July 8, 2002, Berlin, Germany
I am honored to have the opportunity to participate in this special side session. But I am pained and troubled at the reason for doing so…the rising tide…the overt global explosion of the oldest hatred in history…anti-Semitism. Around the corner and around the world, hostile feelings toward Jews are the makings of an attitudinal Molotov cocktail. We already see its evidence in the flood of unspeakably vicious stereotypes and canards and hatred whipped up against Jews flooding the Arab world and encouraging those poisoned by that fanatic hatred to become suicide bombers and murderers of the innocent.
For more than 40 years, the Anti-Defamation League has been taking the pulse of anti-Semitism in America. Last month we revealed that a ten-year decline in Americans with anti-Semitic attitudes had been reversed and was now increasing, showing that a strong undercurrent of hatred against Jews persists in America. 17% of my fellow citizens…some 35 million adults…hold views of Jews that by acceptable measurable standards are unquestionably anti-Semitic. It was painful for us to note that 35% of our Hispanic neighbors…44% foreign born and 20% American born…were strongly anti-Semitic, together with 35% of African Americans. For the first time in all the years ADL has surveyed this problem, negative attitudes toward Israel and concern that American Jews have too much influence over U.S. Mideast policy helped to foster anti-Semitic beliefs. We have warned repeatedly that anti-Israel feelings are linked to anti-Semitism, and it is clear from this survey that anti-Israel sentiments are used in America to fuel, to legitimize and to rationalize anti-Semitism.
The hostile beliefs have led to hostile actions. Our audit of anti-Semitic incidents in the first five months of this year showed an 11% increase in the number of violent attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions. As the tragic disaster of September 11 and the Mideast conflict have transformed us as a nation, they have also triggered the anti-Semitism that was already there, but buried under the surface. It isn't buried any more.
While one anti-Semite anywhere in the world is one too many, there are indeed far too many on this continent. In the wake of the anti-Semitic violence that exploded in Europe in the past year or so, ADL felt it imperative to take the pulse here, and the report was issued only two weeks ago. The findings of our survey…conducted in the native languages of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany and the United Kingdom…countries where more than one million Jews live…are shocking. They show that the classical form of anti-Semitism has been joined by a new form fueled by anti-Israel sentiment…not dissimilar to what we found in America. But almost double the number of people in Europe, as compared with America, express hatred of Jews. 30% harbor a wide range of traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes. 45% believe Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country. 30% believe Jews have too much power in the business world. 39% believe Jews still talk too much about the Holocaust.
A majority of Europeans express concern about violence against Jews…but there is a sharp contrast, between how American leaders and citizens react and how European leaders and citizens react. Only 60 years after the Holocaust, European leaders and citizens seem largely disinterested when confronted with anti-Semitism. How many times must the world learn that silence…the sin of omission…is as dangerous as the sin of commission? How many times must the world learn that finding excuses like alleging political reasons for anti-Semitism encourages the haters and leads them to believe that their violent acts are condoned or at least tolerated?
I take this opportunity to respectfully remind this audience that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's own 1990 concluding document declares that all participating states will "unequivocally condemn" anti-Semitism and take effective measures to protect individuals from anti-Semitic violence. I take this opportunity to ask all member states to emulate what the German parliament did two weeks ago…unanimously pass a resolution that is a clear, unqualified condemnation of anti-Semitism in all its forms. The Bundestag's admirable vote demonstrates again that Germany has come to grips with its past. Combating anti-Semitism and all forms of prejudice must be a priority for all nations in all hemispheres. Stopping hate means stopping violence and terrorism. There cannot possibly be anything more important in our troubled world as we stand on the threshold of this new millennium.