The United States is committed to fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination around the world. So said Special Representative to Muslim Communities Farah Pandith at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe High-Level Conference on Tolerance and non-Discrimination.
2009 saw a dramatic increase in anti-Semitism internationally. This has been documented in the U.S. State Department's human rights reports. In addition to an increased number of violent attacks against Jews and synagogues in Europe and elsewhere, 2009 saw growing incidents of harassment of Jewish children in their schools; desecration of Jewish institutions; and increasingly violent and virulent rhetoric in graffiti, as well as in various media.
In recent weeks, the world has seen criticism of Israeli government policies cross the line into anti-Semitism. "Natan Sharansky," said Ms. Pandith, "teaches us that anti-Israel sentiment crosses the line into anti-Semitism if Israel is demonized, delegitimized or held to a different standard than any other country."
The last year was also marred by wildly anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. This includes the irrational denial of the Holocaust by some leaders, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It includes Holocaust glorification, in which community leaders ask God to "finish the job" of the Holocaust. It also includes Holocaust relativism, where the genocide that was the Holocaust is minimized by being equated with large-scale acts of political violence, including decades of repression.
Stereotypes and prejudice towards Jewish communities persist around the world, which is why the O-S-C-E must continue to support anti-Semitism initiatives. The O-S-C-E will continue to monitor and combat anti-Semitism and all forms of intolerance and discrimination.
"We must work together," said U.S. special representative Pandith, "to ensure that all participating states implement O-S-C-E commitments on human rights and fundamental freedoms –- freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion –- as these are at the heart of our efforts to promote more tolerant, pluralistic societies."