Media Contact: Ben Anderson
(Washington) - United States National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice, on behalf of President George W. Bush, has written to Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) reiterating the Administration’s concern about the rise in anti-Semitic violence in Europe.
Dr. Rice articulated Bush’s position on the escalation of anti-Semitic violence in a letter responding to Co-Chairman Smith’s invitation for the Administration to join congressional efforts to confront the escalation of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe. “The President condemns all forms of anti-Semitism, whether in the form of physical attacks or hateful rhetoric, and is troubled by the evidence that it may be on the rise,” Rice wrote.
Dr. Rice expressed appreciation for the Commission’s activities aimed at combating anti-Semitism. “We welcome and support the U.S. Helsinki Commission’s continued efforts to make this a priority issue for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE],” Rice noted.
The Bush Administration will persist in its efforts to raise anti-Semitic issues with foreign leaders and multilateral organizations, according to Rice. “We will continue to urge foreign leaders and international organizations, such as the United Nations, to take appropriate steps to address this problem.”
The White House remarks were made in response to a letter signed by ten Members of Congress who participated on the U.S. Delegation to the 2002 Berlin Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. The letter to the President stressed, “With violence against Jews and other minorities on the rise, we invite the Administration to partner with our efforts in confronting this alarming trend.”
Co-Chairman Smith, who led the U.S. Delegation, said, “We have seen a disturbing increase of attacks against Jews, synagogues and other Jewish cultural sites, most alarmingly in Western Europe. The Helsinki Commission and Congress have been deeply involved in the issue and we encourage continued engagement by the Administration.”
“Anti-Semitism is an age-old evil that governments and elected leaders must continually confront and denounce,” said Commissioner Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH) who served as Vice Chairman of the U.S. Delegation to the OSCE PA. “There is no place for anti-Semitism in the 21st century and the United States must help lead the way to fight it.”
“In the face of such events, we cannot stand by in silence,” said Ranking Commissioner Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD). “National, local and community leaders must condemn anti-Semitism in the strongest terms and act swiftly to bring to justice those who commit violent crimes.”
Commissioner Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) said, “I hope all participating States will honor their OSCE commitments, where they pledged to unequivocally condemn anti-Semitism and take effective measures to both prosecute those who commit such hate crimes and to protect individuals from anti-Semitic violence.”
Signing the letter with Smith, Voinovich, Hoyer and Cardin were Commissioner Rep. Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA), Commissioner Rep. Robert B. Aderholt (R-AL), Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), Rep. Joseph M. Hoeffel (D-PA) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).
“Mr. President, as you know, anti-Semitism is a plague not unique to Europe, but also lurks here in the United States and elsewhere,” the letter read. “Therefore, we must ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous acts understand that neither the United States Government nor other OSCE participating States will tolerate violence against Jews and Jewish institutions.”
In this year alone, the Helsinki Commission has engaged in numerous efforts to highlight the anti-Semitism trend. In May, the Commission held a hearing on the wave of anti-Semitic violence plaguing many nations among the OSCE. For more information go to http://www.csce.gov.
In July, the U.S. Delegation to the OSCE PA in Berlin sponsored a free-standing resolution condemning anti-Semitism and calling upon all participating States to take concrete steps to quell the violence. The resolution received unanimous approval.
During the Berlin meeting, the U.S. Delegation organized a special forum together with the German Delegation to address the troubling anti-Semitism phenomenon throughout the OSCE region.
The Helsinki Commission has also played an active role in having the issue of anti-Semitism raised in sessions of the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting taking place in Warsaw through September 19th.
The United States Helsinki Commission, an independent federal agency, by law monitors and encourages progress in implementing provisions of the Helsinki Accords. The Commission, created in 1976, is composed of nine Senators, nine Representatives and one official each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.