At a conference in Vienna, members of the fifty-five-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have condemned anti-Semitism and pledged to take strong action to fight it. The meeting committed the O-S-C-E to monitoring anti-Semitic violence as a human rights and law enforcement issue. The conference was held in response to a worldwide surge in violence against Jews. “The fact that such a meeting is necessary,” said Daan Everts of the Netherlands, “is in itself deplorable. But we would be remiss not to recognize that this need still exists.”
Representing the U.S., former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani said, “Words do not suffice to turn the tide of anti-Semitism that is once again growing in Europe and other parts of the world.” As Mr. Giuliani recently pointed out in the New York Times newspaper, at one point in 2002, physical attacks against Jews in France were occurring at a rate of eight to twelve a day, with fourteen arson attacks on synagogues in a two-week period. And in Russia, signs reading, “Death to Jews,” were placed along highways and rigged to explode if anyone sought to remove them.
Anti-Semitism is one of the oldest and most pernicious forms of hatred in the world. Its most horrible manifestation was Nazi Germany’s systematic murder of six-million European Jews during the Second World War -- a campaign known as the Holocaust.
On a recent trip to Poland, President George W. Bush went to Auschwitz, site of one of the most notorious of the Nazi death camps. It is a place, said President Bush, “where evil found its willing servants and its innocent victims”:
“And the death camps still bear witness. They remind us that evil is real and must be called by name and must be opposed. And history asks more than memory, because hatred and aggression and murderous ambitions are still alive in the world.”
That means, in the words of Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, chairman of the Poland-Israel Association, “No tolerance for intolerance. . . . This is the only way of preventing history from repeating itself.”