Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe: U.S. Helsinki Commission
Combating Anti-Semitism in the OSCE Region: Taking Stock of the Situation Today
Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism,
U.S. Department of State
Rabbi Andrew Baker,
Chairman in Office’s Personal Representative on Combating Anti-Semitism, OSCE
Director, Government and National Affairs,
National Conference on Soviet Jewry
Simon Wiesenthal Center
The Hearing Was Held From 10:00 To 12:00 in Room Number 2203 Rayburn House
Office Building, Washington, D.C., Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), CSCE,
Friday, December 2rd, 2011
Federal News Service
REP. CHRIS SMITH (R-NJ): The hearing of the Helsinki Commission will come to
order. And I want to welcome and thank, express thanks to our witnesses and
everyone for joining us at this very important hearing. Almost a decade ago,
in May of 2002, I chaired a Helsinki Commission hearing focused on the
horrifying spike in anti-Semitism making itself through much of the OSCE
Many of our witnesses today testified at that hearing, which put the issue of
combating anti-Semitism on the top of the OSCE’s agenda, resulting in OSCE
commitments on fighting anti-Semitism and a series of high-level annual
conferences on combating anti-Semitism, and even led to the creation of a
global network of parliamentarians united against anti-Semitism, the
inter-parliamentary coalition, the ICCA, of which I am on the steering
A lot of good has come out of this. It’s worth recalling some of the things
we’ve done, and it has been done as a team. Since the 2002 hearing, the OSCE
Parliamentary Assembly has annually passed declarations addressing
anti-Semitism and calling for concrete measures by all participating states in
At the high-level conference in Berlin in 2004, leaders from throughout the
OSCE region met to focus specifically on combating anti-Semitism, leading
participating states to commit, at the Sofia ministerial later that year, to
collect and report hate crimes data. In that same year, a tolerance unit with
a focus on anti-Semitism was established within the OSCE’s Office of Democratic
Institutions and Human Rights, or ODIHR, and the OSCE appointed a special
representative on combating anti-Semitism.
I’m very pleased, and I think it’s a great honor, that we have here today Rabbi
Andrew Baker, a critical force in the development of the Berlin conference –
and, matter of fact, one of those who wordsmithed much of that actual document,
especially when we hit some snags. He was there writing out language that was
incorporated into the final product. I’m very happy that you have – you are
here – and just laud you for the great work you have done for so long.
The OSCE is now equipped with a toolbox to combat anti-Semitism, ranging from
more than a dozen publications focused on addressing anti-Semitic hate crimes,
Holocaust remembrance, and now has a new training against hate crimes for law
enforcement program to assist participating states in their efforts.
The Anti-Defamation League and other NGOs that fight so hard to ensure that
human rights and the dignity of Jews worldwide will always and everywhere be
fully respected have also been an absolute critical part of this work. While
the OSCE has the potential to contribute mightily to this fight, it is only
truly effective when it works with these vital human rights defenders.
Efforts in the U.S. Congress and other parliaments have complemented this work
over the years. The Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism,
which held its most recent major conference in Ottawa last fall, has been
crucial – a crucial forum for parliamentarians to work across national
boundaries to address common problems of anti-Semitism.
In our own Congress, other members and I have worked hard to fight this
terrible hate through this commission, as well as through the Congressional
Anti-Semitism Task Force and other committees of Congress where this has been
taken up. It was also – it was a 2004 amendment of mine that created the State
Department’s office to monitor and combat anti-Semitism and the special envoy
And, of course, we’re very pleased to have the current special envoy, Hannah
Rosenthal, with us today. Ms. Rosenthal is doing an exemplary job, a fine job
in that position. I got to know her a little better at Ottawa, and I
appreciated her comments there and her comments worldwide as she travels and as
she speaks out boldly. And her presence is a reminder of our government’s true
commitment to fight against anti-Semitic hate.
Yet our work is far from done. Despite the efforts of many good people, mostly
in courageous NGOs, but also in our government and a few other governments,
despite the conferences, commitments, laws, training, monitoring, the measure
of our success is what happens on the ground. By most accounts, the despicable
evil of anti-Semitism has decreased in some parts of the OSCE region in recent
years, but remains at higher levels than in 2000. This is simply unacceptable,
and it’s why we are here today.
I’d like to also just note that one of our witnesses later on today will be
Mark Levin. And I would just note for the record that during my first term in
Congress, in 1982, Mark was encouraging many of us – as was the National
Conference on Soviet Jewry and others – to speak out on behalf of refuseniks,
so I responded to a letter that Ham Fish had sent around – the former member
from New York – engaged in what we call a special order at the end of the day –
of the legislative day. And Mark was in the gallery, came down. We had lunch
in follow up to that, and he invited me to join him in a special trip to Moscow
in January of 1982.
