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U.S. at OSCE: Combat anti-Semitism with other hatreds

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. delegates to a conference on intolerance emphasized working jointly to combat anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim and other hatreds.

This week’s Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe conference on tolerance and non-discrimination, taking place in Kazakhstan, grew out of the umbrella body’s conferences on anti-Semitism that started in 2004.

In a symbolic gesture to the Obama administration strategy of holistically combating prejudice, Hannah Rosenthal, the State Department’s envoy on anti-Semitism, read prepared remarks about discrimination against Muslims in Europe, and Farah Anwar Pandith, the special representative to Muslim communities, outlined reports of a sharp increase in anti-Semitism in Europe in 2009.

"Stereotypes and prejudice towards Jewish communities persist around the world, which is why we must ensure continued support for the OSCE’s anti-Semitism initiatives," Pandith said. "In one OSCE-participating state Hannah recently visited, a government official she met with actually gave credence to a modern version of the medieval anti-Semitic blood libel lie, discussing an accusation that Jews kidnapped children to steal their organs."

Both Rosenthal and Pandith concluded that "Jews cannot fight anti-Semitism alone. Muslims cannot fight Islamophobia alone. Roma cannot fight — alone. The LGBT community cannot fight — alone. And the list goes on. Hate is hate, but we can overcome it together."

The George W. Bush administration, which established the anti-Semitism envoy office subsequent to congressional legislation, tackled anti-Semitism in a separate report; Rosenthal insisted that it be incorporated into the overall State Department human rights report.

Separately, the Anti-Defamation League and Human Rights First said in a joint report that 23 of the 56 member nations of the OSCE failed to live up to pledges made at past conferences.

The report released Tuesday "focused on key benchmarks for compliance by governments, such as collecting and publicizing hate crime data and ensuring that their data is disaggregated to properly identify the targeted groups," a statement said.

"What is clear from this analysis is that many OSCE governments are still resistant when it comes to responding to hate crimes and gathering data and making it public," Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, said in a statement.

The OSCE is a crisis management umbrella for Europe that  encompasses nations not only in Europe, but also in central Asia and North America.

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