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Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

International Organizations: Combating Anti-Semitism in Europe

Filed under: Anti-Semitism, Europe and Israel
Publication: Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review 16:3-4 (Fall 2004)


This article describes the processes by which Jewish organizations, led by the major American groups, have tried to alert international organizations to the threat that anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence in Europe again poses to Jewish communities and to democracy itself. At a series of conferences of the OSCE and the European institutions, these Jewish groups have overcome governments’ reluctance to address the issue and have focused attention particularly on the threats posed by the spillover of Middle East tensions and the anti-Semitic messages promoted by Arab states, their media, and Islamist bodies. The Jewish NGOs aim to encourage the international organizations and European governments to face up to their responsibilities to protect their Jewish citizens, accept that anti-Semitism is different from other forms of discrimination, and begin to monitor and combat the threat through governmental and police action.


In December 2002, the OSCE’s (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Ministerial Council meeting in Porto set in motion a process that is still in its early stages and whose development is uncertain. What is certain, however, is that the Jewish participants mean it to result in some lasting changes in the way that European countries treat their Jewish communities. This process began in 1990 at the Copenhagen Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe when European countries, the United States, and Canada formally committed themselves to specific measures to combat anti- Semitism, which were subsequently endorsed by heads of state in the Charter of Paris.1 However, the issue took on urgency in 2000. Few Jewish organizations had foreseen what would happen at the United Nations World Conference against Racism in Durban that summer.

The Arab states and Palestinian NGOs had successfully worked on other NGOs, particularly from the Third World, during the regional preconferences, and what should have been a forum for debating means to combat racism became one for promoting anti-Semitism, one of the oldest forms of prejudice. Of course there were other issues, and some positive outcomes, but any accomplishments of this NGO conference were completely overshadowed by the Jew-hatred on display from the Arab and pro-Arab bloc. It was an eye-opening and traumatic experience for the Jewish representatives.

Durban, therefore, was the catalyst for the Jewish NGOs to seek relief in other international forums. What propelled them, however, was the sudden and dramatic rise in anti-Semitic violence around the world, particularly in Western Europe, that followed the start of the second Palestinian intifada in September 2000.

The idea that the OSCE could be an effective vehicle for combating anti-Semitism came initially from the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, but the body to which it is affiliated, the American Jewish Committee, has provided the focal point for the Jewish groups’ campaign.


The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

Outside of member governments and international human rights NGOs, the OSCE is little known or understood. It has, in fact, proved to be one of the more effective international bodies in practical terms, particularly in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union countries. Born of the Helsinki Process, which aimed to reduce East-West tensions, the OSCE brings together the former Warsaw Pact states, NATO, and CENTO. Its fifty-five member states are represented at ambassadorial level at its headquarters in Vienna, and their initiatives are annually discussed and ratified by the states’ foreign ministers.

In addition to tension reduction and security, the OSCE works on the human rights dimension through its subsidiary Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The ODIHR seeks to monitor the human rights of minorities within the area and promote their better treatment, often launching local initiatives.


The Porto Conference

The Foreign Ministerial Conference held in Porto in December 2002 declared its concern over the “manifestation of aggressive nationalism, racism, chauvinism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and violent extremism, wherever they may occur.” In particular, the statement decried the recent increase in anti-Semitic incidents (while also condemning the increase in discrimination and violence against Muslims). The statement also recalled previous international agreements that had dealt with the issue – particularly the 1990 Copenhagen OSCE conference; the Charter for European Security; the Istanbul Summit of 1999, which reaffirmed full adherence to the UN Charter and to the Helsinki Final Act; and other OSCE documents, including the decision taken at a previous Ministerial Council meeting in Bucharest at which anti- Semitism was also condemned. What made this decision different, however, was that it authorized the OSCE to take action. It empowered the organization to make strong public statements against hate speech, aggressive nationalism, and anti-Semitism and, importantly, mandated the Chairman in Office (at that time the Dutch ambassador, Daan Everts) and the Permanent Council, in close cooperation with the ODIHR, to ensure effective follow-up via the annual Human Dimension meetings and seminars.2


The Vienna Conference

Although not officially billed as an OSCE conference but only as an “event,” the meeting in Vienna in June 2003, which followed directly from the Porto meeting, was the first high-level conference by an international organization to be devoted specifically to anti-Semitism. More than four hundred participants from governments and NGOs considered means to prevent anti-Semitism such as awareness raising, education, antidiscrimination legislation, law enforcement, cultural preservation, and others.