We spent 10 days in Moscow and Leningrad, met with refuseniks around the clock,
and for me, it was the primer – it was the eye-opener as to what anti-Semitic
hate in its most virulent form looks like. We met with great people, like Yuli
Kosharovsky, Dr. Lerner, who was one of the leading refuseniks of that time,
and heard their stories. And really, when you’re there in total immersion for,
like I said, the better part of 10 days in Moscow and Leningrad, you come away
a changed person.
And so I want to forever thank Mark Levin for inviting me, for his leadership –
because he’s still with it today, all these years, and has never stopped in his
fight. As have all of you – you are the long stayers, people who have been
absolutely committed and have just never given in. I’d like to now recognize
my good friend and colleague, Mr. Cohen, for any opening comments he might have.
REP. STEVE COHEN (R-TN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you for
scheduling this important hearing and for your important work over the years on
many issues concerning human rights, but also anti-Semitism in general, and for
having this distinguished panel that has done so much and has so much
knowledge. And they bring to us testimony that I’m eager to hear.
This is a – the OSCE really sprang from the rubble of the Second World War, and
the Second World War had as its base anti-Semitism and the Holocaust actions of
the German government – not that that was the entire reason for the Second
World War. I mean, Germany wanted to – über alles – but at the same time, they
had this way of bringing their people together by hating Jews. And the
Holocaust ensued, and concentration camps and deaths, horrific behavior.
It’s so appropriate that we look at what’s going on (with ?) this issue today
in the world. And it’s not just in the Middle East, where it is a significant
issue. But it’s also in Europe, and it’s frightening to think that in Europe,
where just 60-some odd years ago – 65, 66 years ago – they were firsthand
witnesses of the horrors of anti-Semitism, of religious prejudice, of
discrimination, of all types of awful human behavior.
That was just on this Earth 66 years ago, and yet it’s being replicated with
anti-Semitic actions in Europe. I think as we look at anti-Semitism, we look
at civilization, because until we can get along with each other and accept our
differences – whether they be religious or racial, sexual, gender identity or
whatever – we’re not going to do what we should be doing on the Earth that God
created and gave us, which is to help each other get through the time and enjoy
the time that we’re here.
And if we concentrate on the minimal differences that we have rather than the
commonality that we share, which is 99.7-8 percent the same, according to all
the studies we’ve had over the years – Human Genome Project – we should look at
those. Until we do, we’re not going to be the – have achieved our purposes on
Earth. So it’s important that we look at this issue, that we study it, we keep
an ever-mindful eye on it and try to do what we can to ward it off.
I’ve done it in my career, with the Holocaust Commission – one of the first in
the United States, in Tennessee that we started in 1984. And I saw to it that
it didn’t just teach about the Holocaust, which it does, but also teaches about
man’s inhumanity to man in all areas. It goes into the areas where we’ve had –
the Cambodians, and other areas where we’ve seen horrific conduct.
And we need more of that in our schools, more education about tolerance and
understanding. And we need more hate-crime enforcement, which we were
fortunate to pass in the Congress a couple of terms ago, where we’ve seen hate
crimes perpetuated against people in this nation as well as around the world.
But this nation is not immune to the horrors that we see.
And all you have to do is go to your local newspaper, and sometimes look at the
comments that are made on the newspapers’ websites, particularly if a Jewish
congressman is involved, and you’ll see anti-Semitism, with anonymity
protecting the bigots that use that as a way to attack people that have
different political thoughts than they. So Mr. Smith, Mr. Chairman Smith, I
thank you for having the hearing and I look forward to the testimony of our
REP. SMITH: Mr. Cohen, thank you very much. I’d like to now introduce our two
very distinguished witnesses, beginning with Hannah Rosenthal, who was sworn in
as special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism on November 23rd of ’09.
Sparked by the work and experience of her father, a rabbi and Holocaust
survivor, and her own experience studying to become a rabbi, Hannah Rosenthal
has led a life marked by activism and a passion for social justice, having
served as executive director of the Chicago Foundation for Women and Jewish
Council for Public Affairs. And without objection, yours and all of our
distinguished witnesses’ full resumes will be made a part of the record, which
– they are very extensive and very distinguished.
