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Combating antisemitism through legislation

Combating antisemitism through legislation
We can see that the working definition is not legally binding. What legislation exists, then, with regard to antisemitism, and how did it come about? Let’s examine this by focusing on the efforts made in Europe today. Europe now has in place a wide range of legislation which both governs the European Union and the wider Europe of the Council of Europe in the OSCE. The basic law is the 2008 Framework decision of the European Union which requires ‘EU’ European Union member states to criminalize incitement based on religious or ethnic differences. So that would include antisemitism. It also requires them to criminalize Holocaust denial and denial of genocide.
So that is basic European legislation and all European Union member states are required to transpose that into their own domestic legislation. Then there’s the 2012 victim’s directive which has the same power. It’s a directive and member states are required to amend their criminal legislation - to put the victim at the heart of the criminal justice process which means you have to take into account the victim’s needs; there’s requirements, what the impact of crime on the victim, and that includes hate crime and antisemitic hate crime. So these two pieces of European legislation are very important from that point of view because member states are required to transpose them.
Then there’s the additional protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on cybercrime which requires all the wider European states to criminalize online incitement, again on religious or ethnic grounds and also denial of the Holocaust. So you’ve got three sets of legislation. And that is beginning to have an effect on European Legislation domestically. So most European states have prosecuted antisemitic incitement in one way or another. There’s also the European Court of Human Rights which follows these lines, and there’s a whole body of legislation, judgments from the European Court of Human Rights which have upheld national states’ findings on incitement to antisemitism, Holocaust denial, belittling of Jews, incitement to antisemitic hatred.
So you’ve got a body now of European legislation, not just within the EU but wider Europe which protects Jews and which places legal parameters on incitement to hatred against Jews. So it’s really very important and you’re beginning to see national governments also enhancing their own legislation, following this line. So for example in the UK, we’ve had a series of enhancements of legislation and directives to prosecutors and to police on how, for example, they would prosecute antisemitic incitement on the Internet and again we’ve got a series of judgments which have upheld this legal position. The definition and the legislation should be not only against antisemitism. There are many more minorities that are targeted. There are many more problems.
There is a lot of hate against minorities, entities, ethnic entities. We should take our definition and legislation and make it a starting point in order to have more definitions and more legislation that would help countries and societies act towards other minorities and entities.

Michael Whine MBE, Prof. Dina Porat

What legislation exists with regard to antisemitism, and how did it come about?

Linked here is the publication summarizing the international conference “An End to Antisemitism!” that took place in Vienna in February 2018 and was organized by the European Jewish Congress, New York University, Tel Aviv University and the University of Vienna.


  • Marcus, Kenneth L., Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

  • Naamat, Talia and Idit Deutch, Legislating against Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial (Tel Aviv: Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, Tel Aviv University, 2014).

  • Osin, Nina and Dina Porat, eds., Legislating against Discrimination: An International Survey of Anti-Discrimination Norms (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2005).

  • Whine, Michael, “Expanding Holocaust Denial and Legislation against It,” Jewish Political Studies Review, vol. 20, no. 1/2 (Spring 2008), pp. 57 – 77.

  • Whine, Michael, “Can the European Agencies Combat Antisemitism Effectively?,” Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, vol. 11, no. 3 (2017), pp. 371 – 381.

  • Stern, Marc, “Antisemitism and the Law: Constitutional Issues and Antisemitism,” in Jerome Chanes, ed., Antisemitism in America Today: Outspoken Experts Explode the Myths (New York: Birch Lane Press, 1995), pps 385 – 407.

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Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present

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