Press Release - Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Declaration by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Conference on Antisemitism, Sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
For Immediate Release
Contact: Shin Inouye, 202.869.0398, firstname.lastname@example.org
April 28, 2004
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is the oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition in the United States. Founded in 1950, LCCR consists of more than 185 national organizations, representing persons of color, women, children, labor unions, individuals with disabilities, older Americans, major religious groups, gays and lesbians and civil liberties and human rights groups. Together, over 50 million Americans belong to organizations that comprise LCCR.
Over the years, LCCR has been at the forefront of efforts to combat racism and discrimination in all its forms, including the fight against antisemitism. American communities have learned the hard way that failure to address bias and bias motivated crimes can cause an isolated incident to fester and result in widespread tension.
Hate crimes have a special emotional and physical impact that extends beyond the original victim. They intimidate others in the victim's community, causing them to feel isolated, vulnerable, and unprotected by the law. By making members of a specific group fearful, angry and suspicious, these acts can polarize communities and damage the very fabric of our society.
In recent years, Jews and Jewish institutions have been the targets of increased antisemitic violence. Incidents like synagogue and school arsons, physical and verbal abuse of Jews in the street, and cemetery desecrations have been on the rise across the OSCE region. New manifestations of anti-Semitism have emerged in many areas of society – in political, religious, and civic life. These incidents sometimes take the form of singling out Jews, as individuals or as a people, in exaggerated and unjust ways. Criticism of the practices and policies of any state is the right and duty of responsible leaders. But the demonization of Jews individually or collectively, including in connection with criticism of Israel or Zionism (Jewish nationalism), is anti-Semitism and a form of racism.
LCCR, as a defender of human rights, views these incidents as serious human rights violations, and calls upon the OSCE as an institution and its Participating States to undertake a program of action to combat this disturbing phenomenon.
As the OSCE moves forward to implement the Maastricht Decision urging states to gather hate crime data in cooperation with institutions such as the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), NGOs have a critical role to play in working with law enforcement authorities and civic leaders to ensure effective reporting and enforcement and to raise the necessary awareness to promote hate crime reporting by victims.
We commit ourselves to intensify efforts to combat anti-Semitism and to promote and strengthen tolerance and non-discrimination in the civil society community.
We commit to working with NGO partners to learn from each others' experience and to share best practices in the fight against anti-Semitism.
We urge the OSCE and its participating states to implement a program of action to ensure that Jews may fully enjoy their human rights on an equal basis with all peoples, in security and dignity.
We strongly urge states to take the following actions to address anti-Semitism and hate violence:
I. Legislative and Institutional Mechanisms and Government Action, including Law Enforcement
1. Reaffirm OSCE commitments to take effective measures to combat anti-Semitism.
2. Authorize OSCE to monitor incidents of anti-Semitism and other hate crimes, publicly report findings, and encourage participating states to institute hate crime data collection mechanisms where none exist.
3. Task OSCE with monitoring and reporting about the nature of anti-Semitism to help states identify, report, and respond to anti-Semitic incidents accurately.
4. Urge OSCE's law enforcement arm to craft a training model to ensure law enforcement officials can recognize anti-Semitic and other hate crimes and develop transparent procedures for recording and responding to these incidents.
5. Ensure that each nation's national legal systems provide effective protection against all forms of anti-Semitism in conformity with international and regional antidiscrimination and human rights standards. Undertake measures to ensure effective implementation of legislation prohibiting discrimination and incitement to hatred and that action is taken against institutions and individuals responsible for violating these norms.
6. Law enforcement anti-bias training.
II. The Role of Government and Civil Society in Promoting Tolerance
1. Condemn unequivocally, at the highest levels, all manifestations of anti-Semitism, and make clear that acts of anti-Semitic hatred and intolerance are unacceptable and will be severely punished.
2. Ensure swift and thorough investigations into incidents of anti-Semitic violence and vandalism, as well as acts of discrimination – making sure that those found responsible are brought to ju