The U.S. Helsinki Commission held a hearing on anti-Semitism, part of a recent congressional blitz on the topic.
The hearing Tuesday addressed difficulties in tracking anti-Semitism in Europe and heard from two officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a 55-member body that in recent years has focused on combating bias crimes in Europe.
Gert Weisskirchen, the top OSCE official on anti-Semitism, said he often had been obstructed in his attempts to assess whether OSCE member states were meeting commitments to combat anti-Semitism or even to track its occurrence. One problem, he said, was a lack of coordination.
On Feb. 5, the commission will hear from witnesses on anti-Semitism in the former Soviet Union and in the United States.
Helsinki Commissions are parliamentary bodies in nations that track compliance with human rights agreements.
The U.S. commission is now chaired by Democrats – U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland – and the two hearings are part of a recent push by both Democrats and Republicans to assume the mantle of combating anti-Semitism.
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Middle East Subcommittee, convened a hearing last week addressing censorship in the Arab world and how it spurs anti-Semitism. On the Republican side, Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-Fla.) introduced a resolution last week calling for the United Nations to take steps to prevent the expression of anti-Semitism at U.N. events.
On Tuesday, Reps. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Ron Klein (D-Fla.) introduced legislation aimed at assisting Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in tamping down anti-Semitic violence.