The Vienna conference was preceded by a two-day seminar on human rights and anti-Semitism organized by the Jacob Blaustein Institute. Participants from the larger human rights organizations and Jewish NGOs sought to learn from each other’s experience in defining and recording human rights abuses. Until that point Jewish community groups had generally failed to interact with human rights groups, and they in turn had failed to see anti-Semitism as a human rights abuse. Methodologies for recording and analyzing anti- Semitism were discussed, and the conference concluded with a set of recommendations that noted the rise in anti-Semitism and called on OSCE participating states to undertake ongoing monitoring, reporting, and follow-up of the phenomenon. The conference also proposed that governments undertake educational programs on human rights and nondiscrimination and launch awareness-raising campaigns.3

The Vienna conference itself came about because of U.S. government insistence, with the U.S. ambassador to the OSCE, Steve Minikes, whose grandmother died in Auschwitz, playing a key role. “The fact that such a meeting is necessary” stated Everts,

is in itself deplorable, but we would be remiss not to recognise that this still exists….It is shocking to have to acknowledge that anti- Semitism has shamelessly recurred after the Holocaust and may even be on the rise, as witnessed by recent instances….All this is occurring in the year 2003 in various parts of the OSCE. It will be a grave mistake to ignore or belittle this in the hope it will prove ephemeral. We have seen what that cultimately – might lead to.4

The conference began with an address by Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, and proceeded with a keynote address by Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, former Polish foreign minister, Auschwitz prisoner, and cofounder of the underground Zegota Council for Aid to Jews (Zegota was the cryptonym for the clandestine organization that provided assistance to the Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland during 1942-1945 and was financed by the London-based Polish Government in Exile). Eli Wiesel was to have given the second keynote address, but he was detained by illness and his address was read out for him. Both of these presentations considered the historical nature of anti- Semitism. The conference continued with various sessions on legislative mechanisms, governmental action, governments’ role in promoting tolerance, the importance of education, information awareness, and so on. Participants expressed concern over the rise in anti-Semitic incidents and noted that anti-Semitism threatens not only Jews but society as a whole. Several speakers noted the importance of compiling statistics on hate-crime and anti-Semitic incidents in a uniform fashion and subsequently analyzing the data. All agreed that there was a clear need for legislative action and that the Holocaust should be commemorated by each country on a special day.

What was clear toward the conclusion was that a separate conference was required to examine the specifics of countering anti-Semitism, and the German delegation proposed a follow-up conference to be held in Berlin during 2004. What was equally obvious, however, to the Jewish participants was the governments’ failure to recognize that anti-Semitism was now coming from new and different directions. Keynote addresses by Hebrew University Professor Robert Wistrich, former French Justice Minister Robert Badinter, and Professor Irwin Cotler, then a Canadian Member of Parliament but shortly to be appointed justice minister, stressed this issue. They each noted that this new anti-Semitism had the potential to be every bit as genocidal as that of the Nazis, but it was unclear to the Jewish participants if government representatives had actually absorbed what was being told them.