Next, we’ll hear from Rabbi Andrew Baker, who is director of international
Jewish affairs for the American Jewish Committee. Since 2009, he has served as
the personal representative of the OSCE chair in office on combating
A leading expert on anti-Semitism in Europe and Holocaust restitution issues,
he travels extensively to address issues impacting Jewish communities
worldwide, including anti-Semitic violence and Holocaust restitution issues,
promoting tolerance in the emerging democracies of Central and Eastern Europe,
and, of course, in the Middle East, which has gotten extremely – even worse,
obviously, most recently in Egypt. So I’d like to yield to Special Envoy
Rosenthal for which time – such time as she may consume.
HANNAH ROSENTHAL: Thank you very much. Chairman Smith, Mr. Cohen, thank you
for the invitation to testify before you today. Since its founding in 1976,
the U.S. Helsinki Commission has dedicated itself to addressing human rights
issues, including anti-Semitism. And for the past three decades, Chairman
Smith has provided unparalleled leadership in his efforts to combat
anti-Semitism and promote human rights.
As the special enjoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, I’m honored to be
able to present my findings on anti-Semitism in Europe, and I would kindly ask
that my full written statement be submitted for the record.
REP. SMITH: Without objections, so ordered.
MS. ROSENTHAL: More than six decades after the murder of 6 million Jews in
Europe, the countries of that region have made some important strides. Their
leaders have denounced new and old forms of anti-Semitism, and they have
forcefully stated, in unison, never again. But sadly, we’ve also seen many
setbacks within these very same countries.
Over the past two years, my staff and I have diligently reported on
anti-Semitic incidents throughout Europe, following and tracking developments
in old and new cases. We’ve observed six distinct trends. Though in my
written testimony today – all six are there –I want to draw your attention to
three trends in particular. The first is the persistence of traditional
anti-Semitism. Through my travels, I run into people who think anti-Semitism
ended when Adolf Hitler killed himself. Regrettably, it didn’t.
Anti-Semitism is not history; it is news. And it is alive and well. According
to reports by the governments of Norway, Germany, Italy, and the United
Kingdom, there is a disturbing increase in anti-Semitism. Since June, we have
seen desecrations to Holocaust memorials, synagogues, Jewish cemeteries in
Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Lithuania, and Poland.
We have heard modernized versions of the blood libel, where Jews are accused of
kidnapping children to steal their organs; conspiracy theories, like the
supposed Jewish control over the banking system or the media. They continue to
gain traction with some groups. And perhaps the most disturbing is the
physical violence that remains a problem. Just last week in Belgium, a
13-year-old girl was beaten by a group of girls, shouting “Shut up, you dirty
Jew, and return to your country.”
The second trend I want to mention is Holocaust denial. This form of
anti-Semitism is unfortunately espoused by religious and political leaders, and
is a standard on hateful websites and other media outlets. For example,
British denier David Irving continues to get public airings of his
anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
Petras Stankeras, a Lithuanian historian and former government official,
teaches that the Holocaust never happened. Bishop Williamson of the Secret
Society of Pius X regularly preaches Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic canards.
As the number of survivors, direct witnesses, and camp liberators drops, there
is a heightened sense of urgency in recording their stories and building
monuments and museums for future generations.
Ironically, while some deny the Holocaust ever happened, others glorify that it
did, and this accounts for a third trend, which we call Holocaust
glorification. The public display of Nazi ideology and the presence of
neo-Nazi groups is of special concern in Europe. This year, we have seen
numerous cases. In Austria, a politician resigned after “blood and honor”
tattoo, the motto of Hitler Youth, was seen in public.
At a soccer match in the Netherlands, soccer fans chanted “Hamas, Hamas, all
Jews be gassed.” A British politician was expelled from his party for shouting
“sieg heil” and giving the right-arm salute at a concert. And on Middle East
satellite television watched by tens of millions in Europe, Sheikh Qaradawi,
founder and president of the Dublin-based European Council for Fatwa and
Research, called for a new Holocaust to finish the job.
At the State Department, we monitor these trends and activities in 198
countries and territories. We report on them in two major annual reports – the
International Religious Freedom Report and the Annual Report on Human Rights.
As part of this process, I am developing a pretty major and aggressive training
initiative for the State Department employees, so that they can better monitor
what is happening in their countries and be sensitized to the various forms of
Of course, it’s not enough to study and monitor these deeply troubling trends.
It is critical that we act to reverse them. And to do that, we can’t just
preach to the choir, so to speak. We have to join in partnership with non-Jews
in condemning it. To change the culture of hate to one of tolerance, we have
to continue building bridges among different ethnic and religious groups. We
have to continue working with opinion leaders in government, civil society, and
And the State Department is doing that in a number of ways. We sponsor teacher
training on the Holocaust. We provide training to foreign law-enforcement
officials that cover hate crimes and crimes toward vulnerable groups. And we
use old and new technologies to communicate with the public about human rights
and tolerance and democracy. But we also have to think outside the box, and I
want to note two specific examples.
