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Renewed commitment in the fight against antisemitism in Europe

Report | Doc. 14008 | 31 March 2016

Committee
Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination
Rapporteur :
Mr Boriss CILEVIČS, Latvia, SOC
Origin
Reference to committee: Doc. 13751, Reference 4127 of 24 April 2015. 2016 - Second part-session

Summary

Targeted attacks against members of the Jewish community in recent years in several Council of Europe member States show that antisemitism remains a threat. Based on persisting stereotypes, ignorance and hatred, it is contrary to the fundamental values of the Council of Europe. Historically, manifestations of antisemitism have shown how prejudice and intolerance can lead to harassment, discrimination and ultimately mass killings and genocide. In the light of recent events and the rise of intolerance and xenophobia, there is a need to step up efforts to prevent and combat this scourge.

The full implementation of a comprehensive anti-discrimination and anti-racism legislative framework is a prerequisite for efficient action against antisemitism. The continuation of programmes for Holocaust teaching and remembrance, awareness-raising campaigns and the adoption of specific measures against hate speech, including online, can contribute to preventing its manifestations. Focus should be on building trust with the national authorities so as to encourage the reporting of antisemitic attacks and hate crimes.

Since action at the political level is essential, the fight against antisemitism should be considered a priority by governments and parliaments. Parliamentarians have a responsibility to show their commitment and political leadership for the protection of human rights. They can play an important role in the prevention of antisemitism by systematically and publicly condemning antisemitic attacks and discourse.

A Draft resolutionNote

1 Targeted attacks against members of the Jewish community in recent years in several Council of Europe member States demonstrate that antisemitism is not a curse of the past, but is a threat and a reality in Europe today.
2 The Parliamentary Assembly has observed for some years a worrying rise in manifestations of hate speech, racism, xenophobia and intolerance in Europe affecting migrants and asylum seekers, Jews, Muslims and Roma, Sinti and Travellers. It has relentlessly condemned manifestations of hatred and intolerance and called on its members to take a strong stand against them.
3 Historically, manifestations of antisemitism have shown how prejudice and intolerance can lead to systematic harassment, discrimination and ultimately mass killings and genocide. Still today, persisting stereotypes, insults and physical violence are experienced on a daily basis by members of the Jewish community in Europe. Limited protection mechanisms and the partial implementation of anti-discrimination and anti-racism legislation do not guarantee equality and safety for all.
4 Antisemitism and its manifestations are in contradiction with the fundamental values of the Council of Europe. It finds its origin in deep-rooted prejudice in society against Jews, which will only be overcome by increased awareness-raising efforts among the population and strong political condemnation. The Assembly expresses its concerns regarding the perpetuation of discriminatory stereotypes and calls for action to combat this scourge.
5 Most Council of Europe member States have taken relevant action to combat antisemitism and discrimination. But in the light of recent events, member States need to be increasingly vigilant and step up efforts to respond to new challenges. Governments and parliaments should consider the fight against antisemitism as a priority and their responsibility, as an integral part of policies and action to counter all forms of hatred.
6 Referring to its Resolution 1563 (2007) on combating anti-Semitism in Europe, the Assembly recalls that antisemitism represents a danger for all democratic States as it serves as a pretext for the use of and justification for violence. The Assembly also supports the work of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) in preventing and combating all forms of racism and intolerance, including antisemitism. Full implementation of its General Policy Recommendation No. 9 on the fight against antisemitism and follow-up to its recommendations following country visits need to be ensured.
7 In the light of these considerations, the Assembly calls on member States, observers and partners for democracy to:
7.1 with regard to the condemnation and prosecution of antisemitic crimes:
7.1.1 ensure that the legislative framework on combating discrimination on any ground and hate speech is comprehensive and implemented, covering manifestations of antisemitism, such as public incitement to violence, hatred or discrimination, public insults, threats and desecration and profanation of Jewish property and monuments;
7.1.2 make the public denial, trivialisation, justification or praise of the Holocaust (“Shoah”), of crimes of genocide and of crimes against humanity a criminal offence, when it is not yet the case;
7.1.3 make a motive based on race, national or ethnic origin, religion or belief an aggravating factor in a criminal offence, when it is not yet the case;
7.1.4 ensure the prosecution of political figures and political parties for antisemitic statements and incitement to hatred;
7.1.5 suppress public funding of organisations and political parties promoting antisemitism;
7.1.6 sign and ratify, if they have not yet done so, Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 177);
7.2 with regard to the reporting of antisemitic and other hate crimes:
7.2.1 increase the level of trust in the national authorities by providing police officers with training on combating hate crime and discrimination, and setting up dedicated anti-hate crime units in police forces, when it is not yet the case;
7.2.2 encourage victims to report antisemitic and other hate crimes by launching information campaigns on how to report such crimes;
7.2.3 step up efforts to ensure the collection of motivation-disaggregated data on hate crimes and ensure the publication of the number of complaints and their motivation;
7.2.4 encourage co-operation between the police, the judiciary, educators and civil society organisations in assisting victims of hate crime;
7.3 with regard to the prevention of antisemitism:
7.3.1 require that educational programmes make a link between current manifestations of hatred and intolerance and the Holocaust (“Shoah”);
7.3.2 ensure that the teaching of the Holocaust (“Shoah”) is made an integral part of the curriculum at secondary level and that teachers receive specific training;
7.3.3 encourage exchanges between children and young people of different faiths via joint activities, cultural programmes and sports events;
7.3.4 engage in reflections and debates, at governmental and parliamentary levels, on the reasons behind the persistence of negative stereotyping and the root causes of antisemitism;
7.3.5 oblige perpetrators of antisemitic acts to participate in educational programmes on the Holocaust (“Shoah”);
7.3.6 launch awareness-raising campaigns promoting respect and harmonious living together;
7.4 with regard to antisemitism in the media and online antisemitic hate speech:
7.4.1 encourage the media to promote respect for all religious faiths and appreciation of diversity and report impartially on antisemitic attacks and on world events, with a view to preventing the fuelling of tensions;
7.4.2 urge Internet service providers and social media to take specific action to prevent and combat online hate speech;
7.4.3 sign and ratify, if they have not yet done so, the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems (ETS No. 189).
8 The Assembly encourages national parliaments, including partners for democracy, to co-operate with the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance and the No Hate Speech Movement campaign in their activities to prevent and combat antisemitism and other forms of hate speech and intolerance. The Assembly also calls for increased dialogue on means to prevent and combat antisemitism with the observer delegation of the Knesset at the Assembly.
9 The Assembly urges members of national parliaments and political leaders to systematically and publicly condemn antisemitic statements and engage in counter speech and alternative narratives.
10 The Assembly recognises the important role of civil society organisations in preventing and combating all forms of hatred and intolerance and calls for their continuous financial support.
11 Referring to Recommendation 1962 (2011) on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue and Recommendation 2080 (2015) on freedom of religion and living together in a democratic society, the Assembly reiterates its proposal that the Committee of Ministers set up a stable and officially recognised platform for dialogue between the Council of Europe and senior representatives of religions and non-denominational organisations.  

