B Explanatory memorandum
by Mr Boriss Cilevičs, rapporteur
1 The appalling recent attacks
which took place successively in Toulouse, Brussels, Paris and Copenhagen
show us that antisemitism is not merely history or a theoretical
threat. It finds its origin in ancient but, unfortunately, tenacious
prejudice and leads to violent acts.
2 These traumatising events have affected people of Jewish as
well as other faiths. The antisemitic terrorist attacks in the Kosher
supermarket in Paris in January 2015 and in the Jewish Museum in
Brussels in May 2014 rightfully received a lot of media attention.
They triggered a shock wave in Europe and called on us to reflect
and react. These attacks are not isolated events, however, and need
to be considered in a wider context of rising manifestations of
hatred and intolerance in Europe.
We would have hoped that the horrors of the Holocaust would
have brought antisemitism to an end. On the contrary, antisemitic
statements, the presentation of conspiracy theories, justification
or even glorification of the Holocaust are not only still encountered
today but are on the rise in several European countries.Note
4 Antisemitic statements can be easily shared and spread in
the media, including social media. Higher visibility is given to
antisemitic incidents, but it is not necessarily reflected in an
increase in the number of complaints made to the police.
5 Debates on the existence of a rise in antisemitism should
not make us forget that the main issue is that in fact antisemitism
still exists today. Actions have been taken by Council of Europe
member States to prevent and combat antisemitism, but we should
analyse how effective they are and if there have been difficulties
with implementation of anti-discrimination legislation in general.
6 In order to combat antisemitism effectively, we need to look
into the preconditions for violence, as well as its roots and analyse
the current manifestations of prejudice against Jewish people. There
are discussions over what is called a modern antisemitism versus
an old antisemitism. According to studies, old prejudices remain
and the manifestations of antisemitism today are not at all related
only to anti-Zionism. The persistence and growth of ancient prejudice,
strengthened by instrumentalisation of anti-Zionist rhetoric, lay
the ground for hatred, violence and discrimination.
The Parliamentary Assembly has noted a worrying rise in manifestations
of racism, xenophobia and intolerance in Europe for some years.
In this context, the Assembly has relentlessly condemned antisemitism, most
recently in its Resolution
on recognising and preventing neo-racism, Resolution 2011 (2014)
on counteraction to manifestations of neo-Nazism and
right-wing extremism and Resolution
on a strategy to prevent racism and intolerance in Europe.
8 The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)
adopted its General Policy Recommendation on the fight against antisemitism
on 25 June 2004 and monitors its implementation during its country
visits. This report gives us an opportunity to reaffirm the Assembly’s
support for this text and to call for its implementation at national
9 Manifestations of antisemitism are also recorded in Council
of Europe observer States and in States where the parliament has
the status of partner for democracy. This issue is not formally
within the scope of this report but, in my view, deserves serious
consideration, in particular, in the context of dialogue with these States.
2 Aims of the report and methodology
The motion at the origin of
this report recalls Assembly Resolution
on combating anti-Semitism in Europe and asks for an
evaluation of its implementation. I have therefore looked into the
actions taken by member States and have sought to promote best practices
in preventing and combating antisemitism. A part of my work has
also consisted in formulating recommendations on the basis of this
evaluation and analysing the overall context of a growth of manifestations
of antisemitism in Europe in the past years.
In the framework of the preparation of my report, I have sent
a questionnaire to the parliaments of the Council of Europe member
and observer States via the European Centre for Parliamentary Research
and Documentation (ECPRD). I have received replies from 31Note
of Council of Europe member States and from twoNote
of observer States. I would like to thank them for their co-operation
and for the information provided.
12 The First Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights in the European
Union was held on 1 and 2 October 2015 in Brussels on the theme
“Tolerance and respect: preventing and combating antisemitic and
anti-Muslim hatred in Europe”. I have reviewed with interest contributions
to the Colloquium and followed its conclusions.
13 On 2 December 2015 in Paris, the Committee on Equality and
Non-Discrimination held a hearing with the participation of Dr Henri
Nickels, Head of the Equality Sector at the Fundamental Rights Agency
of the European Union (FRA), Ms Cristina M. Finch, Head of the Tolerance
and Non-Discrimination Department at the Office for Democratic Institutions
and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Co-operation
in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR), and Mr Vincent Tiberj, associate professor
at the Institute of Political Science of Bordeaux. On 26 January
2016, the committee held a hearing on the work of ECRI on combating
hate speech with Mr Mirosław Wyrzykowski, member of ECRI in respect
of Poland, and Mr Michael Whine, expert on antisemitism and also
a member of ECRI in respect of the United Kingdom. I would like
to thank the guest speakers for their participation in these exchanges
with the members of the committee and for their valuable contributions
to the preparation of this report.