First, to combat Holocaust denial, I accompanied eight leading imams, two of
which had been Holocaust deniers, to Dachau and Auschwitz camps. When we
arrived at Dachau, the imams, who clearly knew very little or nothing about the
Holocaust, were so overwhelmed by what they saw in Dachau, they immediately
went down to the ground in prayer. And that was in front of the sculpture
commemorating the 6 million Jews who had been exterminated.
All the passers-by stopped in their tracks – the docents and the tourists – and
they were recognizing that this was a historic moment. Following the emotional
visit to Auschwitz, all eight imams produced a statement strongly condemning
Holocaust denial and all other forms of anti-Semitism, and they’re now urging
their colleagues and schools to join in the statement. They’re also planning
trips for their youth to bear witness and to bear the burden of the reality of
A second example took place at the February OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Along
with my colleague, Farah Pandith, the special representative to Muslim
communities, we launched a virtual campaign called 2011 Hours Against Hate.
Using Facebook, we asked young people around the world to pledge an hour or
more of their time to help or serve someone who didn’t look like them, pray
like them, or live like them.
At the time, our goal was to get 2,011 hours pledged. To date, we have over
16,000 who have actually gone online and pledged time. And we have had dozens
of countries already inviting us to come to their country and incorporate 2011
Hours Against Hate in their efforts. Last week, I met with the Olympic
committee that’s trying to figure out a way to incorporate the campaign in next
year’s summer games.
So while I fight anti-Semitism, I’m also keenly aware that hate is hate.
Nothing justifies it – not economic instability and not international events.
When history records this chapter, I hope it will reflect on our efforts to
build a peaceful, fair, and just world, where people defend universal human
rights and dignity.
The Jewish tradition tells us you are not required to complete the task, but
neither are you free to desist from it. Together, we must confront and combat
the many forms of hatred in our world, and in this vein, Mr. Chairman, I look
forward to working with you. And I’m happy to answer any questions. Thank you.
REP. SMITH: Thank you very much, Special Envoy Rosenthal, for your passion and
the comprehensiveness of your effort. It is extraordinary. I’d like to now
yield to Rabbi Baker – whatever time you would like to consume.
RABBI ANDREW BAKER: Chairman Smith, thank you – thank you very much. Thank
you, Representative Cohen, for being here. I too have a fuller testimony in
written form, but will try to provide an abbreviated version here now.
REP. SMITH: Without objection, your full statement, and anything you would
like to add to the statement for the record, will be made a part of the record.
RABBI BAKER: Thank you. Enormous appreciation has to be expressed to you
personally, Representative Smith, and to, really, this commission, which has
spearheaded efforts to understand and to combat anti-Semitism in Europe. A
decade ago, at the immediate aftermath of the ill-fated U.N. conference in
Durban, we sought effective means to alert the public to the resurgence of
anti-Semitism in Europe, which included a dramatic increase in attacks on
Jewish targets, frequently triggered by events in the Middle East.
We also witnessed the beginnings of what would become a new problem of
anti-Semitism in public discourse, and we turned to you. We turned to this
commission. It was the Helsinki Commission that pushed and prodded a reluctant
diplomatic bureaucracy here in Washington to press the OSCE to take up this
problem. Much to the surprise of some of those skeptics, a first OSCE
conference on anti-Semitism took place in Vienna in 2003 – as you indicated, a
seminal follow-up conference and declaration in Berlin in 2004.
We saw, as well, commitments by governments to monitor and collect data on
anti-Semitic and other hate crimes, to promote Holocaust education and
effective legislation. That was followed by the establishment of a department
on tolerance and nondiscrimination at ODIHR, at further conferences and expert
meetings, including the conference in March where you were present in Prague,
focusing on anti-Semitism in public discourse.
These efforts, as you indicated, also included the appointment of a special
envoy of this personal representative of the chair in office on combatting
anti-Semitism, a position which I am honored to hold.
My message today to you is a simple one: The problem remains, and we still
need your help. The Prague – and I’d like to sort of go through thematically
on several of these issues, first being anti-Semitism in public discourse.
That Prague conference itself was a recognition that this is one of the most
difficult current challenges we face. Opinion surveys in many European states
reveal anti-Jewish sentiments are still held by significant numbers of the
population. These percentages may fluctuate over time; they are certainly not
uniform from country to country. But the overall picture remains a distressing
one, and it has direct and immediate consequences for local Jewish communities.
While governments still fall short in monitoring and reporting physical
incidents of anti-Semitism, fewer still have any systematic process of
monitoring and recording, let alone responding to, incidents on the Internet or
in the media. Governments can and should do much more, and in the interim,
practical steps can be taken to help civil society groups develop the capacity
to do their own monitoring.