Badinter very clearly spelled it out:

In actual fact, the current upsurge of anti-Semitism in France and other countries in Europe is primarily anti-Zionist in inspiration. Nothing could be more meaningful, in that respect, than to analyse the acts of anti-Semitic violence committed in France over the past ten years. In 1992, there were 20 recorded acts of anti-Semitic violence. Then their number dwindled significantly between 1992 and 1998: 3 in 1997, just 1 in 1998. In 1999, on the other hand, there were 9 acts of anti-Semitism. The figures explode starting in 2000, with 119. Practically all of them, 114, occurred after 28 September 2000 and the outbreak of the second Intifada and the Israeli-Palestinian clashes, which were widely reported on television. Still more noteworthy, of the 193 acts recorded in 2002, the majority took place after [the Israeli army’s] offensive in the est Bank and the resurgence of suicide attacks against the Israeli population in spring 2002, especially during Passover….Their perpetrators, meanwhile, are hard to identify and arrest due to the nature of these events. However, out of 77 people arrested, 55 are of North African origin and 6 of African origin; all hail from the “sensitive” suburban neighbourhood, notably around Paris….This is how current anti-Semitism takes its origin most acutely from anti-Zionism.5

Cotler pointed out that the new, lethal anti-Semitism is frequently transmitted on the Internet and that a new vocabulary is needed to combat it. Traditional anti-Semitism is addressed to individual Jews; the new anti-Semitism is addressed to Israel, the new “collective” Jew among nations. What makes the new different from the old is that the new is global and genocidal, calling for the destruction of Israel and the Jews via a combination of genocide and anti-Semitism. Cotler referred delegates to the covenant of Hamas, fatwahs originating from the Middle East, and direct calls for Israel’s elimination by states such as Iran. New anti-Semitism is particularly insidious because of its sophistication and its disguise as antiracism – by, for example, characterizing Israel as a Nazi state. Additionally, new anti-Semitism has become legalized, whereas Israel is singled out for different treatment by the United Nations and other international bodies.6

The Vienna conference marked a promising start, but it was apparent that political pressure was required by Jewish NGOs and by America and Germany, which were now sharing the leadership within the OSCE, to bring about practical outcomes. For instance, the U.S. delegation leader, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, stressed the importance of monitoring and data collection as well as a second conference.

During the following year, debates at the higher levels of the OSCE indicated some degree of reluctance by governments, particularly those within the European Union, to address the issue of anti-Semitism. However, France’s change of heart signaled the beginning of a new approach. The French government has become increasingly concerned about the promotion of hate via the Internet, and during that year announced its acceptance of the proposed second conference on condition that it could host a conference on cyberhate. Russia, however, opposed any attempt to further debate the issue, and Britain was purportedly mostly concerned about the OSCE commitment to zero budget growth and what it believed to be a more serious problem of human trafficking. Some representatives also said they were concerned that the OSCE would further enhance its reputation for the mere staging of talk shops rather than concrete accomplishments.


The Rotterdam and Warsaw Conferences

A resolution passed, however, at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Rotterdam from 5-9 July lent impetus for a second conference.7 There the U.S. delegation, led by Congressman Christopher Smith, submitted a draft resolution on combating anti-Semitism that recommended creating a monitoring system. The resolution was passed by unanimous vote including a U.S. amendment and another submitted by the Swiss representative, and Parliamentary Assembly vice-president, Barbara Haering, that recognized the participating states’ responsibilities to promote tolerance and nondiscrimination. The amendment proposed by Smith, and agreed by all, urged states that had not already done so to join the Taskforce for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, and to implement the provisions of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust.8

Additionally and perhaps even more importantly, a letter, jointly signed by Gert Weisskirchen and Christopher Smith, was distributed to all Parliamentary Assembly members. Weisskirchen, former academic and foreign affairs spokesman for the Social Democrat Party in the German Bundestag, and currently an OSCE vice-president, and Smith, leader of the U.S. delegation and likewise a current OSCE vice president, stated that they now had the support for a further conference and for an action program on anti-Semitism from the French, Italian, Canadian, and Swedish delegations, and asked to personally meet members of others to enlist their support.9

The quid pro quo for holding the anti-Semitism conference in Vienna was agreement to hold a separate conference on racism, xenophobia, and discrimination that would focus on the role of governments and civil society in promoting greater tolerance and support for victims of those ills. Here the subtext was essentially one of addressing the concerns of Muslim communities in Europe, and keynote addresses were given by the Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mustafa Ceric, and Lord Nazir Ahmed (a Labour Party councillor from Rotherham, Yorkshire), who both dwelt on European Muslim communities’ fears that they were increasingly being demonized, particularly by the media. Only a few Jewish NGOs attended this conference, both to give the Muslim and other minorities space to express their own particular concerns and also, more important, because it was believed anti-Semitism needed to be dealt with separately from other forms of hatred.

The OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw in October 2003 gave the Jewish NGOs a further opportunity to lobby for the second conference on anti-Semitism. The Jewish delegates urged acceptance of the German proposal for a follow-up meeting to be held in Berlin during 2004, which would move beyond recognition of the problems toward adopting concrete programs. They further urged the conference to recommend an “assignment of responsibility” within the OSCE, possibly through a contact point for monitoring and reporting on anti-Semitic incidents and promoting a comprehensive human rights approach by states. They argued that states only now were beginning to comprehend that anti-Semitism is a mutating virus that comes from different and sometimes new directions. Some Jewish communities now felt less threatened by the racist far Right and more by the spillover of tensions from the Middle East.10

Jewish participants took the opportunity to debate their recommendation and to lobby specific countries’ representatives to support the German offer. At the end of the meeting, the chairman of the conference announced that there was a consensus among member states to recommend to the forthcoming Ministerial Council meeting in Maastricht that the OSCE accept the German government’s offer to hold a follow-up conference. Again an additional conference was to be held on xenophobia and racism, which initially the British government sought to host but subsequently the Belgian government agreed to take on, scheduling it for September 2004.

The German delegates, led by Gert Weisskirchen and Claudia Roth, commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the German Foreign Office, informed the Jewish NGOs’ representatives that President Johannes Rau wished to host the conference and to address it shortly before his departure from office and to coincide with the state visit of Israeli President Moshe Katzav during May 2004 (in the event the conference took place some time before the state visit) They suggested that the Jewish NGOs’ network discuss their ideas for an agenda and what their desired outcome was likely to be.


Steps by the European Union

Parallel to attempts to persuade the OSCE to monitor and combat anti-Semitism were the moves within the European Union itself. So far these have resulted in two initiatives, with the prospect of a third to follow. The first of these was undertaken by the European Jewish Congress (EJC) with the aim of having the European Monitoring Centre against Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), headquartered in Vienna, compile a report on anti-Semitism. That it had failed to do so counted to its discredit, particularly given that the initiative for its establishment had come from Jean Kahn, the former president of the EJC, of the Conseil Representatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF), and of the Consistoire (the principal religious organization in France), of which he remains honorary president.

A series of meetings took place between the EUMC director, Beate Winkler, and EJC officials in the run-up to commissioning the report that resulted in the compilation of an evaluation study on anti- Semitism in each country by Alexander Pollak. This, in turn, led to the EUMC requesting its National Focal Points within the Racism and Xenophobic Network of NGOs (RAXEN) to prepare an overview of anti-Semitism covering May and June 2000 in their respective countries.

The Centre for Research on Anti-Semitism (ZfA) at Berlin’s Technical University was contracted to analyze the reports and publish a composite analysis, which it did within the short space of time allowed for this. However, the result was not well received by the EUMC board, allegedly because it apportioned much of the blame for the rise in anti-Semitism to Muslim expatriate communities. The report itself was not published for nine months after its completion, leading to serious criticism of the EUMC by the EJC, which remained unresolved until the report was leaked to the EJC by the Berlin authors. The reason given by the EUMC management board was that the report prepared by the Berlin Institute was not reliable enough to warrant publication and hence a complementary study had been requested in order to complete the report, whose publication was not expected until March 2004.

At the same time that this process was unfolding, a poll requested by the European Commission from the Eurobarometer organization found that more Europeans saw Israel as a danger to security than any other state mentioned, which caused outrage within Jewish communities. A press release from the EJC asked:

Isn’t the identity of the rogue states well-known to all Europeans? Hasn’t the European Union published a list of known terrorist organizations?