for violence and manifestations of antisemitism
weight of prejudice
14 In order to prevent and combat
violence, we have to combat stereotyping and prejudice actively
and fiercely. We need to understand and reflect on what can feed
prejudice and why antisemitic hate speech has gained such a wide
Antisemitism often finds its foundation in the idea that Jews
are the elite and have too much power. Vincent Tiberj told the Committee
on Equality and Non-Discrimination that one third of French people
answered to a survey that Jews had too much power. 75% of the French
people surveyed also thought that Jews had a “special relationship
with money”. He nevertheless stressed that Jews were one of the
most accepted communities in France (80% to 90% of respondents answered
that Jews were “like the other French people”)Note
French people with a migrant background did not display more antisemitism
than others. I mention here a study about France but would like
to stress that the stereotypes regarding the economic, media and political
power of Jewish people are present throughout Council of Europe
member States. The so-called “old antisemitism” is still alive and
16 Vincent Tiberj also stressed during our hearing that a person
with an antisemitic attitude was also often Islamophobic and prejudiced
against women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)
people. According to surveys he had conducted, practising Catholics
were a bit more antisemitic than the rest of the population. He
also found that the new antisemitism which would be linked to Islam
only represented a small part of antisemitism today.
According to the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European
of antisemitic acts often link the actions of the State of Israel
to local Jewish communities and hold them responsible. There are
peaks in recorded incidents whenever events occur in the Middle
East, which also affects the feeling of security.Note
is at times presented as a ground for violent action for young people
returning to Europe from Iraq and Syria.
18 Antisemitism also finds its origin in ignorance about the
Holocaust and about the importance of respecting and protecting
human rights and human dignity. Ignorance fuels intolerance and
can lead to violence.
growing feeling of insecurity
There are growing concerns
and feelings of fear among Jewish communities. One example is the
fear of identifying oneself as a Jew, which changes one’s everyday
life. Maurice Sosnowski, Chairperson of the Coordination Committee
of Jewish Organizations in Belgium, told the No Hate Parliamentary
Alliance that antisemitism no longer had any limits and that the
Jewish community was living in fear. He regretted that Europe was
in denial with regard to the rise of antisemitism.Note
political statements clearly rejecting expressions of antisemitism
are needed in order to reassure the Jewish communities.
Manifestations of antisemitism are diverse and range from
remarks when walking down the street to hate crime. “In some countries
such as France, Belgium and Sweden, it has become very difficult
and intimidating to be a Jew, which is a shock to the community”,
said Jane Braden Golay, former President of the European Union of
In some demonstrations in France, we can
hear or read “Mort aux Juifs” (Death to the Jews) on banners.Note
on synagogues, cemeteries and artwork have been disturbing the serenity of
the population for a long time. They aim to shock and destabilise
the Jewish community living in a given municipality and beyond.
Attacks on people wearing visible religious symbols may lead to
fear of being identified according to his or her religion. Following
the attack on a Jewish professor in Marseilles on 11 January 2016,
a Jewish organisation recommended not wearing a kippa in public.Note
I am strongly
convinced that no one should feel forced to hide his or her religious
identity and refrain from wearing visible religious symbols, unless
foreseen by law under specific conditions.
21 Following the Paris attacks, and the Toulouse attack which
targeted specifically a Jewish school, the French authorities decided
to protect synagogues and Jewish schools and kindergartens with
the presence of the military. Considering the realistic threat of
more terrorist attacks, military or armed police now also guard Jewish
schools at certain times in several other Council of Europe member
States including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the United
Kingdom. This military presence affects the way children perceive
themselves among the rest of the population, how they interact with
others and how they feel when going to school.
Media regularly report on the departure of Jews to Israel
and contribute to creating and propagating a climate of fear among
the Jewish communities. In 2015, 8 000 Jews left France to settle
in Israel according to the Israeli Ministry of Immigration, which
indicates that their departure was mostly motivated by insecurity.Note
In Turkey, there is a growing fear of antisemitic attacks
and reports of rising antisemitic speech, notably in the social
24 I would also like to mention silent discrimination and prejudice.
The way a person may look at another person, someone turning his
or her head when someone of another faith crosses their path, looking
in the other direction or not reacting to an insult or an attack
are all silent acts which can have an impact and contribute to a
climate of intolerance. We need to pay increased attention to the
indifference to intolerance, which can lead to discrimination and
data on antisemitism
This report represents an opportunity
to share information on facts. News about antisemitic actions makes
the headlines of newspapers, but to date there is limited statistical
data. “Reports of anti-Semitic incidents are based on differing
data and rely heavily on subjective testimony”,Note
can present challenges for data collection. FRA’s latest annual
overview of data available on antisemitism in the European Union shows
that 20 member States record data on antisemitic incidents.Note
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
also collects information on hate crime from participating States,
international governmental organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).Note
2014, nine OSCE participating States reported antisemitic crimes
recorded by the police (1 883 incidents were reported, including
321 violent acts on persons). According to Cristina Finch, the lack
of data and the under-reporting of incidents made it difficult to
draw conclusions on trends.Note
She underlined that
there was no doubt that antisemitism existed, but it was impossible
to compare data between States, or even within States.
