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OSCE Conference on Anti-Semitism
Vienna, Austria, June 19 – 20, 2003

"We hope to have a meeting of the minds in Vienna to take the fight against anti-Semitism to a new level of intensity."

        -- Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League

To address the problem of anti-Semitism and its manifestations in Europe, Central Asia and North America, and the role of governments and civil society in promoting greater tolerance, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe convened a conference on anti-Semitism in Vienna on June 19 - 20, 2003. Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham H. Foxman is a Public Member to the U.S. delegation, headed by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The meeting brings together more than 350 delegates from 55 OSCE participating states and non-governmental organizations.

Now is the Time to Address Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism is surging in the world to an extent unprecedented since the end of World War II. As the 55 member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meet in Vienna, we hope that Europe will act against this hatred.

It is critical that this meeting is being held at this time and in this place. For centuries, Europe was the home of rabid anti-Semitism culminating in the Holocaust. It has taken far too long for Europeans to admit that the problem of anti-Semitism in Europe today is not a history lesson, but a current event.

The OSCE meeting is an opportunity for Europeans and Americans, Jews and non-Jews, to cut through the rationalizations that what is really going on is a critique of Israel's policies, and not anti-Semitism.

Europeans and Americans must come together at Vienna to denounce such activities. A common understanding should emerge that at the root of these anti-Jewish efforts is the same kind of extremist thinking that lies behind the international terrorism that is threatening our civilization.

Manifestations of this thinking include: blaming the Jews for committing the terror of 9/11; labeling Zionism, the National Liberation Movement of the Jewish people as racism, as was done in at the U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban in 2001; spreading Holocaust denial throughout the Middle East; supporting the deliberate murder of Israeli men, women and children, as well as targeting of Jews around the world; boycotting of Israelis by all kinds of international institutions.

These murderous and one-sided approaches are not directed at finding a fair and balanced solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which two states will live side-by-side in peace and security. They are assaults not only on Jews but on democratic values, modern society, and on the West. The current assault on Israel and Jews should be seen as a warning for Western democracy.

European governments and civil society have a chance in Vienna to recognize the need to join America at this time against this menace to us all. There are many practical steps that can be taken.

At an interparliamentary OSCE forum on Confronting and Combating anti-Semitism held in Washington, D.C., December 10, 2002, ADL issued a 10-point action agenda against global anti-Semitism and urged the OSCE to mobilize its member nations to take positive steps in their home countries. In testimony before the forum, Ken Jacobson, ADL Associate National Director, urged parliamentarians form the U.S. and Germany to broaden the alliance of nations willing to speak out against anti-Semitism and to utilize the OSCE to “turn bold recognition and understanding of the problem and its urgency into concerted, multilateral action.”

Above all, Europe must take seriously the ideology of anti-Semitism coming out of the Arab and Islamic world. They must denounce the deliberate targeting of Jews by terrorist groups, whether al-Qaeda or Hamas. They must denounce the vicious anti-Semitic material in the Arab press and educational systems, and call on Arab leaders to do something about it. They must understand that the Holocaust happened by the complicity, active and passive, of other Europeans.

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Additional Links and Resources
Europeans must act to stem anti-Semitism
Op-Ed by Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director
(New Jersey Jewish Standard, 6/27/03)
U.S. Mission to the OSCE Statement on Anti-Semitism, Delivered By Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director (PDF Version)
(Requires Acrobat Reader)
Grasping the root of assaults on Jews
(The Jerusalem Post, 6/22/03)
OSCE Conference Ends with Call to Action Against Anti-Semitism
OSCE Conference Web site
Includes updates and transcripts of speeches from Vienna
ADL's 10-point Action Agenda Against Global Anti-Semitism
ADL Survey of Five European Countries Finds One in Five Hold Strong Anti-Semitic Sentiment
Global Anti-Semitism: Selected Incidents Around the World in 2003
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