Participants in Prague stress the importance of political and community leaders
responding loudly and swiftly as a way of fostering a taboo culture when it
comes to anti-Semitism. In the area of Holocaust education, this has long been
identified as an important contribution to combating anti-Semitism, and it is
among the commitments that participating states made at that OSCE conference in
Berlin in 2004.
We should bear in mind that even where the subject is included in secondary
school curricula, that still may mean only a day or less over the course of the
entire school year. And there are also special challenges when teaching the
subject. Some students from immigrant Arab and Muslim communities have voiced
resentment or sought to bring the Middle East conflict into the discussion,
which draws attention away from the subject itself and really subverts its
intention. Some governments have recognized this problem and sought, in some
cases, creative ways to deal with it.
In the area of Muslim-Jewish relations, which we must recognize is critical to
the evolution of these problems in the last decade, when the EUMC conducted its
survey on anti-Semitism in European Union countries in 2004, it revealed that a
new and growing source of anti-Semitic incidents could be traced to Arab and
Muslim communities. This remains a matter of concern and is still reflected in
that available data that disaggregates these things. In some cities or in some
neighborhoods in Europe, visibly identifiable Jews – that is to say, those in
Orthodox garb or wearing Jewish symbols – may well be fearful of physical or
verbal attack when they are on the streets in certain neighborhoods.
Obviously, enhanced security measures and more rapid and serious responses to
complaints provide some relief to these problems.
More and more countries are developing educational programs to promote
tolerance, to combat racism and xenophobia; and of course, they should be
commended for doing so. But I have found in conversations with European Jewish
leaders that there are also some words of warning: such general programs do
not necessarily address the problem of anti-Semitism when it is stemming from
individuals who themselves may also be victims of racism or discrimination.
There is a special problem with the demonization of the state of Israel. It
has become almost commonplace to find mainstream media coverage of the Middle
East conflict, and particularly in Western Europe, demonizing Israel. It is
manifest in news, in cartoons, and in commentary. Some observers have
described this as a new form of anti-Semitism, but it also contributes to
prejudice against Jews who are seen as Israel’s friends, supporters, or
surrogates. We also see that the term Zionist is increasingly being used in a
pejorative way, and frequently substitutes for Jew in written or oral
In 2005, the EUMC adopted a working definition of anti-Semitism. It provided
an overall framework, but it went, as well, to provide specific examples of how
anti-Semitism can manifest itself with regard to the state of Israel. It was
endorsed by parliamentary conferences in London and Ottawa. The State
Department special envoy sitting next to me here has adopted it for her own
work and analysis.
And I share it and recommend its use when I travel in my OSCE capacity. But it
still meets with some opposition, including from the EUMC’s successor
organization, and thus it bears repeating whenever possible.
Security: Despite their small numbers, European Jewish communities have
shouldered an outsized burden in providing security for their members and their
institutions. From the 1970s, some have been and remain targets of
international terrorism. The corrosive impact of this increased anti-Semitic
rhetoric in more recent years has meant that synagogues, religious schools,
community centers and cemeteries face physical attacks ranging from graffiti to
So community leaders, in turn, must decide how much of their limited resources
can be diverted from educational and religious needs to provide for their own
protection. At its essence, it restricts the Jewish community’s ability to
exercise the full freedom of religious practice, a bedrock principle of the
Let me raise something that may at first seem a very particular issue, and that
is the efforts to ban religious slaughter – essentially, kosher meat. A
growing number of countries have adopted these laws, which require the stunning
of animals before they are slaughtered, thus effectively banning kosher
slaughter, ritual slaughter. Jewish communities have adapted by importing
But discussion of this topic, at least during OSCE visits I had this year in
the Netherlands and in Switzerland – in the Netherlands, where a law is being
debated, and in Switzerland, where such a law was imposed a century ago –
reveal a more troubling situation. The Dutch legislation is spearheaded
primarily by animal rights advocates. It’s received support from nationalist
MPs who may believe, although I think they’re mistaken in this case, that this
law would also prohibit halal meat to all Muslims in the country.
Meanwhile, Dutch Jewish leaders are cautious in marshaling the arguments in
opposition. They’re reluctant to assert the basic principles of religious
freedom, which they believe, frankly, would not have popular appeal.
In Switzerland, even government officials acknowledge that their law, coming as
it did in the wake of the Dreyfus trial in the 1890s, was anti-Semitic by
intent. They say, or they have told me, it’s even likely that Swiss courts
would respond positively to an appeal to overturn it. But successive Jewish
community leaders have elected not to do so.
