Experts testify in Congress on resurgent European anti-Semitism

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Twelve experts of varying religions and homelands urged the U.S. Congress to speak out against hate speech and anti-Semitism throughout the world, notably Europe.

The human rights subcommittee of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee held a two-hour hearing on Wednesday in which experts testified that anti-Semitism is resurgent, particularly in Europe.

The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), heard that anti-Semitism assumes the form of viral hate messages on the Internet, property damage to Jewish institutions, violent crimes to people and the rise of neo-Nazi parties in governments throughout the continent.

Speakers focused on Hungary, Greece and Sweden, but said it was important to counter the phenomenon wherever it appeared.

Many speakers directly linked acts of anti-Semitism to the rise of Islamism. Zudhi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, called it “self-evident that supremacists from within a particular faith community will create and exploit hatred towards another faith community.”

He added that Islamists utilize anti-Semitic imagery and demonize Jews “as a tool for their own ascension into power among Muslim majority communities and nations.”

Several speakers said that the pushback against any curtailment of Jewish ritual circumcision and kosher slaughter should be cast in religious terms rather than intellectual ones, so that the issues are not looked upon as animal or human rights issues.

Along with Jasser, speakers included Elisa Massimino of Human Rights First; Katrina Lantos Swett of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; Rabbi Andrew Baker of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe; Andrew Srulevitch of the Anti-Defamation League; Rabbi Yaakov Bleich, chief rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine; John Garvey, president of Catholic University in Washington; author Eric Metaxas; Tasas Fellegi, a former minister in the Hungarian government; Rabbi David Meyer, a professor at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome; and Willy Silberstein, chair of the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism.

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