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Congress pressed on anti-Semitism

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 (JTA) — Jewish leaders are pushing the White House and Congress to take a firmer stance against European anti-Semitism. A group of German and American lawmakers heard Tuesday from Jewish leaders who expressed concern about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. The Jewish leaders also suggested ways to combat anti-Semitism in states that participate in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. “Many European Jews today feel more vulnerable, disillusioned and frightened than at any time since the Holocaust,” said Ambassador Alfred Moses, past president of the American Jewish Committee and a former U.S. ambassador to Romania. “I know from my personal experience that anti-Semitism is never far below the surface in Central and Eastern Europe.” The Anti-Defamation League presented a series of recommendations on combating the problem, including urging political leaders to speak out against bigotry, strengthening administrative, legal and monitoring instruments and using educational initiatives. “While the last century witnessed the most heinous results of bigotry unchecked, fortunately we also have witnessed in our lifetime powerful examples of how strong U.S. and German leadership have brought about dramatic change,” said Kenneth Jacobson, ADL’s associate national director. “America and Germany, each having learned painful lessons from their respective past experiences with the danger of bigotry, are uniquely positioned to lead the OSCE to a new level of activism against anti-Semitism,” he said. The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a government agency that monitors the OSCE and is made up of 18 U.S. lawmakers. The visit to Washington by members of the German Bundestag was a follow-up to a July session in Berlin on anti-Semitism. Moses noted that incidents of anti-Semitism have risen in Europe because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel’s ties to the United States and the momentum that right-wing groups have been gaining in some European countries. U.S. and German lawmakers signed a letter of intent to strengthen their work against anti-Semitism, use educational initiatives and urge other parliaments to follow their lead. “It shows the seriousness with which the American and German legislatures are addressing the issues of anti-Semitism,” said Mark Levin, executive director of NCSJ: Advocates on Behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia.

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