By singling out Israel as representing the Middle East as a whole, and excluding any mention of the Palestinians, those who commissioned the survey knew exactly what they were looking for. As any pollster knows, “the answer lies in the question.”

Why is the European Union incapable of producing a report on anti-Semitism in Europe, promised two years ago, when it can, within six months of the Iraqi war publish the results of a large-scale in- flammatory survey?11

The first EUMC report was released to the press by the EJC in December 2003. In their covering letter they stated:

The European Jewish Congress has decided to publish the report of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) in Vienna. The study, prepared by the Anti-Semitism Research Institute at Berlin’s Technical University was confiscated by decision of the Board of Directors of the EUMC.

This despite a preface endorsing the findings and recommendations of the study written by the President and by the director of the EUMC.

The EJC condemns this unilateral and eminently political decision…. This report on anti-Semitic acts in the European Union will be simultaneously broadcast on the websites of the national Jewish communities affiliated to the European Jewish Congress.12

The second report, prepared by former Luxembourg Foreign Ministry spokesman Victor Weitzel and Warsaw University Professor Magdalena Sroder on “Perceptions of Anti-Semitism in the European Union,” was published side by side with the main country-bycountry analysis as “Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the EU 2002-2003” on 31 March 2004. These long-awaited analyses were in fact a reasonable effort even given the limited amount of time allowed for their preparation, and the controversy surrounding their publication. However, further controversy was to bedevil their release, on this occasion caused by the mishandling of the launch. The press release that accompanied them suggested that the far Right remained the main promoter of anti-Semitism within Europe, whereas the body of the first report, and particularly the general assessment, suggested otherwise, confirming the views of Jewish community leaders and defense agencies.

In the report’s conclusions, the authors state that:

there is indeed evidence to support the view that there is a link between the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents and the political situation in the Middle East. Furthermore, some of the data indicates that there have been changes in the profile of perpetrators. It is not any more the extreme right that is mainly responsible for hostility towards Jewish individuals or property (or public property with a symbolic relation to the Holocaust or to Jews) – especially during the periods when registered incidents peak. In some countries, like Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK, a varying proportion of victims of hostility classify perpetrators to be “young Muslims,” “people of North African origin,” or “immigrants.”13

The final section, on proposals for action, likewise contains sensible and balanced recommendations.

The second initiative, undertaken again by the EJC and with the Council of European Rabbis, was designed to have the European Commission itself learn about anti-Semitism so as to take informed action. Here again the process was bedeviled by an initial reluctance on the part of the European institutions to acknowledge the issue and the direction the new anti-Semitism was coming from.

This began with a series of meetings between EJC leaders and elected European Commission leaders from 2003 onward. Among these was a meeting in November 2003 between Italian President Silvio Berlusconi, then president of the European Union, EJC and World Jewish Congress (WJC) leaders. Berlusconi requested a brief report that he could use to promote the process within European institutions, and the EJC undertook to provide such a report. This document again pointed out that anti-Semitic violence began to rise in the wake of the second intifada, and that incidents rose and fell after tensions in the Middle East.

In December 2003 EJC leaders briefed EC President Romano Prodi, following which he undertook to organize a joint seminar to inform EC leaders. This, however, was almost derailed by the publication of EJC President Cobi Benato. and WJC Chairman Israel Singer’s opinion piece in the Financial Times that accused European institutions of intellectual dishonesty and moral treachery in handling the issue of anti-Semitism. The Jewish leaders cited the Eurobarometer opinion poll and the alleged suppression of the EUMC study, and asserted: “Anti-Semitism can be expressed in two ways: by action and inaction. Remarkably, the European Commission is guilty of both . . . let us not mince words: both of these actions were politically motivated, demonstrating a failure of will and decency.”14

The seminar was finally held in Brussels in February 2004 under the auspices of the European Commission, the EJC, and the Conference of European Rabbis. A succession of Jewish leaders voiced their increasing concern at the damage being done to Europe by its failure to confront rising anti-Semitic levels. Prodi, while seeking to dismiss the Eurobarometer poll and the temporary shelving of the EUMC report, nevertheless showed real concern and put in motion what is hoped will develop into the third initiative. This is the creation of an oversight committee composed of EC and EJC officials to monitor anti-Semitism within the EU.15

