While some Western European governments have made strides in tackling increasingly violent expressions of antisemitism, a number of European nations — notably former Soviet bloc countries — have failed to monitor and prosecute hate crimes, according to a new study released this week by a human rights group.
“A few countries — the United Kingdom, France, Germany — have done much more in recent years,” said Michael Posner, president of Human Rights First, which authored the report. “But in many countries, the governments are not paying attention to this problem of antisemitism.”
Posner cited Russia and Ukraine as prime examples. He also said that Scandinavian countries — often praised for their human rights records — have failed to break down hate crime statistics and thus have not monitored antisemitic violence closely.
By contrast, he said that the United States remained a model at the federal level, even though he raised some concerns over the uneven focus of state and local authorities.
Still, “anti-Semitic incidents in Europe and North America — including acts of violence — remain at historically high levels,” the report said. “Throughout much of Europe, anti-Semitic hate crimes occur at a much greater frequency than in the 1990s. Even where the reported number of incidents has declined from one year to another as it has in some countries, the proportion of incidents involving personal attacks on Jews has risen precipitously when compared to attacks on property.”
The survey by Human Rights First follows a series of more limited studies on antisemitism and hate crimes in Europe. It is meant to become an annual, in-depth assessment of the steps taken by the 56 members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
Last month, the Anti-Defamation League released a poll showing that a plurality of Europeans believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their resident countries, that they have too much power in business and that they talk too much about the Holocaust.
Jewish groups have routinely clashed with human rights groups over the latter’s criticism of Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon. At the same time, on the issue of denouncing the rise of antisemitism in Europe, they seem to have found common ground, Posner said.
According to Posner, his organization believes that the fight against antisemitism should be seen as a global human rights issue.
“We want to raise it to a higher level,” he said.