27 Official data do not indicate the prevalence of antisemitism
in a given State since it is based only on the number of incidents
reported to the authorities, including the police. Population surveys,
such as the one made by FRA, bring crucial information and give
an idea of the perception of antisemitism and the feelings of Jewish people
in a given country. 23% of the respondents to the FRA survey answered
that they had felt discriminated against on the ground of their
religion or ethnic background in the year preceding the survey (survey
carried out in September and October 2012). This survey also mentioned
that out of the 5 847 people who participated in the eight selected
countries, two thirds considered that antisemitism was a problem
and about half of them worried about being harassed or insulted
in a public place.
The replies sent by the parliaments to the questionnaire provided
information on data collected by the police and other bodies.Note
In the countries
where there were antisemitic incidents in the past years, an increase in
the number of incidents can be noted in general. In Belgium, the
equality body received 83 complaints for antisemitic incidents in
2013 and 130 in 2014.Note
antisemitic incidents were reported to the Jewish Community Safety
Organisation in Denmark in 2014 and 40 in 2012. In Germany, the
police recorded 1 596 “crimes with an antisemitic motive” in 2014
compared to 1 275 in 2013. In Poland, there were 207 antisemitic incidents
recorded in 2014 and 93 in 2012. In Spain, three antisemitic incidents
were reported in 2013 and 24 in 2014. In Sweden, there were 267
police reports with an identified antisemitic motive in 2014 and
161 in 2010. In Canada, 165 hate crimes targeting Jewish populations
were recorded in 2008 and 181 in 2013.
However, we note a decrease in some member States even if
figures remain very high. In France, the Jewish Community Protection
Service (SPCJ) and the Ministry of the Interior recorded 806 antisemitic
acts in 2015, a 14% decrease compared to 2014.Note
the United Kingdom, the Community Security Trust recorded 924 antisemitic
incidents in 2015, a fall of 22%.Note
30 No antisemitic incidents were reported between 2007 and 2014
in Cyprus, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Montenegro.
Data on antisemitic incidents is not collected by the police or
any other body in Albania, Estonia, Georgia, Iceland, Lithuania,
Serbia, the Slovak Republic (the police only keeps a summary on
criminal offences of extremism and criminal offences with a racial
motivation), Slovenia and Turkey.
31 These figures need to be considered with precaution since
there is in general a low level of victim reporting and a lack of
trust in law enforcement. Results of the FRA survey indicated that
76% of respondents who had experienced antisemitic harassment in
the past five years did not report the most serious incident to the
police or to any other organisation.
32 In order to prevent under-reporting, which is frequent with
regard to cases of antisemitism, the level of trust in the national
authorities must be increased. It is therefore important to develop
programmes and provide training on combating discrimination, for
example on the model of ODIHR’s capacity-building programmes for law-enforcement
officers and prosecutors on hate crimes.
33 Data collection and publication is crucial to prevent and
combat antisemitism efficiently. When comparing data sent by the
national parliaments, police reports and information provided by
international organisations, I realised that efforts needed to be
stepped up with regard to the improvement of the collection and
co-ordination of data related to hate crimes. Once data is collected,
the police should classify the complaints in its data collection
system according to religious and ethnic motives so as to have a
clear picture of the number of antisemitic incidents. The number
of complaints with indication of their motive should also be published,
which would contribute to awareness-raising on this phenomenon.
Co-operation between the police, the judiciary, educators and civil
society organisations should be encouraged in support of victims,
and data collection and prevention activities should be implemented
evaluation of the implementation of Resolution 1563 (2007)
In order to carry out an evaluation
of the implementation of Resolution
, I have grouped the 19 points of the resolution in six
on combating antisemitism in the Council of Europe member States
(points 12.1, 12.5 and 12.6)
35 Antisemitism can be listed
as a specific ground for hate speech, among others, in national
legislation. It can also not be explicitly mentioned but criminalised
as hate speech on the ground of religious beliefs. I am of the opinion
that general and inclusive legislation is preferable provided its
application is ensured.
36 Hate speech in general is often a specific criminal offence
in the criminal code (for example in Austria, Denmark, Germany,
“the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Lithuania, the Netherlands,
Norway, Poland, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain,
Switzerland and the United Kingdom).
37 Antisemitism can also be singled out in anti-discrimination
legislation (for example in Cyprus, France and Montenegro) or clearly
stated as unconstitutional. In particular, in Slovenia, any incitement
to national, racial, religious or other discrimination and the inflaming
of national, racial, religious or other hatred and intolerance is
38 Sanctions foreseen vary from one country to another, from
a fine to several years of imprisonment. Incitement to hatred or
discord on the grounds of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation
is punishable with a prison sentence of between two and ten years
in Albania. Imprisonment or a fine are also foreseen in Iceland,
the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Serbia, the Slovak Republic, Switzerland
and the United Kingdom, among others.
