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Cardin, Hastings new Helsinki chairs

The new chairmen of the U.S. Helsinki Commission have been active on behalf of Jewish causes. The chairmen, appointed this week by their respective congressional houses, are U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who is Jewish and has been a leader on pro-Israel causes; and U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), the leading pro-Israel voice in the Congressional Black Caucus, who most recently sponsored a resolution condemning Iran’s Holocaust denial conference. The commission, which monitors human rights compliance in Europe, is traditionally co-chaired by a member of the majority party in each house. Its most recent chairmen, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), also are close to the Jewish community. One recent focus of the commission has been reports of a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe.