Antisemitism of top European Court judge exposed

Human rights court urged to re-examine cases involving Jews after Bostjan Zupancic was found to have shared extremist material online


The European Court of Human Rights is facing calls to re-examine cases involving Jews after its longest-serving judge was exposed for sharing extreme antisemitic content on social media.

Bostjan Zupancic, who worked at the court for 17 years until 2016, has shared claims that Jews are “the central enemies of Western civilization”, as well as the hook-nosed caricatures commonly seen in neo-Nazi propaganda.

The former ECHR judge adjudicated in numerous hearings that directly affected Jewish communities, including cases involving kosher abattoirs and the restitution of property owned by German Jews.

Zupancic, who has also been Vice President of the UN Committee Against Torture, posted the claim that Jews “introduced… sexual perversions of all sorts… sadism, masochism, lots of homosexuality” before the Nazis came to power and a link to a YouTube video that supposedly revealed the “rise of the Rothschild banking mafia”.

He also shared an assertion that the “Jewish war on white is behind the arson of the West, and unless Jewish power is named as the cancer, there is not hope for the white race”.

Lord Carlile KC, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said: “It’s a matter of great regret that this judge should have abandoned the human rights principles he must have regarded as important.

“I would call upon the current court and its member states such as the UK to disavow Zupancic’s statements, and I would suggest there should be an examination of the cases on which he sat to ensure that the views he is now expressing did not affect his judgments.”

The remarks were echoed by Jonathan Turner, Chief Executive of UK Lawyers for Israel, who said his organisation was looking into “whether any judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in which Bostjan Zupancic participated should be reconsidered”.

After leaving the ECHR in 2016, Zupancic joined the European Centre of Law and Justice (ECLJ), an influential, conservative human rights think tank. It enjoys a special status that enables it to make reports to the UN. It also makes submissions to the ECHR.

This week, the ECLJ said it was removing him from his role in the wake of the revelations.

On Tuesday, Zupancic was temporarily locked out of his account on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, on the grounds his posts were “breaking our hateful conduct rule”.

Zupancic has also reposted criticism of the use of Covid-19 vaccines, support for Vladimir Putin and statements by the Russian president’s chief ideologue, Aleksandr Dugin.

His recent antisemitic posts, which he shared on both X and LinkedIn, were first unearthed by the GnasherJew digital investigative team.

In August last year, he posted an article titled “Khazarian Mafia’s system of cartels to subjugate the entire planet”.

The claim that Europe’s Jews are descended from Khazar Cossacks is a common antisemitic trope.

Zupancic’s antisemitic posts grew more frequent and extreme in 2023. The have featured the claim that the “Jewish Chabad” devised a plan in 1994 to “liquidate Slavs” via a Russo-Ukraine war.

In another post, he linked to an article which, his tweet said, revealed that “Jews are the central enemies of Western civilization, but far too many self-proclaimed defenders of the West are still blind to the enemy within the gates”.

Even before joining the ECHR, Zupancic, 76, had enjoyed a stellar career. Educated in Slovenia and then at Harvard Law School, he became an academic lawyer, initially as a research scholar and then at universities including Montreal, Zagreb and Cambridge.

He has also given lectures at universities across the globe, and written dozens of books and academic articles.

Jewish-related cases at the human rights court in Strasbourg that Zupancic was involved in as a judge included the consideration of kosher abbatoirs in France; the restitution of property owned by German Jews; an advertising campaign by the Peta animal rights group that compared their treatment to that of Jews by the Nazis; and whether the French comedian Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala had a right to express antisemitic views on stage.

Zupancic reportedly received dual French citizenship in 2014, and became an associate fellow of the ECLJ in 2020.

UK lawyers experienced at dealing with human rights cases voiced concern, saying the court must now review cases where Zupancic was involved, to ensure that its decisions had not been influenced by his antisemitism.

Turner said: “These revelations are a reminder that highly educated and intelligent people can believe and circulate the most absurd antisemitic lies.

“We will look into whether any judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in which Bostjan Zupancic participated should be reconsidered.”

Zupancic did not respond to the JC’s requests for comment. A ECHR spokesperson declined to comment.

The ECLJ’s director, Gregor Puppinick, confirmed it had terminated its relationship with him.

He told the JC: “I took him out of our ‘fellows’ when I was informed of his antisemitism. It was a surprise as his reputation was high at the court. The ECLJ fully condemns antisemitism.

"There should be no room for antisemitism, especially within human rights institutions. The ECLJ is actively supportive of the Jewish community and Israel.”

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