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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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May 31, 2013 0

New Government Documents Detail Decades Of Global Terrorist Activities By Iran And Hezbollah

In recent days, reports issued by gov­ern­ment bod­ies in Argentina and the United States detail the inten­sive and far-reaching ter­ror­ist activ­ity by Iran and its Lebanese-based ter­ror­ist proxy, Hezbol­lahiran-hezbollah-global-terrorism

On May 29, Alberto Nis­man, the Gen­eral Pros­e­cu­tor of the case involv­ing the 1994 bomb­ing of the AMIA Jew­ish cen­ter in Argentina, issued a lengthy indict­ment accus­ing the Iran­ian regime of infil­trat­ing sev­eral South Amer­i­can coun­tries through build­ing local intel­li­gence gath­er­ing facil­i­ties tasked with fos­ter­ing and exe­cut­ing ter­ror­ist attacks. The report claims that the plan­ning for these attacks is car­ried out either directly by the Iran­ian gov­ern­ment or its proxy, Hezbollah.

The Nis­man report comes a few months after Argentina and Iran agreed to estab­lish a joint “truth com­mis­sion” to inves­ti­gate the AMIA attack. In his report, Nis­man argues that the AMIA bomb­ings, which he had pre­vi­ously accused senior Iran­ian offi­cials  of plan­ning and financ­ing (and for which there is an Inter­pol red alert war­rant, includ­ing for two who are can­di­dates in the upcom­ing Iran­ian pres­i­dent elec­tion), were not iso­lated inci­dents, and should be exam­ined “as a seg­ment in a larger sequence.” He high­lights par­al­lels between the AMIA bomb­ing and other Iranian-backed ter­ror­ist plots, includ­ing the case of two Guyanese men with ties to the Iran­ian gov­ern­ment con­victed in 2010 of con­spir­ing to bomb JFK Air­port. Nis­man argues that Iran could be oper­at­ing ter­ror­ist cells in other South Amer­i­can coun­tries, includ­ing Brazil, Chile, Colum­bia, Guyana, Paraguay, Suri­name, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay. 

In its annual ter­ror­ism report issued on May 30th, the State Depart­ment states that Iran­ian and Hezbol­lah ter­ror­ist oper­a­tions have “reached a tempo unseen since the 1990s, with attacks plot­ted in South­east Asia, Europe, and Africa,” high­lighted by the sus­pected Iran­ian and Hezbol­lah involve­ment in recent attacks and plots in Bul­garia, Cyprus, Thai­land, Geor­gia, Kenya and India.   In addi­tion to Iran’s global ter­ror activ­i­ties, the report also notes Iran’s regional involve­ment in train­ing, fund­ing and pro­vid­ing weapons to the Assad regime, Hamas and other Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ist groups, Hezbollah’s oper­a­tions in Lebanon and Shia mil­i­tant groups in Iraq.  

There is also grow­ing evi­dence that Iran and Hezbol­lah are oper­at­ing ter­ror­ist cells in other regions of the world.  On May 30, the Niger­ian mil­i­tary announced the arrest of three admit­ted Hezbol­lah oper­a­tives, all Lebanese nation­als, who were in pos­ses­sion of exten­sive weaponry, includ­ing land­mines, anti-tank weapons, dyna­mite, grenades and machines guns. The mil­i­tary spokesman stated that the oper­a­tives were plan­ning on attack­ing Israeli and West­ern targets.

Mean­while, reports indi­cate that the Euro­pean Union is mov­ing closer to des­ig­nat­ing Hezbol­lah as a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion.  ADL has urged the EU to avoid label­ing only Hezbollah’s “mil­i­tary wing” as ter­ror­ist, argu­ing that a par­tial des­ig­na­tion is unlikely to have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on Hezbollah’s fundrais­ing activ­i­ties in Europe, and will cre­ate addi­tional chal­lenges for law enforce­ment efforts against ter­ror­ist financing.