39 In Finland, speech threatening or insulting someone on the
basis of race, skin colour, birth status, national or ethnic origin,
religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability is considered
“ethnic agitation” and sentenced as such with a fine or imprisonment
for up to two years. The concept of “racial agitation” is also central
in the Swedish legislation against racism and xenophobia. It is
prohibited to disseminate statements expressing threats or contempt
towards a national, ethnic or other group with allusion to race,
colour, religion outside the strictly private sphere. The penalty
foreseen is imprisonment for a maximum of two years.
40 In Montenegro, a fine of between €500 and €20 000 shall be
imposed on a legal person for hate speech against a person or a
group of persons on the grounds of, inter
alia, their personal characteristics, xenophobia, racial
hatred or antisemitism. A person inciting violence or hatred towards
a group or a member of a group defined on the basis of colour or
religion, among others, shall be punished with imprisonment from
six months to five years.
41 There is no legislation criminalising hate speech in Estonia,
except when hate speech results in danger to the life, health or
property of a person, or causes the death of a person.
At European level, the European Court of Human Rights either
excludes statements inciting hatred from the protection of the European
Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5, “the Convention”) on the
basis of Article 17 (prohibition of abuse of rights) or sets restrictions
on the protection (Article 10) in order to protect the rights and
freedoms of others, among other reasons. The Court has clearly ruled
that Article 10 of the Convention (freedom of expression) does not
protect authors of antisemitic hate speech.Note
In its Resolution
, the Assembly called on governments of member States
to sign and ratify Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on
Human Rights (ETS No. 177), which provides for a general prohibition
of discrimination. On 12 February 2016, 19 member States had ratified
the protocol, and 19 had signed but not yet ratified it.
At our hearing on 26 January 2016, Michael Whine, ECRI member
for the United Kingdom, explained how hate speech resulted in the
horrors of the Holocaust. He stressed that hate speech undermined
the rule of law and democracy and emphasised the importance of having
strong legislative tools to combat it. An essential recommendation
would therefore be to ensure that the legislative framework on combating discrimination
on any ground and hate speech is comprehensive and consistently
and persistently implemented.Note
in the ECRI General Policy Recommendation on the fight against antisemitism, member
States should ensure that criminal law in the field of combating
racism covers a wide range of manifestations of antisemitism, such
as public incitement to violence, hatred or discrimination, public
insults, threats, desecration and profanation of Jewish property
and monuments, among others.
and prosecution of antisemitism (points 12.2, 12.3, 12.4 and 12.19)
and prosecution of public figures and political parties
The prosecution of public figures
and political parties for antisemitic statements are clear indicators
of a State’s firm commitment to combating antisemitic hate speech.
In its General Policy Recommendation on the fight against antisemitism,
ECRI recommends including in national legislation an obligation
to suppress public financing of organisations that promote antisemitism,
including political parties and the possibility for disbanding organisations
that promote antisemitism. In its Resolution 1563 (2007)
, the Assembly calls on governments of the Council of
Europe member States to prosecute any political party which puts
forward antisemitic arguments in its activities, manifestos or publications.
To date, few political figures have been condemned for antisemitic
In France, Jean-Marie Le Pen, former President of the National
Front, was condemned several times for speeches minimising the Shoah.
He called it a “detail of history”. I would also like to mention
the case of Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, a French actor, who was condemned
in March 2015 to pay a fine of €22 500 for antisemitic speech during
his show. He was also condemned to pay a €10 000 fine for inviting
the Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson on stage to receive a prize
(“prix de l’infréquentabilité”) from an actor dressed as a Jew who
had been in a concentration camp. On 10 November 2015, the European
Court of Human Rights stated that freedom of expression safeguards
could not apply to his case because this protection could not be offered
for comments denying the Holocaust.Note
The Court stated that this
scene could not be considered as entertainment since it looked like
a political meeting promoting Holocaust denial. Dieudonné was also condemned
on 25 November 2015 to two months of imprisonment and a fine of
€9 000 for antisemitism, incitement to hatred and hate speech and
denial of the Holocaust during a show he gave in Herstal (Belgium) on
14 March 2012.
47 In Lithuania, the Central Elections Commission (CEC) asked
the General Prosecutor’s Office to open an investigation with regard
to hatred in campaign material of the party Lithuanian Nationalist
Union (caricature of a Jew and text referring to the decision of
the government to compensate the Jewish community for expropriated
property) in 2012. Before the local elections of 2015, the CEC again
asked the prosecutors to investigate possible antisemitic content
in the leaflet of the electoral alliance “Against corruption”. According
to the information received, these cases were not pursued.
48 The Polish Constitution clearly prohibits political parties
and other organisations promoting racial or national hatred (Article
13). In the United Kingdom, one member of parliament, George Galloway,
was interviewed by police in August 2014 after declaring his constituency
an “Israel-free zone”. He was not prosecuted.
denial, justification or praise of crimes of genocide and crimes
49 Antisemitism can be expressed
via a public denial, justification or praise of crimes of genocide
and crimes against humanity. The trivialisation of the crime of
genocide is probably one of the most difficult issues since it triggers
a discussion on limitations to freedom of speech.
