Jerusalem forum recommends new laws on cyberhate, anti-Semitism
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Jerusalem forum recommends new laws on cyberhate, anti-Semitism

Gathering notes ‘pervasive, expansive, transnational’ nature of internet – and the challenge it poses to combating hate

Illustrative: screenshot from the documentary 'Crossing the Line 2,' which depicts rising anti-Semitic activity on North American campuses. (Courtesy)
Illustrative: screenshot from the documentary 'Crossing the Line 2,' which depicts rising anti-Semitic activity on North American campuses. (Courtesy)

The biennial Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism issued statements recommending steps for governments and websites to reduce cyber hate, and for European governments to reduce anti-Semitism.

“Given the pervasive, expansive and transnational nature of the internet and the viral nature of hate materials, counter-speech alone is not a sufficient response to cyber hate. The right to free expression does not require or obligate the internet industry to disseminate hate materials. They too are moral actors, free to pursue internet commerce in line with ethics, social responsibility, and a mutually agreed code of conduct,” read a statement issued Thursday night in Jerusalem by the Forum, which is run by Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

Among the recommendations to Internet providers: to adopt a clear industry standard for defining hate speech and anti-Semitism; adopt global terms of service prohibiting the posting of such materials; provide an effective complaint process and maintain a timely and professional response capacity; and ban Holocaust denial sites from the Web as a form of egregious hate speech.

Recommendations to governments include: establishing a national legal unit responsible for combating cyber hate; making stronger use of existing laws to prosecute cyber hate and online anti-Semitism, and enhancing the legal basis for prosecution where such laws are absent; and adopting stronger laws and penalties for the prohibition of Internet materials promoting terrorism and supporting recruitment to terrorist groups.

The forum also addressed the upsurge of anti-Semitism in Europe.

“European institutions and governments need to take strong proactive steps to address the current outbreak of anti-Semitism in order to assure the continued vibrancy of Jewish communal life in Europe,” read a statement issued Thursday.

Among the recommendations for combating anti-Semitism: adopt a formal definition of anti-Semitism applicable throughout the European Union and its member states under law including reference to attacks on the legitimacy of the State of Israel and its right to exist, and Holocaust denial as forms of anti-Semitism; apply agreed standardized mechanisms for monitoring and recording incidents of anti-Semitism in all EU countries; take urgent and sustained steps to assure the physical security of Jewish communities, their members and institutions; and direct education ministries to increase teacher training and adopt pedagogic curricula against anti-Semitism, and towards religious tolerance and Holocaust remembrance.

The three-day conference hosted a panel of prominent Muslim leaders and imams from Europe who came to speak out about anti-Semitism in Europe. The opening of the conference featured addresses by the mayor of Paris and the German justice minister.

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