(JTA) — Rising anti-Semitism in Europe threatens not only Jews but overall European values, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said at a conference on anti-Semitism in Berlin.
The event, which concluded Thursday, was organized by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to mark the 10th anniversary of the first OSCE conference on anti-Semitism and its concluding declaration, which underscored that political events in the Middle East were no excuse for hate crimes.
That admonition of 2004 remains relevant today, Power said, adding that “robust steps must be taken” to combat the problem.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s foreign minister, confirmed at the conference that “bold and brutal anti-Semitism has shown its ugly face again” in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
While noting it is the right of all citizens of a democracy to protest, Power, who headed the U.S. delegation to Berlin this week, said demonstrations in Europe “increasingly feature vicious anti-Semitic rhetoric and, in some instances, even transform into anti-Semitic mobs.”
If leaders do not act to ensure the safety of their citizens, “they will provide Hitler with a posthumous victory of a ‘Judenrein’ Europe,” Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director and a member of the U.S. delegation to the conference, said in a statement.
Power urged European leaders to appoint high-level envoys to focus on anti-Semitism; pass hate-crimes legislation, and vigorously pursue and prosecute perpetrators; and uphold the clear distinction between legitimate political protest and anti-Semitism.
“[A] Europe where anyone feels afraid or endangered because of the actions, beliefs or speech of a neighbor is a Europe where everyone’s rights are at risk,” Power said.