The European Court of Human Rights unequivocally stated that
the negation or revision of clearly established historical facts
such as the Holocaust are not protected by Article 10 (freedom of
expression) by virtue of Article 17 (prohibition of abuse of rights)
of the Convention.Note
would also like to mention the decision Garaudy
the application inadmissible, the Court stated that “denying crimes
against humanity is one of the most serious forms of racial defamation
of Jews and of incitement to hatred of them. The denial or rewriting
of this type of historical fact undermines the values on which the
fight against racism and antisemitism are based and constitutes
a serious threat to public order”.
In its Resolution
, the Assembly had called on member States to make a
criminal offence the public denial, trivialisation, justification
or praise, with racist intentions, of crimes of genocide, crimes against
humanity or war crimes. A wide range of European States took action
to criminalise it. In France, it is sanctioned with one year of
imprisonment and a fine of €45 000. In Latvia, the glorification,
denial, acquittal or gross trivialisation of committed genocide
is condemned with up to five years’ imprisonment, community service
or a fine. A public call for genocide is punishable with a sentence
of up to eight years.
52 In Croatia, imprisonment for up to three years is foreseen.
In Poland, incitement to commit an act aiming to destroy in full
or in part any ethnic, racial, political or religious group, or
a group with a different perspective on life, or public praise of
the commission of such acts, shall be subject to the restriction
of liberty from three months to five years. In Romania, the public
denial, challenging, approval, justification of or obviously minimising
the Holocaust or its effect is punished with imprisonment from six
months to three years, or with a fine.
53 In Slovenia, a person who publicly disseminates ideas on the
supremacy of one race over another, provides aid in any manner for
racist activity or denies, diminishes the significance of, approves,
disregards, makes fun of, or advocates genocide, holocaust, crimes
against humanity, war crimes, aggression or other criminal offences
against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment of up to two
years. In Switzerland, the public denial, justification or praise
of crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity is a criminal
offence and criminalised. Any person who denies, trivialises or
seeks justification for genocide or other crimes against humanity
is liable to a custodial sentence of up to three years or a fine.
In Canada, the advocacy or promotion of genocide is an offence liable
to imprisonment for up to five years. In Israel, a law criminalising
Holocaust denial was adopted by the Knesset on 8 July 1986.
54 In the Netherlands, a draft law criminalising the public denial
of genocide was prepared in 2006 but is still pending. In Denmark,
it is not a criminal offence per se but can be considered as such
if the requirements set forth in article 266b of the Criminal Code
are met. In Norway, it is also not a criminal offence per se, but
can be punishable if it constitutes a public incitement to commit
a criminal offence. Such statements can also qualify as criminal
55 The public denial, justification or praise of crimes of genocide
and crimes against humanity are not criminal offences in Estonia
and Sweden. They are also not criminal offences in the United Kingdom,
but there have been several cases where they have been successfully
prosecuted when they constituted incitement to racial hatred.
56 In order to send a strong signal to potential perpetrators
and to prevent an escalation of violent antisemitic hate speech,
I believe that the public denial, justification or praise of crimes
of genocide and crimes against humanity should be made a criminal
offence when it is not yet the case.
motivation as an aggravating factor in criminal cases
57 Antisemitic motivation can
be an aggravating factor in criminal cases. If antisemitism is not
mentioned specifically as a motivation which could be considered
an aggravating factor, it can fall under discrimination on the grounds
of religion. For example, in France, antisemitic motivation as well
as any racist or religious motivation is an aggravating factor.
It is also the case in Switzerland.
58 Racial and/or xenophobic motivation is considered an aggravating
factor in criminal cases in Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania and
59 If the offence is committed for a motive based on race, national
or ethnic origin, religion or belief, it is considered an aggravating
factor in Finland, Latvia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In the
Netherlands, when an individual is prosecuted for an offence which
also involves discrimination, the Public Prosecution Office considers
the discriminatory aspect to be an aggravating factor.
60 However, antisemitic motivation is not an aggravating factor
in Albania and Estonia.
61 With this report, I would also like to call on member States
who have not yet done so to make a motive based on race, national
or ethnic origin, religion or belief an aggravating factor in a
action and protection (points 12.8, 12.9, 12.10, 12.11 and 12.12)
62 Since 2007, several preventive
action measures and awareness-raising campaigns have been launched in
Council of Europe member States to fight against antisemitism. In
Denmark, the city of Copenhagen has launched several awareness-raising
campaigns, including one called “stemplet” (stigmatised) on combating hate
crime and discrimination with the creation of an application for
smartphone where people are encouraged to report discriminatory
incidents. The city of Copenhagen launched another campaign in 2009
under the title “Antisemitism and Islamophobia – not in our town”.