At the same time that this process was unfolding, the WJC was seeking to resurrect a UN General Assembly Resolution condemning anti-Semitism that had been circulated by Ireland in November 2003, and that had met strong Arab opposition and been withdrawn. In January 2004 WJC and EJC leaders met with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who by then was also president of the European Union, having succeeded Berlusconi. They requested that the European Union take strong measures against the recurrence of anti-Semitism in Europe, that it support the EC-funded seminar on anti-Semitism, and that Ireland once again bring forward its resolution condemning anti- Semitism to the UN General Assembly.


The Council of Europe

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) is an agency responsible to the Directorate General of Human Rights of the Council of Europe (CoE), working in parallel with the EUMC but with a focus on legislative action against racism. ECRI’s work primarily involves country visits and the preparation of country reports that chart any progress or problems encountered by the CoE member states in enacting legislation and other measures to defeat racism. It, too, has noted the rise in anti-Semitism in recent years and in early 2004 began preparing a recommendation on fighting anti-Semitism. It established a working group and in March 2004 circulated its draft General Policy Recommendation No. 9, which ECRI adopted in final form in June 2004 and is scheduled for public release in September 2004.16

Parallel to this, three Members of the European Parliament, Jean Thomas Nordmann, Glyn Ford, and Leonard Sacrédeus, submitted a resolution to the Parliament condemning anti-Semitism and urging the European Council and Commission to take the necessary steps to coordinate their actions to combat anti-Semitism. They asked that the European Commission report back to the Parliament with plans for future action.17


The Berlin Conference

The OSCE Berlin Conference on Anti-Semitism at the end of April 2004 was preceded first by a workshop organized by the American Jewish Committee that focused on education to combat anti-Semitism, and second by a major NGO Forum that addressed a wide range of relevant topics. Both events brought together Jewish and non-Jewish educators from the member states. While recommending historical and Holocaust education within the region, the participants noted that such education must be broadly anchored and identify anti-Semitism as the dominant ideology within National Socialism. In their conclusions they noted that while Holocaust education is an obligatory part of school curricula in some countries, in others Jewish pupils are subjected to threats. They also asserted that Holocaust education must establish links to various communities of remembrance since, while the Jews were the primary victims, others suffered too. However, and importantly, they pointed out that historical education is not sufficient in itself: education must focus on current phenomena, and in particular educators must confront anti- Semitism that comes from sections of the Muslim community and anti-Semitic forms of criticism of Israel.

The organizers hope that their decisions will provide a basis for OSCE initiatives in teaching against anti-Semitism and for tolerance.18

Diplomatic negotiations before the Conference itself focused on the desire of the U.S. and German governments, together with the Jewish NGOs, to produce a declaration that would recognize the singularity of anti-Semitism among other forms of racism, point to the origin of much of the current problems, and initiate practical countermeasures. This almost proved a stumbling block, and negotiations and rewrites were carried on over a period of several months with the Jewish NGOs hoping to persuade the U.S. State Department and German Foreign Ministry of the importance of a declaration that reflected the new realities.

The resultant declaration states “unambiguously that international developments or political issues, including those in Israel or elsewhere in the Middle East, never justify anti-Semitism.”19While not as strong as some would have wished, it nevertheless broke the logjam in pointing to the source of much current anti-Semitism. The Berlin Declaration also committed participating states to collect and maintain reliable information and statistics about anti-Semitic and other hate crimes, and to work with the Parliamentary Assembly to determine appropriate means of periodic review of the problem of anti-Semitism. It tasked the ODIHR to work on systematically collecting and disseminating information, identifying best means for preventing and responding to anti-Semitism and, if requested, to offer advice to participating states in their efforts to fight it.20

