Media Contact: Ben Anderson
(Washington) - United States Helsinki Commission Chairmen Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) and Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) expressed their gratification that both chambers of Congress have approved resolutions condemning anti-Semitism as the House today passed H.Con.Res. 49. The Senate passed S.Con.Res. 7 on May 22.
“Now both the House and Senate have made strong statements concerning the growing problem of anti-Semitism and related violence. Together with colleagues on the Helsinki Commission, we have diligently urged the leaders of OSCE participating States to confront and combat the plague of anti-Semitism,” said Chairman Smith.
“The anti-Semitic violence we witnessed in 2002, which stretched the breadth of the OSCE region, was a wake-up call that this evil still lives today. I am pleased that the Congress has sent an unequivocal message that anti-Semitism must be confronted, and it must be confronted now,” declared Co-Chairman Campbell.
“The Helsinki Commission has continued to put a spotlight on this issue,” said Ranking Commissioner Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD). “We reaffirmed these commitments at our February 2003 Winter Session in Vienna. Next week, I will join Mr. Smith at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Rotterdam, where we will also debate and pass a resolution which condemns anti-Semitism and sets forth a framework for specific action to be taken by participating States in Europe and Asia.”
“Today’s resolution is, at the very least, a symbolic statement of the House that the United States will not stand idly by while many European governments neglect a rise in anti-Semitism,” said Commissioner Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL). “We must work with our allies – and not hesitate to apply pressure when needed – to ensure that governments properly address increases in anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination.”
The resolutions express the sense of the Congress that last year’s sharp escalation of anti-Semitic violence “is of profound concern and efforts should be undertaken to prevent future occurrences.”
The resolutions were introduced in response to a disturbing rise last summer in anti-Semitism and related violence in many participating States of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including the United States. The bipartisan resolutions were introduced in the Senate and House by Campbell and Smith respectively.
The resolutions call for all OSCE participating States to ensure effective law enforcement and prosecution of individuals perpetrating anti-Semitic violence and urge the respective parliaments to take concrete legislative action. The resolutions also urge the creation of “educational efforts” to “counter anti-Semitic stereotypes and attitudes among younger people,” as well as “increase Holocaust awareness programs.”
The resolutions call for an OSCE meeting specifically focusing on anti-Semitism. The OSCE convened such a meeting last week in Vienna, Austria highlighting regional concerns with the rise in anti-Semitic attitudes and related violence throughout Europe. Commission Chairman Smith and Commissioner Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) participated in the Vienna meeting as members of the U.S. delegation headed by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Text of the resolutions is available through the Library of Congress at http://thomas.loc.gov.
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.