63 In 2008, the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland
launched the campaign “I am Polish”, with posters showing smiling
young people representing national and ethnic minorities. I also
received information with regard to initiatives by the Polish Film
Institute which supports cinematographic work about Polish-Jewish
history which, in turn, triggers public debates on diversity, assimilation
and antisemitism. The organisation “Hejt Stop” collects information
about manifestations of antisemitic speech, both on the Internet and
in public areas (bus stops, schools, places of worship, etc.) and
works with its volunteers on erasing them.
64 In Lithuania, the Seimas declared 2011 as the year of Remembrance
for the victims of the Holocaust and adopted a law on goodwill compensation
for the immovable property confiscated from the Jewish religious communities.
Commemorative events were organised by municipalities, State institutions
and ministries. The Lithuanian Jewish Community had a campaign from
January 2014 to June 2015 called “Bagel shop: tolerance campaign
against antisemitism and public hatred”, which included monitoring
manifestations of hatred and intolerance in the public space and
a public campaign “Be different”.
65 The Swiss Federal Commission against Racism (CFR) launched
its national campaign “Colourful Switzerland” on 25 June 2015 to
raise awareness among young people on the need to combat racial discrimination
and hate speech.
66 The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions has
created a network of municipalities which share best practices in
combating hate crimes. The Living History Forum was established
in 2003 in Sweden with a view to encouraging people to strive for
an equal society by producing educational material, conducting surveys
on attitudes in society, organising exhibitions and is still very
active today. The Forum uses the Holocaust and other crimes against
humanity as its starting point. 27 January, which commemorates the liberation
of the Auschwitz concentration camp, has the status of a national
day of remembrance.
67 I welcome the fact that to date 43 Council of Europe member
States have established a Holocaust memorial day.
68 Encouraging dialogue between religious leaders and religious
communities is another key aspect for the prevention of antisemitism.
In the United Kingdom, the Community Security Trust and the Muslim
organisation Tell MAMA co-operate to monitor hate crimes. I would
also like to mention the work of Nisa-Nashim, which brings together
Jewish and Muslim women to develop leadership skills, the Muslim
Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester, which brings Jewish and Muslim
leaders together, and the Three Faiths Forum, which develops leadership
skills among young Jews, Muslims and Christians. In the Netherlands,
the Centrum Informatie en Documentatie Israel (CIDI) assists the
Stichting Platform Islamitische Organisaties Rijnmond (SPIOR) to monitor
anti-Muslim hatred. Such initiatives should be further encouraged.
69 I would like to stress that there will be no tangible changes
if there are no specific measures addressing youth. Investing in
education and in awareness-raising among the population should be
made a priority. Exchanges between children and young people of
different faiths should be therefore further encouraged via joint
activities, cultural programmes and sports events.
teaching and combating antisemitism (points 12.7 and 12.15)
70 Indifference and a lack of
interest of pupils and students for Holocaust remembrance and disrespect
for commemoration ceremonies are unfortunately not uncommon. Ignorance
about these tragic historical events creates fertile soil for antisemitism.
71 History teaching is a key element in the fight against antisemitism.
As stressed by Henri Nickels during our hearing, Holocaust teaching
and remembrance, which can be done through formal and non-formal education,
should not be disconnected from the fight against antisemitism.
He underlined that many people who made antisemitic statements did
not know much about the Holocaust. Education and contacts between communities
were therefore crucial for building tolerant societies. Preventing
and combating antisemitism at school is not limited to history teaching.
It also means combating bullying, teaching about diversity, organising stereotype-breaking
activities and introducing positive narratives in educational programmes.
Michael Whine, ECRI member in respect of the United Kingdom, reiterated
at our hearing the importance of keeping alive knowledge of the
past by commemorating the Holocaust and having programmes raising
awareness and understanding about what occurred.
72 Teaching on the Holocaust is a mandatory part of the school
programmes in most Council of Europe member States. As an example,
the Holocaust is the subject of formal and informal education in
Lithuania (essays, collection of material, visits and looking after
Jewish cemeteries and memorials). Some 96 “tolerance development
centres” have been created in secondary schools, regional museums
and education centres.
73 In 2014, international Holocaust Remembrance Day virtual classrooms
were organised by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the National
Film Board of Canada, with a view to presenting new approaches to teaching
about the Holocaust. This day was used to discuss what lessons to
draw with regard to the protection of human rights and democratic
values and prevention of racism and genocide.
74 The Council of Europe and other international organisations
have developed educational material on Holocaust remembrance. I
would like to mention specifically the handbook for teachers “Excursion
to the past – teaching for the future” published by FRA, which provides
tools for teachers on connecting the Holocaust and human rights
education and advice for visits to Holocaust-related sites.
