WASHINGTON –International efforts to fight anti-Semitism require greater action and unity, especially in light of the turmoil in the Middle East, said U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission).
Smith made the remarks at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Prague meeting on “Confronting Anti-Semitism in Public Discourse.” He said investigations and prosecutions of crimes related to anti-Jewish bias were critical to addressing the problem.
“Solidarity fatigue and indifference enables the purveyors of anti-Semitic hate,” said Smith, “Each of us must re-commit and redouble our efforts particularly in monitoring, reporting, and vigorous prosecution of anti-Semitic crime and enhanced protection of Jews and Jewish institutions. And we must seek ways to expand ownership of this issue by encouraging more people to get involved.”
The event was organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). Proposals included improving the tracking of expressions of hate, focusing on confronting hate speech, and increasing tolerance education. Smith called for decisive steps to counter expressions of intolerance and hatred while preserving freedom of speech.
“This week’s high-level OSCE/ODIHR meeting in Prague on best practices to combat anti-Semitism, specifically as it relates to public discourse, was comprehensive, challenging, and timely—especially in light of turmoil in the Middle East which often corresponds with spikes in anti-Semitic hate,” Smith said.
Smith is on the Steering Committee of the Interparliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism, and authored the provisions of the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004 that created within the U.S. State Department the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. He is chairman of the House Human Rights Subcommittee, co-chairman of the Congressional Anti?Semitism Task Force, and an executive member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.