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Fighting Anti-Semitism

Rabbi Rafael Schaffer attends National Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations at the Holocaust memorial, Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012.

It is critical that anti-Semitism be challenged by government leaders, elected officials, and community and faith leaders.

Anti-Semitism is alive and well in the world, according to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner. He noted that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad refers to the Holocaust - the murder of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany - as a “lie” and to the Jewish state as a “tumor.”

Fighting Anti-Semitism
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In Venezuela, there have been numerous anti-Semitic statements in official media and by President Hugo Chavez himself. And in a range of Middle Eastern countries, editorial cartoons and articles are published depicting Jews as demonic figures, comparing Israeli leaders to Nazis, and denying or glorifying the Holocaust.

It is critical that anti-Semitism not only be monitored and reported but challenged by government leaders, elected officials, and community and faith leaders. Most recently, Austria’s president publicly condemned a politician for posting on his Facebook page a cartoon widely perceived to be anti-Semitic.

Another focus in the fight against anti-Semitism is young people. The values and opinions of the world’s youth are shaped at an early age and often through their textbooks. Unfortunately, there are still children in 2012 who are being taught hatred. “We need to redouble our efforts,” said Assistant Secretary Posner, “to challenge schools that inculcate hate and glorify violence and those who fund them.”

Law enforcement is also a means of combating anti-Semitism. The U.S. is training a wide range of foreign law enforcement agencies, which focus on crimes committed against vulnerable populations, including countries with embattled Jewish communities.

The U.S. is trying to appeal to the idealism of young people of many faiths who want the world they will live in to be less blighted by hate. Two years ago, the State Department launched a virtual campaign on Facebook called “2012 Hours Against Hate” to ask young people from around the world to give an hour of their time to serve someone who doesn’t look like them, live like them, or believe as they do.

Despite these and many other efforts, it is clear that anti-Semitism has not been vanquished. As Assistant Secretary Posner said, “We must brace ourselves for a long struggle. The fight against anti-Semitism is a marathon, not a sprint. In that spirit, let us work together and renew our commitment. . .to pursue justice and freedom everywhere.”