They long ago accommodated themselves to the ban with imported meat from nearby
France, and they have told me that they believe challenging it could generate
an anti-Semitic backlash. Better, then, to keep a low profile. Now, this is
understandable, but surely it is a very outdated prescription for averting or
Let me turn now to the role of the OSCE and this commission. As you’ve
indicated in your opening remarks, there has been significant progress in
focusing the OSCE to address the problem of anti-Semitism and in educating
people to its unique manifestations and its stubborn persistence. Monitors
have generally recorded a decline in anti-Semitic incidents since early 2009,
but we are still far, far higher than the baselines of previous years.
We also know that turmoil in the Middle East could again trigger a new wave of
incidents, and it is still far from clear what repercussions there might be if
Europe’s economic crisis still worsens. The U.S. and the Helsinki Commission
have been the primary driving force to keep the OSCE focused on this problem of
anti-Semitism, a necessary and constant reminder that it is still with us, and
that it can always again turn deadly.
When Secretary of State Clinton and the U.S. delegation take their seats at the
OSCE ministerial meeting in Vilnius next week, I very much hope that they will
include this message in their remarks. In closing, Mr. Chairman, let me pay
respects to – I know he was a good friend of yours and ours – Ambassador Steve
Minikes, who died earlier this fall.
It was, in significant measure, due to his personal efforts that there was that
first conference, and the important follow-up conference and declaration in
Berlin and then later in Cordoba. You know, I still vividly recall, one
evening early on in this process, sitting with him at his residence in Vienna.
And he pulled out of a pile of items a small postcard with a handwritten
message in pencil.
It was sent to him – it was sent to him 60 years ago by his grandmother, with a
very benign message to her grandson, simply saying everything was OK; she was
fine. But as he pointed out, the postmark belied that message. It was sent
from Theresienstadt. And shortly thereafter, his grandmother was deported to
Auschwitz and to her death.
We could understand why this was so personal to him. But I think in sharing
that, it was also a lesson – it was also a message never to forget where
anti-Semitism in Europe once led, and to be vigilant now and in the future.
Thank you very much.
REP. SMITH: Rabbi Baker, thank you very much for your leadership. Very, very
eloquent statement today, which gives us much to act on. The reason for this
hearing isn’t just to receive information. It’s to give us the guidance on
this commission, and by extension, the Congress – both House and Senate – a
blueprint for where we should go from here. And both of you have done that
very, very well today.
Ms. Rosenthal, in your trends that you articulated, you talked about Holocaust
relativism. And Shimon Samuels, Dr. Samuels, makes a very similar and very
strong point in his testimony, and talks about, in Eastern Europe, Baltics, and
the Ukraine, seemingly – seemingly innocent conflation of the Holocaust with
Stalinist atrocities – all of this, you know, this sense that the Holocaust was
not an absolute unique, horrific historic event that stands out in time
Could you perhaps speak a little bit further about that? Because it seems to
me – it becomes a very useful way of downgrading the atrocities that occurred
during that period, during the Holocaust. Not to trivialize any other terrible
set of atrocities, but it was unique. It was an effort to wipe Jews off the
face – certainly, of Europe, if not the face of the earth. Had Nazism
prevailed worldwide, certainly, that was a final solution contemplated. So if
you could speak to that, if you would, and perhaps Rabbi Baker.
MS. ROSENTHAL: Yes, Holocaust relativism, obfuscation, and whatever other word
we want to use – we see it in a lot of places. Some of it has to do with
trying to cloak it into honoring people who fought communism and the Soviets,
without any historical context on what else was going on under the Nazi regime.
It’s very, very problematic.
I just came back last week from Estonia, where we were encouraging the
government to move ahead in prosecuting a Nazi war criminal that remains
unprosecuted. And I had the opportunity to talk to many people while I was
there. And I asked about the rally that occurs annually of the Waffen-SS.
The young people in Estonia that I met pulled me aside after the leader of the
Jewish community – this sounds very much like what you were talking about,
Rabbi Baker – was saying, everything’s fine. We’re even invited to the rally.
Don’t worry about it. The young people pulled me aside and said they’re very
concerned. They’re very concerned when they see anyone who honors anything
Nazi, and that increasingly, young people are attending this rally. So this is
something I needed to follow up with, with the foreign minister’s office and
the prime minister’s office.
There are parades of Waffen-SS that are cheered on in other parts of Europe,
and it’s very problematic. Also, we see increases in not just the number of
people in a neo-Nazi group, but a proliferation of neo-Nazi groups and websites
and hateful platforms that are being used.
