Understanding Antisemitic Hate Crimes and Addressing the Security Needs of Jewish Communities

A practical Guide published by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)

In recent years, deadly anti-Semitic attacks in Toulouse, Brussels, Paris, Copenhagen and elsewhere have created a widespread sense of fear and insecurity among Jewish communities and have underscored the urgent need for greater efforts to address anti-Semitism.

Violent anti-Semitic acts targeting Jewish individuals or persons perceived to be Jewish challenge the values of free, democratic and inclusive societies. Crimes such as the desecration of cemeteries, attacks on synagogues, Jewish cultural centres, Holocaust memorials or Israeli institutions can affect Jewish life throughout the OSCE region. In some participating States, these hate crimes have damaged or destroyed the few remaining traces of Jewish culture that survived the Holocaust.

The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is mandated to support participating States with their efforts to counter anti-Semitism. Most recently, in 2014, the OSCE Basel Ministerial Council Declaration on “Enhancing Efforts to Combat Anti-Semitism” called on ODIHR to offer participating States best practices on efforts to counter anti-Semitism.1 Earlier, the OSCE Kyiv Ministerial Council Decision on Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Religion or Belief called on governments to endeavour to prevent, and protect against, attacks on religious communities.

In this guide, ODIHR offers concrete recommendations to turn these commitments into practical action. We offer our thanks to experts from across the region who have provided input on good practices developed and implemented in various OSCE participating States. We encourage participating States to use this practical guide as a starting point for an open and thoughtful assessment of the problem of anti-Semitism and consideration of policies and measures to address it.

This publication is part of ODIHR’s Words into Action Project, generously funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It acknowledges the need to engage with the specific challenges posed by anti-Semitism through an approach firmly anchored in the framework of international human rights and OSCE commitments. We hope it might also be used as a model for addressing the security needs and experiences of other communities vulnerable to hate crimes.