Washington, DC – House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) welcomed the release today of the first survey of anti-Semitic incidents worldwide to be produced by a State Department office dedicated to monitoring such events, which are on the rise.
“Today’s report provides evidence of a disturbing resurgence in anti-Semitism around the globe,” Berman said. “It takes note of everything from the desecration of sacred sites to taunts to physical attacks on Jews; the number of such incidents has steeply increased across Europe, Russia, the former Soviet states and even in Australia. Ugly anti-Semitic tracts, cartoons, and television dramas continue to spew from government-sponsored or controlled media across the Middle East. These, too, are documented in this wide-ranging report.”The report also notes a pernicious “new” anti-Semitism that cloaks itself in the guise of opposition to Zionism and/or the policies of the State of Israel. It manifest itself when political attacks on Israel’s policies veer into denials of the right of the State of Israel to exist; the use of stereotypical anti-Semitic symbolism to characterize Israel or its citizens or leaders; equating Israeli policies to those of Nazi Germany; or claims of responsibility of Jews worldwide for Israel’s policies.
“All too often, legitimate criticism of the State of Israel can veer into naked anti-Semitism characterized by vile hate speech,” Berman noted. “And all too often, it goes unchallenged. When hate speech arises, we should call it what it is – and do what can be done to stop it.”The State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, which this year produced the report for the first time, was created by the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004. This legislation was sponsored by the late Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), the committee’s former chairman, along with Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Senator George Voinovich (R-OH).
This year’s report was dedicated to Lantos, referring to him as “a leader of moral force and a champion of human rights.” Lantos was serving as the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman when he died in February.
Berman said, “Tom Lantos led a fierce fight for two years against entrenched bureaucratic interests within the State Department as he pressed to enact legislation to create a permanent office dedicated to documenting and fighting the global resurgence in anti-Semitism. It is only fitting that the report this year be dedicated to him. Tom was a Holocaust survivor – the only one ever elected to Congress -- and he recognized early the tragic reality of resurgent anti-Semitism. It is my sincere hope that this report will serve to focus our collective consciousness on defeating this threat to civilized life.”
To read the report, click here.