In no way do I want to indicate that I think that those platforms should be
censored, I want to be clear, but it isn’t good enough to protect free speech
if we’re not condemning the bad speech. And so we need to call on people in
civil society, in the media, in government, religious leaders, to immediately
and strongly condemn when those events or that rhetoric occurs.
REP. SMITH: Thank you.
RABBI BAKER: If I could supplement that with a couple of comments. It has
become a given that Holocaust education is useful, not only in combating
anti-Semitism, but promoting climate of tolerance and appreciation for
difference. And I wouldn’t deny that. But I think the way it is sometimes
employed should be cause for some caution and concern and a special focus. In
more and more cases, Holocaust education is being infused with a human rights
Again, nothing wrong with that: There are obviously general lessons of man’s
inhumanity to man that come from looking at the Holocaust. But sometimes,
those general lessons can almost lead to what we would recognize as a kind of
perversion of its essential historical message.
There was one film produced a couple of years ago showing, kind of, a day in
the life at the Mauthausen concentration camp. It showed a man with his son
walking through the camp and the exhibits, and then writing some comments in a
guest book before he left. And after he left, the camera focused in on these
remarks, and his message was, well, now Israel should understand what its
treatment of the Palestinians is all about. So perhaps he had a human rights
lesson that he derived from that visit. But if that lesson was one that should
teach us to be concerned about the presence of anti-Semitism today, I think it
Secondly, and it was also touched on, there has become, certainly with positive
motives, an interest in elevating and understanding of the sufferings under
communism, of what that meant in Central and Eastern Europe. And by the way,
Jews in these communities themselves suffered disproportionately under
But in some places, it has become a kind of competition. And even at times,
equivalency is being drawn between what took place under communism and what
happened during the Holocaust. The term genocide is frequently used, and even
misused, in this regard.
By the way, I noticed in one of the draft documents for the ministerial
declaration on tolerance – where, in the past, these declarations have spoken
of the importance of Holocaust education, we now find it’s added Holocaust
education and education of other genocides. Again, not to diminish that
importance, but the way they have become linked together in this, I don’t
think, is a helpful step.
REP. SMITH: Well, as you know, Rabbi Baker, that was from the very start part
of the problem we faced within the OSCE. Some of the delegations, especially
the Dutch, immediately wanted to – after the Vienna, and certainly after the
Berlin conference – wanted to just merge everything. And when you merge
everything, you lose that specific focus that is absolutely critical.
So let me just ask you, with regards to the Lithuanian chairmanship – chair in
office, I should say – and now that the baton’s being passed to the Irish, do
you sense, maybe, a little assessment – how well, how poorly did they do,
honestly? The issue of justice fatigue, is it perhaps showing itself here? I
find, you’ll recall, when we first tried to – everything that’s being done in
the OSCE, we first did in the Parliamentary Assembly, and then try to mirror it
and to offload it, and have them take the baton.
We had a coalition of the willing that Gert Weisskirchen and I put together
right here in the building; that was, like, pulling teeth to get other heads of
delegation to join us. We only had a half a dozen other delegations that
joined us, and the others kind of, like, said, yeah, we’re not against you.
But they certainly didn’t – weren’t robustly for us in combating anti-Semitism.
That kind of changed, I think, and changed for the better over time.
But it seems to me that, you know, the status quo – given what’s happening in
Egypt, which is a potential huge game-changer, all to the negative, with the
elections that are occurring. The ultra-ultra party has about 15 percent of
the votes, and the ultra party – the Muslim Brotherhood, which I am very
frightened will take things in a very, very poor direction – not that the SCAF
has done a good job, nor Mubarak, but it’s all a matter of relative – you know,
things could get much worse.
I’m not sure the Parliamentary Assembly or the OSCE really realizes that we’re
on the cusp of an even worsened situation, because we know that anti-Semitism
often tracks what happens in the Middle East anyway. Egypt is a partner, as
part of the Mediterranean countries, and they are on the brink, I think, of
going the way of Iran. And I hope that’s not true.
Many of us, with the foreign aid bill that will be coming up shortly – I know
Senator Leahy has spoken eloquently about this – you know, we want to condition
U.S. aid based on the treaty with Israel, based on how well the Coptic Church
is treated, which has become a very real canary in the coal mine because they
have seen an accelerated attack on churches and individuals of that faith.
So I think we are – you know, status quo is not enough, just continuing as we
are. Again, how well do you see the Irish doing? Are they showing the right
kind of commitment? How well did the Lithuanian chair in office do? But I
think we’re on the brink of a significantly worsened situation vis-à-vis
anti-Semitism, which means we’ve got to ratchet up our combating of this
RABBI BAKER: Well, look, over the years – and I go back a long time, in my
American Jewish Committee role, with Lithuania, a discussion of its history and
the restitution issues and the like – but I have to say, during this year,
under their chairmanship, they have been fully supportive –
REP. SMITH: Good.
