Four European Countries Might Be Added to Anti-Semitism Watchlist

January 9, 2020

Anti-Semitism watchdogs are calling on the Trump administration to designate France, Sweden, Germany, and the United Kingdom as countries of concern due to the rapid rise of anti-Jewish hate crimes.

At a hearing of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on Wednesday, notable Jewish and human rights activist, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, advised the commission to add the four major European countries to its Tier II watchlist for anti-Semitism.

Each of the four countries identified by Cooper—associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a global human rights organization committed to confronting anti-Semitism—saw alarming increases in anti-Semitic assaults and hate crimes committed in recent years. In all instances, he said, the states failed to decisively respond.

The addition of these countries would mark a milestone in American efforts to combat anti-Semitism abroad, Cooper said.

In France, Cooper denounced a judiciary "policy of appeasement" that in multiple cases released violent, anti-Semitic assailants without a trial, with French authorities deeming them mentally unfit to stand trial. In one case, an assailant stabbed two different Jewish persons in the French city of Strasbourg in 2010 and 2016. In both incidents, the attacker was let off for being mentally ill.

In Sweden and Denmark on Nov. 9, the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht, neo-Nazi stickers littered numerous Jewish sites, homes, and cemeteries. Anti-Semitic hate crimes have increased 53 percent from 2016 to 2018 in Sweden.

In Germany on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, a neo-Nazi tried to open fire on a synagogue in the city of Halle. He failed to break through the security door, shooting two nearby citizens and injuring two others. While visiting Berlin last year, Rabbi Cooper heard that an Israeli student had recently been assaulted in the streets for speaking Hebrew. The rabbi has urged German chancellor Angela Merkel to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization, claiming the designation would quell the group's courting of young Muslims in Germany.

In the United Kingdom, anti-Semitism spread to the electorate through Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party. Hate crimes spiked and the lasting effects will likely be felt for some time, the rabbi said.

Before beginning his testimony, Rabbi Cooper also identified two other factors that have led to the international rise in anti-Semitic sentiment: social media and the state-propagated denial of the Holocaust in Iran. "We're being too kind to the social media giants," the rabbi said. The horrifying live-streamed massacre of 50 Muslim worshippers in two mosques in New Zealand was claimed by the Halle synagogue attacker as a primary influence.

Rabbi Cooper appeared today alongside several panel witnesses, including State Department special envoy Elan Carr, U.N. special rapporteur Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, and former Pakistani ambassador to the United Kingdom Akbar Ahmed. Many witnesses also spoke about the dangers of anti-Semitic propaganda in textbooks provided to children in schools throughout the United States and Europe. They all agreed: Defeating anti-Semitism requires a quick and decisive response by all nations.

Published under: Anti-Semitism