New York, NY, February 18, 2004 … In response to the continuing surge in anti-Semitism in Europe and around the world, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) will convene an international conference on global anti-Semitism to be held in Rome.
The conference was announced today by Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, after he emerged from a series of meetings with Italian government leaders, including Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.
At a press conference held at Rome's Foreign Press Club, Mr. Foxman announced that ADL will hold an international conference on anti-Semitism in Rome, to be organized in cooperation with the Italian Foreign Ministry and the daily newspaper "Il Foglio." The conference will bring together religious leaders, government officials, Nobel Laureates and Jewish community representatives from across Europe and around the world.
"With the continuing attacks against Jews worldwide, the drumbeat of Jew-hatred emanating from the Muslim/Arab world, and ongoing efforts to rationalize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the source of violence against Jewish communities across Europe, there is a pressing need for world leaders to convene on anti-Semitism," said Mr. Foxman. "Once again, Italy and its leaders have shown their strong and effective leadership against anti-Semitism by agreeing to facilitate this important conference."
Mr. Foxman met with Prime Minister Berlusconi, Deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini, the Presidents of the Senate and the House of Deputies, Marcello Pera and Pierferdinando Casini, respectively, as well as with Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, Deputy Foreign Minister Margherita Bonniver and Piero Fassino, Secretary General of the Democractic Left opposition party. Talks centered on Italy's relations with the U.S., Israel and the Middle East.
At the Vatican, Mr. Foxman visited Archbishop John Foley, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and Father Norbert Hoffman, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission on Religious Relations with Jews. He was received by leaders of the Catholic Community of St. Egidio.
Mr. Foxman also expressed concern to Vatican officials over the potential for Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of the Christ" to fuel anti-Semitism.
He called on the Catholic Church to encourage the translation and international dissemination of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' guidelines for the production of Passion Plays.
The ADL leader also met with Jewish community leaders and attended a Police Academy ceremony honoring Giovanni Palattucci, an Italian policeman who died at Dachau in 1945 after saving thousands of Jewish refugees in northern Italy.