B Explanatory memorandum by Mr Boriss Cilevičs, rapporteur

1 Introduction

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.
3 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.
7 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 2069 (2015) on recognising and preventing neo-racism, Resolution 2011 (2014) on counteraction to manifestations of neo-Nazism and right-wing extremism and Resolution 1967 (2014) 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 level.
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

10 The motion at the origin of this report recalls Assembly Resolution 1563 (2007) 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.
11 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 parliaments of Council of Europe member States and from twoNote parliaments 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.

3 Preconditions for violence and manifestations of antisemitism

3.1 The 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 audience.
15 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 and that 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 spreading.
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.
17 According to the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union (FRA),Note perpetrators 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 Antisemitism 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.

3.2 A growing feeling of insecurity

19 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 Strong political statements clearly rejecting expressions of antisemitism are needed in order to reassure the Jewish communities.
20 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 Jewish Students.Note In some demonstrations in France, we can hear or read “Mort aux Juifs” (Death to the Jews) on banners.Note Attacks 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.
22 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
23 In Turkey, there is a growing fear of antisemitic attacks and reports of rising antisemitic speech, notably in the social media.Note
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 encourage violence.

3.3 Available data on antisemitism

25 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 which 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
26 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 In 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.
28 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 53 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.
29 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 In 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 whenever possible.

4 Thematic evaluation of the implementation of Resolution 1563 (2007)

34 In order to carry out an evaluation of the implementation of Resolution 1563 (2007), I have grouped the 19 points of the resolution in six thematic clusters.

4.1 Legislation 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 unconstitutional.
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.
42 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
43 In its Resolution 1563 (2007), 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.
44 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 As required 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.

4.2 Condemnation and prosecution of antisemitism (points 12.2, 12.3, 12.4 and 12.19)

4.2.1 Condemnation and prosecution of public figures and political parties

45 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 statements.
46 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.

4.2.2 Public denial, justification or praise of crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity

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.
50 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 I would also like to mention the decision Garaudy v. France.Note Declaring 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”.
51 In its Resolution 1563 (2007), 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 hate speech.
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.

4.2.3 Antisemitic 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 Norway.
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 criminal offence.

4.3 Preventive 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.

4.4 History 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.

4.5 The 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.
77 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 1563 (2007) 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 2011).
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).
81 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 established, under certain circumstances, the responsibility of the owner of an Internet portal for the content of users’ comments.

4.6 Co-operation with ECRI and civil society organisations (points 12.16, 12.17 and 12.18)

82 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.

5 Role of parliamentarians in combating antisemitism

86 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 in society”.Note 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 its implementation.
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.
90 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.

6 Conclusions

94 Relevant action has been taken by most member States to combat antisemitism and discrimination since the adoption of Resolution 1563 (2007) 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.
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