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May 22, 2013 2

State Department’s Religious Freedom Report Recognizes Severity Of Global Anti-Semitism


Des­e­cra­tion of Jew­ish cemetery

On May 20, 2013, U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry released the State Department’s annual Inter­na­tional Reli­gious Free­dom Report for 2012, describ­ing the U.S. assess­ment of the sta­tus of reli­gious free­dom in every coun­try. The report cov­ers gov­ern­ment poli­cies vio­lat­ing reli­gious belief and prac­tices of groups, reli­gious denom­i­na­tions and indi­vid­u­als, and U.S. poli­cies to pro­mote reli­gious free­dom around the world.

This annual report demon­strates the Amer­i­can com­mit­ment to the fun­da­men­tal demo­c­ra­tic right to prac­tice one’s reli­gion with­out inter­fer­ence from gov­ern­ment and sig­ni­fies and under­scores the role gov­ern­ments must play in pro­tect­ing that right.  It shines a light on a num­ber of impor­tant issues specif­i­cally related to the per­se­cu­tion of reli­gious minori­ties, includ­ing gov­ern­ment spon­sored dis­crim­i­na­tion, reli­gious big­otry and hatred prop­a­gated by the media, and vio­lence directed at spe­cific reli­gious denominations.

While address­ing all forms of reli­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion, the U.S. government’s role in mon­i­tor­ing and com­bat­ting anti-Jewish expres­sions around the world is an impor­tant fea­ture of the report. It high­lights inci­dents of anti-Semitism on the gov­ern­men­tal level, in pol­i­tics and within the media, and doc­u­ments acts of van­dal­ism and vio­lence directed at Jews. These include:

Iran — The government’s con­tin­ued Holo­caust denial and prop­a­ga­tion of anti-Semitic stereo­types, includ­ing pro­nounce­ments by Pres­i­dent Ahmadine­jad regard­ing “Zionists…ruling the major world affairs” for some 400 years.

Egypt — Senior Mus­lim Broth­er­hood offi­cials, includ­ing Supreme Guide Mohamed Badei, fre­quently issue anti-Semitic state­ments, while the media airs anti-Semitic pro­gram­ming, includ­ing the TV series “Horse­man with­out a Horse” based on the noto­ri­ous anti-Semitic forgery “The Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion.” The wide­spread hatred and vio­lence directed at Egypt’s Cop­tic Chris­t­ian com­mu­nity is also mentioned.

Venezuela — Anti-Semitism is quite preva­lent in the gov­ern­ment con­trolled media, par­tic­u­larly in opin­ion pieces and edi­to­r­ial car­toons. The recent pres­i­den­tial can­di­dacy of Hen­rique Capriles, a Catholic of Jew­ish descent, was a main focus of the media’s anti-Semitism. 

Chile - There has been an increase in the num­ber anti-Semitic pub­lic state­ments, par­tic­u­larly across social media plat­forms. Inci­dents of anti-Jewish van­dal­ism are on the rise, and a num­ber of phys­i­cal attacks against Jews were doc­u­mented, includ­ing an assault on a 14 year-old by a group of Neo-Nazis.

The State Department’s report also makes a num­ber of ref­er­ences to ADL’s work in high­light­ing and com­bat­ing global anti-Semitism, par­tic­u­larly in Europe. These include:

Aus­tria – ADL’s train­ing projects with the Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion on Holo­caust education.

Greece – ADL’s state­ments call­ing on gov­ern­ment author­i­ties to do more to counter the anti-Semitic rhetoric and vio­lent actions of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn polit­i­cal party.

Hun­gary – ADL’s state­ments call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to enforce a new law that would hold mem­bers of par­lia­ment legally account­able for espous­ing hate­ful remarks. This law was in reac­tion to an anti-Semitic state­ment by a mem­ber of country’s neo-Nazi Job­bik party, who called on par­lia­ment to “assess how many MPs and gov­ern­ment mem­bers are of Jew­ish ori­gin and who present a national secu­rity risk to Hun­gary.” The report also cited ADL’s sur­vey on anti-Semitic atti­tudes in Hun­gary which showed a sig­nif­i­cant rise in the per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion har­bor­ing anti-Semitic attitudes.

Turkey – ADL’s state­ment crit­i­ciz­ing a cos­met­ics com­pany for fea­tur­ing Adolph Hitler in a sham­poo com­mer­cial that ran on state television.

The State Department’s Inter­na­tional Reli­gious Free­dom Report for 2012 can be found here.

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