Back to the Future; Renewed Anti-Semitism Is a Global Problem

Article excerpt


Anti-Semitism, one of the world's oldest hatreds, has resurged with a vengeance. Around the globe, Jews are being assaulted, some even murdered. Synagogues are being attacked. Jewish gravestones are being desecrated by the hundreds. Even the historical fact of the Holocaust is being questioned. The threat today is not existential. There is no room for complacency.

The increase in anti-Semitism is all the more disturbing because it is occurring not only in authoritarian societies where governments fan the flames of hatred to distract publics from their governments' shortcomings. Anti-Semitism also is on the rise in fully democratic countries where governments and civil society have admirable records of promoting tolerance and actively combating anti-Semitism.

According to the Community Security Trust in London, last year in the United Kingdom anti-Semitic incidents, defined as any malicious act aimed at Jewish people, organizations or property, rose 31 percent from 2005; the total number of incidents for 2006 was more than any other year since 1984, when statistics were first collected. In France, according to the European Jewish Congress, there were over 112 anti-Semitic attacks, a 45 percent increase from 2005. In all these cases, the governments are taking steps to combat the problem, yet more needs to be done.

Here in the United States, there was a reported 12 percent decline in anti-Semitic incidents in 2006. Even so, in just the last year there were attacks on synagogues in Chicago, Tarzana, Calif. and in North Miami Beach, Fla. In Seattle, Pamela Waechter was murdered and five others were shot in an attack at the Jewish Federation last July by a gunman incensed at Israel's war with Hezbollah.

Another category of concern, however, is the situation in Iran, where anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are state policy. The Iranian government held a Holocaust-denial conference in December; an Iranian newspaper offered cash prizes for the best cartoon mocking the Holocaust and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly threatened to "wipe Israel off of the map." Thisweek in Bucharest, Romania, delegations

from countries across North America, Europe and Eurasia will gather for a high-level conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki human-rights process, to develop strategies for combating this growing problem and other forms of religious and ethnic intolerance.

The U.S. delegation to the Bucharest Conference will be led by Republican Reps. …