BERLIN – This week, a delegation of leading American civil and human rights advocates will attend the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) conference on anti-Semitism to raise concern about escalating anti-Semitism across the region and to urge the 57 participating states to fulfill their commitments to fight hate crimes and discrimination against Jews and all vulnerable communities.
The conference marks the tenth anniversary of the 2004 Berlin Declaration, which urged OSCE participating states to reject anti-Semitism and to monitor and combat it through legislation and education. The conference will assess progress and shortcomings in compliance with the Berlin Declaration. The most recent report documenting how countries are faring in meeting their obligations 2013 report from the Anti-Defamation League and Human Rights First concluded that the majority of states are still falling short.
The American delegation, which includes leading Jewish, Muslim, Latino, African-American, Asian American, women’s and LGBT civil rights leaders, will urge member states to do more to protect minorities from religious, racial, ethnic, homophobic, and xenophobic aggression.
The delegation will lift up their inter-faith, inter-racial coalition as a model for co-operation against anti-Semitism and hate crimes. It will also lift up America’s passage five years ago of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) as one model for other nations to follow.
“We have come to Berlin to demonstrate our solidarity with communities facing anti-Semitism and bigotry and to exchange models for successful inter-racial, inter-faith coalitions. Our experience is that broad, inclusive coalitions can galvanize public support and a more accountable and responsive government approach,” said head of delegation Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The HCPA is a model for preventing and monitoring bias-motivated crimes that we recommend all OSCE nations consider.”
“The Participating States of the OSCE gather to assess their action over the last decade against the backdrop of a stunning escalation of anti-Semitism across the region that has shocked the conscience of the world,” said Stacy Burdett, Government and National Affairs Director of the Anti-Defamation League and co-chair of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ task force on human rights. “We have come together to demonstrate that Jewish communities must not face these threats alone. Working together, NGO coalitions can help create political space for more effective government action against anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry and hate crime which are also rising in the region.”
Henderson led a similar delegation to the 2004 Berlin Conference urging member states to issue its initial Berlin Declaration. “There was no other group like us. We brought diversity to the conference and made an impact simply by being there,” Henderson said. “There is still much work to be done in the United States, but our lessons learned over centuries of struggle to be a more inclusive democracy – from emancipation, women’s suffrage, Jim Crow, Japanese internment, immigration reform, protecting religious minorities, and LGBT equality – can resonate in the global struggle for human rights for all.”
If you’d like to interview a member of the delegation, please reach out to Scott Simpson at Simpson@civilrights.org.
A full delegation list is below:
- Wade Henderson, Delegation Leader, is the President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund.
- Zainab Al-Suwaij is the co-founder and Executive Director of the American Islamic Congress.
- Ellen Buchman is Vice President of Field Operations, at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund.
- Stacy Burdett serves as the Government & National Affairs Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and co-chairs The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ task force on human rights.
- Michael Calhoun is President of the Center for Responsible Lending; and a board member of The Leadership Conference Education Fund.
- Tanya Clay House is the Director of the Public Policy Department at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
- Richard Cohen is President of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
- Caroline Fredrickson is President of the American Constitution Society.
- Jean Freedberg is the Deputy Director, HRC Global at the Human Rights Campaign.
- Linda Kamm, who is now retired, held various senior legal positions with the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch and served on the boards of several Jewish organizations, including American Jewish World Service and Americans for Peace Now.
- Karen McGill Lawson is the Executive Vice President and COO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund.
- Elliott Lichtman is a well-respected attorney with decades of experience in immigration law.
- Judith L. Lichtman serves as the Senior Advisor of the National Partnership for Women & Families and as Chair of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
- Mee Moua is the President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.
- Robert Rubin, a civil rights attorney since 1978, is former Senior Counsel and Legal Director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Hilary O. Shelton serves as the Director to the NAACP’s Washington Bureau/Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy.
- Scott Simpson is Press Secretary at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund.
- Jasjit Singh is Executive Director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
- Tad Stahnke serves as the Vice President, Research and Analysis, at Human Rights First. Stahnke co-chairs The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ task force on human rights.
- Hadar Susskind is the Director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action and the Bend the Arc Jewish Action PAC.
- Brent A. Wilkes is the National Executive Director for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).
- June Zeitlin is Director of Human Rights Policy at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund. She also serves as OSCE Chairperson’s Special Representative on Gender Issues.
- Harold Zirkin is a Managing Director of United Capital of Bethesda and Chairman of the Investment Committee for the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System.
- Nancy Zirkin is Executive Vice President and Director of Policy at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Right is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.