The decision has still to be endorsed by the Ministerial Conference in December 2004, but it marks a significant step forward in identifying the problem and devising a program to counter it. Notably, on 21 June in a speech at UN headquarters, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan publicly called on UN member states to endorse the Berlin Declaration and specifically cited the paragraph about political events never justifying anti-Semitism.21


The Paris Cyberhate Conference

Likewise, a French-sponsored OSCE meeting on cyberhate held in Paris in June agreed on practical initiatives and in particular on identifying ways to address anti-Semitic propaganda on the Internet that do not endanger freedom of information and expression. It had been thought that the differing European and American approaches to combating cyberhate might prove a stumbling block, and indeed there was some press criticism that the Europeans had failed to convince the Americans to overcome the restrictions of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but also a recognition that there might be other ways of dealing with the problem. A questionnaire circulated among OSCE states seeking information on Internet usage and laws to combat cyberhate had only been returned by under half the states and showed that much more research was needed.

The resultant declaration, therefore, noted that participants had agreed to jointly identify effective approaches to defeating racist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic propaganda on the Internet that do not endanger freedom of expression, but also that an appropriate followup should be considered at the next Ministerial Meeting of the OSCE.22


The Way Forward

Given that the Jewish NGOs and community representatives have demonstrated to their governments and the international bodies that much of the “new” anti-Semitism comes increasingly from Muslims, as a spillover of Middle East violence or a result of Arab states’ propaganda beamed to Europe, what prospects are there for these states and organizations to deal with it effectively?

The size and demographics of Jewish communities, compared to Muslim communities, ensure that Jews will have a declining political say. Muslims increasingly outnumber Jews throughout Western Europe, and in some countries are starting to show a political cohesion that propels them toward voting as a religious bloc.

Church responsibility for anti-Semitism in Europe, at least in its western and southern parts though not in the central and southeastern areas, is declining and the Catholic Church at least has acknowledged its complicity in anti-Semitism and moved toward reconciliation. Other churches have yet to take the same step but in northern and northwestern Europe, and particularly in Germany, they have embarked on the process.

American and German support for highlighting and combating anti-Semitism as a threat not only to Jewish communities, but to democracy as a whole, are seen by the Jewish NGOs as vital. Without these countries’ continued encouragement, European institutions would not have begun the process of self-examination and criticism.

So far, though, that process has been confined to good intentions and declarations by elected and official elites. How does this get translated to the street level? Can the many official communiqués start to make a difference?

Clearly, the implementation process will be a long one. Persuading states, some of whose law enforcement agencies have been used to police and suppress their populations, to change and begin to protect citizens requires a climate change. Sensitizing them to recognize anti- Semitism for what it is, and then record and monitor anti-Semitic violence according to internationally accepted standards, requires much training. Educating children, and their parents, toward tolerance of Jews and other minorities, when some of their governments barely acknowledge their complicity in the Holocaust, will be an equally long and difficult task.

What the Jewish NGOs can, however, bring to this implementation process is a “qualitative” approach that must counterbalance their lack of voting strength. For fifty years Jewish NGOs have pioneered tolerance teaching, particularly among law enforcement agencies. Close, working cooperation between Jewish communities’ defense agencies and their respective national law enforcement agencies have led to mutual benefit and to understanding Jewish fears and concerns, as well as sensitizing the police to react swiftly and more effectively. Police forces have learned that attacks on Jewish communities do not end with the Jews.

Jewish educational bodies have pioneered antiracist and Holocaust teaching, and have themselves funded museums and institutes that promote these initiatives. Likewise, Jewish communities have pioneered interfaith discussions not only between themselves and Christians but also among the three Abrahamic faiths. The Bendorf dialogue between Jews and Christians, now extended to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, the International Council of Christians and Jews, the Jewish-Catholic dialogue in Rome, Britain’s Holocaust Education Trust, the Anti-Defamation League’s teaching of tolerance programs for law enforcement agencies, and others are exemplary endeavors in the process of defeating anti-Semitism in Europe.

The European institutions, foremost among them the OSCE, the European Commission , and the CoE, should embrace Jewish expertise, not just to defeat anti-Semitism but also to defend and promote democracy in Europe.

