Helsinki Commission Leaders Spearhead Initiative to Combat Anti-Semitism

Monday, May 24, 2004

Washington - United States Helsinki Commission leaders introduced concurrent resolutions in the House and Senate encouraging the “ongoing work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)” in combating anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance, urging the 55 OSCE countries to do more. 

“As we must pursue the scourge of anti-Semitism with steadfast vigilance, I am eager for my colleagues in the House of Representatives to join this bipartisan effort to spur on action,” said Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ). “Having just returned from the historic Berlin OSCE Conference on Anti-Semitism, I have introduced this resolution to build on the momentum and press ahead for concrete change.”

“I remain concerned over manifestations of anti-Semitism and related violence in the OSCE region,” said Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO). “I urge my Senate colleagues to take up the Senate resolution quickly, putting the Senate on record in support of the ongoing work of the OSCE in combating anti-Semitism.”

“While anti-Semitism continues to be a serious problem throughout Europe and North America, the United States Helsinki Commission has, over the past two years, successfully moved the OSCE and its participating States to take action,” added Ranking Commission Member Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD).  “This resolution focuses on the need for sustained involvement by governments in a variety of areas.”

The House and Senate “sense-of-Congress resolutions” are aimed at building upon the work of the Berlin Conference and encouraging OSCE countries to implement their commitments to combat anti-Semitism.  The resolutions urge all 55 OSCE countries to unequivocally condemn anti-Semitic acts and create legal mechanisms to track anti-Semitic crimes.  They also call for the designation of a special OSCE envoy to ensure sustained attention to the issue. 

In April, Chairman Smith, Commissioner Cardin and Commissioner Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) attended the historic Berlin OSCE Conference on Anti-Semitism.  The Berlin Declaration highlights commitments made by the 55 States and declares that “international developments or political issues, including those in Israel or elsewhere in the Middle East, never justify anti-Semitism.”  The action-oriented declaration also highlighted the commitment to monitor anti-Semitic crimes and hate crimes, including through collection and maintenance of statistics about such incidents.

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