Tackling antisemitic crime

This week our CEO, Dr Andre Oboler, has been in The Netherlands working with their Ministry of Justice and Security on the first European Conference of Public Prosecution Services on Antisemitism. The conference which took place in The Hague on Tuesday and Wednesday brought together prosecution service and police prosecutors from across Europe and beyond.

An excellent opening keynote was provided by the European Commission’s coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life, Katharina von Schnurbein, who referenced the Online Hate Prevention Institute’s work on Racist Anti-Zionism in her remarks.

Dr Oboler provided further scene setting with the results of a survey of participating prosecution services carried out in the weeks prior to the conference. The survey was a key part of the work the Online Hate Prevention Institute has undertaken over the last six months to support the National Coordinator for Antisemitism in The Netherlands. The survey asked prosecutors how antisemitic crimes were addressed in their jurisdiction, exploring differences in law, methodology, organisational structure, approaches to evidence, among many other topics. The presentation of results set the stage for discussions between prosecution services to better understand best practices and current challenges in addressing antisemitic crime in general, and online antisemitic crime in particular.

On Wednesday Dr Oboler presented on online antisemitism, social media and AI. This interactive session invited prosecutors to assess 15 examines of online content and to consider whether they were antisemitic and criminal (i.e. antisemitic crime), antisemitic but not criminal (i.e. “awful but lawful”), or not antisemitic. Once people had voted the results were discussed and some examples were deconstructed for more in-depth consideration and comparison of the way different laws would treat the content. The session continue with a presentation of data from the OHPI report Online Antisemitism After October 7, and a discussion of five ways AI is now (in 2024) being used to generate different forms of antisemitic content.

The discussions at the conference were open, frank, and enlightening. They set the groundwork for an international exchange of ideas on tackling hate crime targeting Jewish communities, but also challenges in the more general area of online hate crime. Bringing together those working on the frontlines assessing and prosecuting criminal antisemitic activity made this a really practical and effective meeting, and a valuable compliment to the meetings of antisemitism envoys and politicians.