*     *     *



1 Charter of Paris for a New Europe, Heads of State, 19-21 November 1990, Paris, p. 7.

2. Tolerance and Non-Discrimination, Decision No. 6,OSCE Ministerial Council, 7 December 2002, Porto.

3. Recommendations of the Seminar on Human Rights and Anti-Semitism, Convened by the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, 19-20 June 2003, Vienna.

4. “OSCE Participating States Ready and Willing to ‘Take Up the Gauntlet’ and Fight Anti-Semitism,” Press Release, Chairman in Office, 19 June 2003, Vienna.

5. Address by Senator Robert Badinter, former minister of justice, former president of the Constitutional Council, OSCE Meeting on Anti-Semitism, 19 June 2003, Vienna.

6. Irwin Cotler, MP, “The Role of the Media in Conveying and Countering Prejudice,” Session 4, Information and Awareness Raising, OSCE Meeting on Anti-Semitism, 20 June 2003, Vienna.

7. Resolution on Combating Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century, Rotterdam Declaration of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and Resolutions Adopted during the Twelfth Annual Session, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, 5-9 July 2003, Rotterdam.

8. Amendments to the Supplementary Item on Combating Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, 5-9 July 2003, Rotterdam.

9. Letter of Intent; Action Programme: Confronting and Combating Anti- Semitism in the OSCE Region, 10 December 2002; Statement of Solidarity, submitted by Gert Weisskirchen MdB, Christopher H. Smith MC, July 2003, Rotterdam.

10. Recommendations OSCE HDIM 2003, Working Session 13 on Prevention of Discrimination, Racism, Xenophobia and Anti-Semitism, submitted by American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), Consultative Council of Jewish Organizations, European Jewish Congress, Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, Magenta Foundation, NCSJ Advocates on Behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Eurasia, Tolerance Foundation of Moscow, 15 October 2003.

11. “Incendiary Poll,” press release, EJC, 3 November 2003, Paris.

12. Report on Anti-Semitism: Commissioned but not published, press release, EJC, 1 December 2003, Paris.

13. Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the EU 2002-2003, European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, Vienna, p. 319, 31 March 2004.

14. Cobi Benato. and Israel Singer, “Europe’s Moral Treachery over anti-Semitism,” Financial Times, 5 January 2004.

15. “Europe against anti-Semitism for a Union of Diversity,” joint seminar of the EJC, European Commission, Conference of European Rabbis, 19 February 2004, Brussels.

16. Draft text of ECRI General Policy Recommendation No. 9 on the fight against anti-Semitism, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, 22 March 2004, Strasbourg.

17. Written Declaration on Anti-Semitism, European Parliament (DC\ 529686EN.doc), 29 March 2004.

18. “Results of the European Workshop: Education on anti-Semitism,” American Jewish Committee Task Force on Education on anti-Semitism, 18-20 April 2004, Berlin.

19. Berlin Declaration, OSCE Conference on Anti-Semitism, Berlin, 28-29 April 2004 (PC.DEL/696/04).

20. Ibid.

21. “Jews Everywhere Must Feel that the United Nations Is Their Home Too,” speech by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, 21 June 2004 ( News/Press/docs/2004/hr4773.doc.htm).

22. Conclusions by the Chair of the OSCE Meeting on the Relationship between Racist, Xenophobic and anti-Semitic Propaganda on the Internet and Hate Crimes, OSCE, 16-17 June 2004, Paris (PC.DEL/514/04).

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MICHAEL WHINE is communications director of the Community Security Trust and director of the Defence and Group Relations Division of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He is a consultant to the European Jewish Congress and has represented it at the OSCE. He writes regularly on anti-Semitism, extremist politics, and terrorism and contributes the United Kingdom chapter for the following annual publications: Extrême Droite et National-Populisme en Europe de l’Ouest (Centre de Recherche et d’Information Socio-Politiques, Brussels), Anti-Semitism World Report (Institute for Jewish Policy Research, London), and Anti-Semitism Worldwide (Tel Aviv University).