Washington – The United States Senate approved legislation Thursday expressing support for the ongoing work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to combat anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and intolerance. United States Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) sponsored the legislation, S.Con.Res. 110.
The bipartisan measure was cosponsored by Ranking Helsinki Commission Member Senator Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT), and Commissioners Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Senator Russell D. Feingold (D-WI), and Senator Gordon H. Smith (R-OR).
“I applaud the leadership for taking up S.Con.Res. 110 and I am pleased the United States Senate will be on record in our fight against anti-Semitism and intolerance,” said Co-Chairman Campbell. “The Senate’s timely approval will bolster the ongoing work of the OSCE in confronting and combating these evils.”
Two years ago, Europe and North America experienced a profound increase in anti-Semitic attacks. Members of the Helsinki Commission and other Members of Congress worked diligently to move the OSCE and its participating States to take action against anti-Semitism.
A Helsinki Commission hearing in June examined how governments have responded to anti-Semitism in the OSCE region. The OSCE has also acted by convening two high-level conferences specifically on anti-Semitism, the most recent held in Berlin in April. Recognizing the ongoing problem of racism, xenophobia and discrimination throughout the OSCE region, the organization held two conferences to examine these issues, with a conference in Brussels concluding just last week.
“The latent, yet persistent, problem of anti-Semitism is one that cannot be ignored, but rather must be met head-on, with the full force and weight of elected leaders and government officials publicly denouncing acts of anti-Semitism and related violence,” added Campbell. “I hope the House of Representatives will take up its version before adjournment.”
U.S. Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) and Ranking Member Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) introduced companion legislation, H.Con.Res. 425, in May. The House and Senate resolutions were introduced after the Berlin OSCE Conference on Anti-Semitism, to ensure an active response by the U.S. Congress against incidents of anti-Semitism.
The resolutions urge “officials and elected leaders of all Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe participating states, including all OSCE Mediterranean Partner for Cooperation countries” to “unequivocally” condemn acts of anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, and discrimination “whenever and wherever they occur.”
The resolutions also call on the Bulgarian Chairman-in-Office and the incoming Slovenian CiO to “consider appointing” an individual to the post of “personal envoy.” Such a high profile position would help ensure “sustained attention with respect to fulfilling OSCE commitments on the reporting of anti-Semitic crimes.”
The measures urge all participating States to “forward their respective laws and data on incidents of anti-Semitism and other hate crimes to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) for compilation and provide adequate resources for the completion of its duties.” To date, approximately 20 of the 55 participating States have yet to make submissions to ODIHR.
The resolutions also urge OSCE participating States to support the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust of January 2000, and the work of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, in developing effective methodologies to teach the lessons of the Holocaust.