­ment of Jews con­tin­ued, with one-quarter of respon­dents stat­ing they expe­ri­enced some form of anti-Semitic harass­ment in the 12 months before the sur­vey. In the Mid­dle East, media occa­sion­ally con­tained anti-Semitic arti­cles and car­toons, some of which glo­ri­fied or denied the Holo­caust and blamed all Jews for actions by the state of Israel.

Threats to reli­gious prac­tice also emerged dur­ing the year. For exam­ple, the Par­lia­men­tary Assem­bly of the Coun­cil of Europe passed a non-binding res­o­lu­tion imply­ing that reli­gious male cir­cum­ci­sion – as prac­ticed by Jews and Mus­lims, and other reli­gions – is a human rights violation.

 

These reports are cause for con­cern but they also point to the increase in U.S. report­ing on anti-Semitism as a human rights prob­lem.  ADL has called for rig­or­ous U.S. mon­i­tor­ing as an indis­pens­able tool in spot­light­ing the prob­lem and sup­ported enact­ment of the law requires U.S. embassies to report trends in anti-Semitism as part of their core human rights work.

Today, the num­ber of coun­tries in which the State Depart­ment is doc­u­ment­ing inci­dents of anti-Semitism has more than dou­bled since that new law was enacted.  The increased cov­er­age of anti-Semitism in these annual reports reflects a greater aware­ness of what anti-Semitism is and how it threat­ens human rights.  Indeed, the reports have grown increas­ingly atten­tive to the issue of how anti-Semitism in the pub­lic dis­course puts Jews at risk, as well as how hos­til­ity toward Israel and Jews is too fre­quently commingled.

The State Department’s Report details infringe­ments on human rights around the globe, includ­ing but not lim­ited to government-sponsored per­se­cu­tion, bias and big­oted por­trayal of minor­ity groups in the media, anti-Semitic inci­dents, attacks on the LGBT com­mu­nity, and the mar­gin­al­iza­tion of per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties. Sec­re­tary Kerry high­lighted, in yesterday’s press con­fer­ence, the nearly 80 coun­tries that crim­i­nal­ize homo­sex­u­al­ity around the globe, and the strug­gle that those of the LGBT com­mu­nity face to sur­vive, even in coun­tries where homo­sex­u­al­ity is not criminalized.

This rou­tinized and required scrutiny of anti-Semitism and the full panoply of rights vio­la­tions is accom­pa­nied by increased aware­ness and enhanced engage­ment by America’s diplo­mats.  And we know that under­stand­ing the nature and mag­ni­tude of a prob­lem  is an essen­tial jump­ing off point for pre­ven­tion. When there is data, there is aware­ness; where there is aware­ness, there can be action.

 

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October 17, 2012 12

White Supremacist Jared Taylor’s Speech at Texas A&M Is Sponsored by Neo-Nazi

Pre­ston Wiginton

Pre­ston Wig­in­ton, a 48-year-old neo-Nazi and for­mer racist skin­head, is spon­sor­ing a speech by white suprema­cist Jared Tay­lor at Texas A&M Uni­ver­sity on Octo­ber 23, 2012.  In an announce­ment about the speech, Tay­lor claims that there are “ongo­ing efforts to dis­place white Tex­ans at the uni­ver­sity” and refers read­ers to a Texas A&M report that dis­cusses racial diversity.

This will be the sec­ond time this month that Tay­lor has been invited to speak at a col­lege cam­pus. In early Octo­ber, he spoke at Tow­son Uni­ver­sity in Mary­land about the “legit­i­macy of white racial con­scious­ness” at the behest of the White Stu­dent Union.

Wig­in­ton is a famil­iar fig­ure at Texas A&M, where he is a for­mer stu­dent. In Jan­u­ary 2012, he held a demon­stra­tion at the cam­pus against Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement.

In the past, Wig­in­ton has brought other con­tro­ver­sial fig­ures to the cam­pus. In fall 2007, he spon­sored an appear­ance at Texas A&M by Nick Grif­fin, who was then the head of the ultra-right British National Party (BNP), a party that attracted many neo-Nazis.  Grif­fin spoke on the spread of Islam in Europe in a speech titled, “Islam, Ter­ror and West­ern Civilization.”

Ear­lier that year, Wig­in­ton also had the idea to bring Tay­lor to cam­pus to speak about diver­sity issues at the school. Wig­in­ton claimed he had attended a diver­sity sym­po­sium set up to address racial ten­sion at Texas A&M and he then chal­lenged the Asso­ciate Provost of Diver­sity at Texas A&M to debate Tay­lor. The cam­pus paper The Bat­tal­ion reported that Wig­in­ton held a 2-by-4 foot sign to pro­mote the debate, which did not take place.

Wig­in­ton is also vir­u­lently anti-immigrant. In Novem­ber 2005, he orga­nized and funded a lec­ture tour for anti-immigration activist Frosty Wooldridge. The tour cov­ered five Texas uni­ver­si­ties, includ­ing Texas A&M. The pur­pose of Wooldridge’s tour was to gather sig­na­tures on a peti­tion against Texas House Bill 1403, which gave chil­dren of undoc­u­mented immi­grants in-state col­lege tuition rates if they had grad­u­ated from a Texas high school and lived in the state for three years.

In addi­tion to liv­ing in Texas, Wig­in­ton has spent a lot of time in Rus­sia. In 2007, he addressed thou­sands of Russ­ian nation­al­ists at the Russ­ian March, which pro­moted Russ­ian nation­al­ism and attacked non-white immi­gra­tion. The par­tic­i­pants gave Nazi salutes at the march and shouted, “White power.”  Shortly after this event Wig­in­ton forged ties with Alexan­der Belov, an anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant nation­al­ist in Rus­sia.  In addi­tion, that year Wig­in­ton spoke at an annual memo­r­ial rally in Swe­den in honor of a 17-year-old neo-Nazi who was killed by non-Swedes in 2000.

Wig­in­ton was also active in racist skin­head cir­cles. In 2005, he attended a racist skin­head Ham­mer­fest in Drake­town, Geor­gia, and won the “World’s Strongest Skin­head Competition.”

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