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Israel Warns East Europeans About Rising Anti-semitism

February 15, 1991
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The Israeli government warned the Soviet Union and other Eastern European governments during the past year about outbreaks of anti-Semitism in their countries, the Israeli Cabinet secretary, Elyakim Rubinstein, said Wednesday.

Rubinstein told a session of the World Jewish Congress Executive that there has been a rise in anti-Semitism worldwide during the past year, but that efforts to combat it by governments and Jewish organizations have intensified.

Together with the WJC and other Jewish organizations, the Israel government runs a body to monitor and combat anti-Semitism around the world, which Rubinstein directs.

The WJC Executive met in an expanded format in Jerusalem this week in a show of solidarity with Israel. Jewish community leaders from 40 countries attended.

“Our government hasn’t been shy about talking to high officials in the Soviet government, including former Foreign Minister (Eduard) Shevardnadze, about rising anti-Semitism there,” Rubinstein said.

“We also raised this issue with the governments of Poland and Hungary. In cases like these, where the Jewish communities are not in a strong position, we have taken such direct approaches.”

He noted with approval that the Polish Catholic Church had recently circulated a statement condemning anti-Semitism. “They reached the conclusion that they should talk to their own people about the (anti-Jewish) myths that continue to haunt their society even when there are hardly any Jews there.”

The recent shift of the political pendulum in the Soviet Union, Rubenstein said, “has given more leeway to anti-Semitic forces, with the result that those leaders who fought anti-Semitism are being pushed aside.”

There has been an increase in anti-Semitism connected with the Gulf War, he said, adding that “one of the reasons Israel has kept a low profile on the war was because we didn’t want to be portrayed as warmongers. For example, the Le Pen journal in France has spoken of the ‘Jewish war’ in the Gulf.”

He said Israel has “failed to convince the U.S. government to put questions about anti-Semitism into the questionnaire on human rights that it sends out each year to all its missions and embassies.”

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