75 I am convinced that Holocaust remembrance should be linked
to the fight against antisemitism. For this reason, educational
programmes should make the link between the current manifestations
of hatred and intolerance and the Holocaust. Perpetrators of antisemitic
acts should also be requested to participate in educational programmes
on the Holocaust and engage in discussions.
role of the media (points 12.13 and 12.14)
76 The role of the media is crucial
in combating antisemitism since they hold a specific responsibility
in promoting and portraying a culture of diversity. For example,
the media can contribute to increasing the visibility of religious
leaders wearing visible religious symbols. The way the media reports
on the conflict in the Middle East can have a substantial influence
on public opinion. I also see an educational role in the media,
which can contribute to increasing respect and understanding or
on the contrary exacerbate tensions with biased reporting.
There have been some changes with regard to media regulations
in member States since 2007, mostly widening the scope of application
to the Internet. Resolution
called on member States to “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)”. As at 12 February 2016,
24 Council of Europe member States had ratified it.
78 In Croatia, the 2009 Law on Electronic Media prohibits the
promotion and spreading of hatred or discrimination based on religion,
antisemitism and xenophobia, among others. In Montenegro and Serbia,
for example, the media laws prohibit hate speech.
79 In Finland, the director of Magneetti Media was prosecuted
and sentenced for publishing anti-Semitic statements in a free newspaper
in 2013. In Iceland, an editor or director of a media service provider
can receive a fine or be sentenced to imprisonment for up to six
months if the media outlet engages in direct incitement of hatred
on grounds of race, nationality or religious belief (Media Act of
80 In most member States, press associations or press councils
have adopted guidelines or codes of professional ethics for journalists
which clearly prohibit hate speech and discrimination on any ground
(Austria, Denmark, Greece, Lithuania, Norway, Switzerland and the
United Kingdom, among others).
Antisemitic online hate speech has increased in the past few
years. Specific action with Internet service providers and social
media needs to be taken to target specifically this form of hate
speech. Awareness-raising could also be carried out with these companies.
In particular, the recent judgment of the European Court of Human
Rights in Delfi v. EstoniaNote
certain circumstances, the responsibility of the owner of an Internet
portal for the content of users’ comments.
with ECRI and civil society organisations (points 12.16, 12.17 and
In its Resolution 1563 (2007)
, the Assembly called on member States to make use of
ECRI to alert the public authorities to antisemitic activities,
to support ECRI and to give practical follow-up to its recommendations.
I would like to reiterate that ECRI plays a crucial role in the
prevention and fight against antisemitism and welcome its long-standing
co-operation with the Assembly.
83 The Council of Europe No Hate Speech Movement Campaign will
continue until 2017 and combating antisemitism will be one of its
priorities. I call on parliamentarians to co-operate with this campaign
and possibly organise joint events in their parliaments, with the
support of the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance.
84 We cannot combat antisemitism effectively if we do not support
and co-operate with civil society organisations working on awareness-raising,
prevention, support to victims and collection of data. As an example,
the Community Security Trust in the United Kingdom has an agreement
with the police on the sharing of hate crime data.
85 A number of interesting initiatives have been launched by
civil society organisations in recent years. I would like to mention
the European campaign “Facing Facts!” which advocates for hate crime
prevention and provides training on hate crime monitoring systems
to civil society organisations. The annual Muslim Jewish Conference
is another initiative deserving attention. It gathers Muslim and
Jewish students and young professionals from around the world and
invites them to exchange and dialogue. Developing networks and exchanging
experiences can contribute to preventing hatred and negative stereotyping.
of parliamentarians in combating antisemitism
I am convinced that parliamentarians
can play an important role in combating intolerance and hatred. They
can raise awareness of the existence and the nature of antisemitism
and discuss it within their constituencies. By publicly condemning
manifestations of antisemitism and intervening in the media, they
can contribute to changing mindsets. Parliamentarians can also launch
awareness-raising campaigns and lead by example. They call for and
encourage inter-faith dialogue, hold hearings and promote mutual
respect and understanding. According to Vincent Tiberj, “politicians
have a strong responsibility with regard to the level of prejudice
Michael Whine also
stressed that “parliamentarians can make an important contribution to
the fight against hate speech”.Note
87 It is in their role as lawmakers that parliamentarians can
have the biggest impact, by ensuring that the national legislative
framework to prevent and combat discrimination is comprehensive.
Parliamentarians should ensure that antisemitic hate crimes are
included in relevant hate crime legislation and should follow up on
88 Several parliamentary initiatives have been launched at the
international level, showing the resolve of parliamentarians to
combat discrimination and hatred. The No Hate Parliamentary Alliance
held a hearing on combating antisemitism in Europe at is launch
meeting on 29 January 2015 in Strasbourg and will continue working
on this issue. By signing the Charter of commitments, the members
of the Alliance commit to taking an open, firm and proactive stand
against racism, hatred and intolerance on any grounds. Combating antisemitism
is also one of the priorities of the Alliance for 2016-2017. I encourage
the members of the Parliamentary Assembly to join the Alliance.
There is a need for political leaders not to accept antisemitic
and xenophobic statements.
