Combating anti-Semitism in Europe
- Parliamentary Assembly
- Assembly debate on 27 June 2007 (24th Sitting) (see Doc. 11292, report of the Political Affairs Committee, rapporteur: Mr Margelov; and Doc. 11320, opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, rapporteur: Mrs Wohlwend). Text adopted by the Assembly on 27 June 2007 (24th Sitting).
1. The Parliamentary Assembly remains deeply concerned about the persistence and escalation of anti-Semitic phenomena and notes that no member state is shielded from, or immune to, this fundamental affront to human rights.
2. Such phenomena, which are a cause of fear for personal safety and a sign of lack of respect for the faith of Jewish citizens are unacceptable in Council of Europe member states.
3. Far from having been eliminated, anti-Semitism is today on the rise in Europe. It appears in a variety of forms and is becoming relatively commonplace, to varying degrees, in all Council of Europe member states. This upsurge should prompt Council of Europe member states to be more vigilant and tackle the threat which anti-Semitism represents for the fundamental values which it is the Council of Europe’s role to defend.
4. Anti-Semitism, conveyed frequently – but not exclusively – by extreme-right movements, Islamist ideologists and extreme-left political factions, is reflected in hostility towards the Jews, their religion, their culture or their collective identity. Such hostility, which may extend to overt hatred, is expressed through behaviour and actions of varying types: desecration of religious sites, vandalism, publications, insults, threats, aggression or even murder.
5. The Assembly regrets that the Middle East conflict has had an impact on the growth of anti-Semitism in Europe. Although it is not the sole cause, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to fuel anti-Semitic violence in Europe. This is especially the case among many immigrants in European cities. This new form of anti-Semitism is the cause of angry reactions among the majority of the population and will provoke hatred against immigrants in general, thereby inducing xenophobia.
6. Anti-Semitism represents a danger for all democratic states as it serves as a pretext for the use of and justification for violence. It splits the national community by placing one category of individuals against another and one religion against another. It constitutes a serious violation of both fundamental rights and freedoms and the principles of democracy. The political and civil authorities therefore have a duty to do all they can to halt this growing threat.
7. The Assembly is aware that the fight against anti-Semitism presents democracies with a dilemma, as they must on the one hand guarantee freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association and allow for the existence and political representation of the full spectrum of political views and on the other, defend and protect themselves against a phenomenon which undermines their core values.
The Assembly, referring to Recommendation 1222 (1993)
on the fight against racism, xenophobia and intolerance and Resolution 1345 (2003)
on racist, xenophobic and intolerant discourse in politics, is convinced that states must combat any trivialisation of anti-Semitism and take resolute action against its manifestations by applying or, where such do not exist, adopting all necessary political and legislative measures to preserve the rule of law based on respect for democratic principles and human rights.
9. The Assembly also notes that civil society, with its grass roots experience, is often the first to become aware of the rise of phenomena such as anti-Semitism, and therefore has an important role to play in mobilising the public response to it.
The Assembly considers that the principles enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5), the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in its Article 4, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in its Article 20 and in the general policy recommendations of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), in particular Recommendation No. 9
on the fight against anti-Semitism, adopted in June 2004, represent fundamental elements which should guide member states in their fight against anti-Semitism.
11. The Assembly strongly supports the work undertaken by the ECRI to encourage all relevant actors in Europe to combine their efforts in order to find an effective and lasting response to anti-Semitism, at all administrative levels (national, regional, local) and by including representatives of different communities, religious leaders, civil society organisations and other key institutions.
Accordingly, the Assembly calls on the governments of the Council of Europe member states to:
12.1 vigorously and systematically enforce legislation criminalising anti-Semitic and other hate speech, in particular any incitement to violence;
12.2 prosecute any political party which puts forward anti-Semitic arguments in its activities, manifestos or publications;
make a criminal offence the public denial, trivialisation, justification or praise, with racist intentions, of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes in accordance with ECRI General Policy Recommendation No. 7
on national legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination, adopted in December 2002;
12.4 suspend or withdraw public financing, domestically and internationally, for organisations and associations promoting anti-Semitism;
12.5 reinforce their legislation to punish anti-Semitic acts and ensure that any anti-Semitic motivation constitutes an aggravating factor in criminal cases;
12.6 sign and ratify Protocol No. 12 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ETS No. 177);
intensify teaching of the history and culture of the main religions in schools, in accordance with Recommendation 1720 (2005)
on education and religion, in order to promote tolerance and to combat ignorance which is so often the source of intolerance; education and training are among the most basic and lasting ways of guarding against anti-Semitism;
12.8 ensure that anti-Semitism and attacks on Jews do not take place in any educational institutions, especially universities;
12.9 promote intercultural and inter-faith dialogue between different communities;
12.10 acquire the means of suppressing anti-Semitic statements on the Internet and therefore sign and ratify the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime, concerning criminalisation of acts of a racist or xenophobic nature committed through computer systems (ETS No. 189);
12.11 not endorse the construction of monuments and the holding of ceremonies celebrating those guilty of genocide or crimes against humanity during the Second World War;
12.12 take resolute action against any anti-Semitic act in sport in accordance with Recommendation Rec(2001)6 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the prevention of racism, xenophobia and racial intolerance in sport;
12.13 encourage the media to exercise self-discipline, to promote tolerance and mutual respect and to counter anti-Semitic stereotypes and prejudices which have entered everyday speech;
12.14 strengthen media self-control mechanisms aimed at preventing anti-Semitism and other forms of hate speech;
12.15 continue the implementation of Recommendation Rec(2001)15 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on history teaching in twenty-first-century Europe, in preparing and organising a “Holocaust memorial and prevention of crimes against humanity day” in their schools, in order to contribute to global action for the promotion of tolerance, human rights and the fight against all forms of racism;
12.16 make use of the ECRI to alert the public authorities to anti-Semitic activities;
12.17 co-operate more actively with civil society and non-governmental organisations and support them in the fight against anti-Semitism;
12.18 support the activities of the ECRI, whose role is to combat racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance throughout Europe and to ensure that member states give practical follow-up to its recommendations;
12.19 actively and vigorously condemn all states sponsoring anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and incitement to genocide.