89 The European Parliament Intergroup on Racism and Diversity
will also be working on combating antisemitism in 2016. These two
structures provide fora at the European level to discuss action
to combat antisemitism.
The Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism
was founded in 2008. It brings together 700 parliamentarians from
more than 60 countries who are committed to combating antisemitism.
The main objective of the coalition is to share experience and best
practices and to support the establishment of cross-party groups
against antisemitism in parliaments. According to the Coalition,
“parliamentarians and ministers are uniquely placed to tackle antisemitism.
It is their responsibility to fight it, ensure legislation is existent
and if so, used appropriately, that all services are adequately
trained, and that the affected communities feel supported and their
fears taken seriously”.Note
91 There are also interesting parliamentary initiatives on combating
antisemitism at national level. From 2009 to 2011, a Canadian Parliamentary
Coalition to combat antisemitism was set up to analyse the extent
of the problem and make practical recommendations. It worked as
an independent all-party parliamentary group. The Spanish Senate
has honoured the Official Holocaust Memorial Day since 2006. The
Austrian Parliament hosts a day of commemoration against violence
and racism in memory of the victims of National Socialism every
year. It also organises educational activities with a focus on combating
hate crime. On 11 June 2015, the Norwegian Parliament unanimously
adopted a resolution requesting the government to propose a plan
of action to combat antisemitism, focusing on the education of teachers,
amendments to the curriculum for primary and secondary schools,
and marking the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day in all schools.
92 In the United Kingdom, the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against
Antisemitism commissioned the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into
Antisemitism published in February 2015. The government responded
to the inquiry by reaffirming its commitment to combating antisemitism
and announced it would take measures to improve the reporting of
antisemitic and other hate crimes. Moreover, it created a cross-departmental
task force on antisemitism.
93 I wish to encourage such initiatives in all parliaments of
Council of Europe member and observer States. The commitment of
each parliamentarian to combat antisemitism can contribute to making
a difference. We need to acknowledge our political responsibility
and act accordingly. Not raising our voice against antisemitism for
fear of losing voters can be risky. We need to acknowledge that
Europe is becoming increasingly multicultural and should not tolerate
demonstrations of hatred. We have a responsibility to combat the
current climate of intolerance and show political leadership with
regard to the promotion and protection of human rights.
Relevant action has been taken
by most member States to combat antisemitism and discrimination
since the adoption of Resolution
on combating anti-Semitism in Europe. However, in the
light of the rise of intolerance, xenophobia and antisemitism in
Europe, we need to be increasingly vigilant and step up efforts to
respond to new challenges.
95 Governments and parliaments should consider the fight against
antisemitism as a priority and a responsibility. Action plans on
preventing and combating racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia should
be adopted where it is not yet the case. The plans would include
awareness-raising activities on combating negative stereotyping.
I welcome the appointment of a co-ordinator of the European Union
on combating antisemitism and look forward to her actions at the
level of the European Union. I also encourage parliaments to hold
awareness-raising events on the need to combat antisemitism at national
level, with the support of the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance, and
call on them to react to antisemitic statements and incidents and
lead by example.
96 Future actions should target specifically a reinforcement
of the legislative framework to prevent and combat antisemitism
and increased efforts in the fight against hate speech. I would
also recommend the continuation of programmes for Holocaust remembrance
and investing in youth as the most efficient means of preventing
future manifestations of antisemitism.
97 While the safety of all citizens, including Jewish citizens,
is a priority, a long-term military presence for the protection
of places of worship is not a durable solution since it can also
contribute to increasing a climate of fear. I would encourage governments
and parliaments to engage in reflection and debates on the root causes
of antisemitism and its violent manifestations.
98 Antisemitism is not a question of restoration of justice for
the alleged or real wrongdoings of the State of Israel. One should
be able to criticise the policies of Israel without being called
antisemitic. I am aware that this topic can be easily instrumentalised
and hope the Assembly will engage in a dialogue on this issue with
the observer delegation of the Knesset to the Parliamentary Assembly.
However, it is unacceptable if criticism towards a State is used
to fuel antisemitic sentiments and propaganda. This issue should
be raised in a dialogue between the Assembly and its partners for
democracy, including the Palestinian National Council.
99 Antisemitism is not an isolated phenomenon and should also
be looked at with other forms of hate. Europe is becoming increasingly
diverse and interactions between persons of different religions
could help reduce prejudice and discrimination. Awareness-raising
campaigns on diversity and living together are needed throughout
Europe. I count on co-operation with the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance
and the No Hate Speech Movement campaign to this end.
100 Combating and preventing antisemitism is a human rights issue,
touching the heart of the fundamental values of the Council of Europe.
Combating antisemitism is important, not because Jews deserve higher protection
than others, but because historically antisemitism has shown how
prejudice and intolerance can evolve into systematic harassment
and discrimination, and ultimately into genocide and the mass killing
of people on the basis of their Jewish identity or origin. Europe
needs its Jewish community to feel safe and at home.