RABBI BAKER: – beginning with my efforts to secure their support for that
conference that took place in Prague on anti-Semitism in public discourse. I
think in some circles that was viewed as somewhat controversial. And some of
the governments you mentioned, in the past, you know, might have had troubles
with it, but the Lithuanians were certainly supportive of it.
To fast-forward, even, to these days – as you know, beginning on Sunday in
Vilnius will be a civil society meeting, organized by ODIHR, drawing NGOs from
Mediterranean partner states. I was personally troubled when I first saw the
initial drafts of this conference. Again, it was prepared in Warsaw by ODIHR,
focused on electoral reform, good governance, and so on. But absent in that
draft was any reference to the tolerance agenda, which, as you’ve indicated, is
obviously a critical one – and if anything, it must be seen as even more
critical as we look at the current election results in Egypt. I have to say,
in pushing to see that it would be included, the Lithuanians were supportive of
this. And now, it will at least be a part of that conference, although a side
event, so not fully integrated into it.
But it seems to me that the OSCE provides a real opportunity because of the
partnership relationship with these countries, because of the special tradition
of the OSCE of NGOs and governments sitting together at the same table, to try
and take some of that and bring it to bear on the changes going on there.
I have to say that some of the same governments or representatives that posed
problems to us early on in this process no longer do, I mean, although others
may be less helpful. Again, I think critical is the role of the U.S. here.
And sometimes, perhaps, even U.S. representatives, whether in Vienna or here in
Washington, are not so mindful of this history and maybe fall a bit short, not
out of, I think, any ill motive, but just not realizing not critical that is,
that if you’re going to accomplish something, you have to have a few
governments that are really championing it. Lithuania alone, as a chairman, is
not able to shoulder the full burden.
So I think, again, when the U.S. delegation or when the department at State
hear from you, that certainly helps focus the attention, and it can perhaps
move this forward. I think, as you identified in a critical point, one of the
things – and I’ve raised it when I could – the reality that much of the
anti-Semitic material that you find today, at least in Muslim and Arab
communities in Europe, is imported from the Middle East, from some of these
partner states. So it is a problem there that finds its way into Europe.
Finally – and I think it bears importance for what develops in these emerging
democratic societies, in Egypt and Tunisia and elsewhere – most of them have a
history of Jewish life in these countries, even though those communities today
may be small or almost nonexistent. And yet, how they deal with that piece of
their Jewish history can be very revealing as to how open they will be as a
tolerant society and treatment of minorities that are there today. We saw
that, in a way, in Eastern Europe 20 years ago. How these countries dealt with
their Jewish past told us something about where they were going.
And I think that’s an important opportunity. In fact, it was not easy, but I
managed to encourage and find, then, a place for representatives of Egyptian
Jews who have lived in Europe since their departure in the ’50s and ’60s to
participate in this civil society conference in Vilnius. At least new Egyptian
NGOs, civil society leaders should have an understanding, a direct feeling that
Jews were also, at one time, part of their society.
MS. ROSENTHAL: I would only add – first, on the question of Lithuania’s
leadership, I had put, when I first came into this job two years ago, Lithuania
as a priority country because of press and Jewish community remarks and all.
And what has happened in these two years, in large part due to Rabbi Baker and
our fabulous ambassador, Anne Derse, in Lithuania, we’ve seen amazing things
happen in Lithuania, including Holocaust education teacher training. We have
seen the compensation bill passed. We have seen rededication of important
monuments and recognition of the Ponar (sp) killing fields.
And just last week, Lithuania – the foreign minister and the prime minister
held a conference on totalitarianism and anti-Semitism, and it was all about
anti-Semitism, so that comparing and not trying to get into dueling
victimhoods, they are very sensitive to it, and I think that is reflected in
how they lead whatever endeavor they’re doing.
How can OSCE improve? What can we hope will be better? Well, I’m kind of
stunned to realize how, in 2004, everyone committed to doing intensive
reporting – you know, investigations and reporting, and how few do. Of the 56
countries, 20 claim they collect data, and only four sent it in. Whatever the
barrier to that is, we should use our leadership and effort to make sure that
that’s happening, because to quote you, Mr. Chairman, you can’t fix it if you
can’t name it. And that becomes, I think, fundamental to something that OSCE
I have great hopes about Ireland. I, last year at this time, was in Ireland
for a conference, and this was the first conference I’d ever heard of like this
that was totally focused on Holocaust denial. And so I think that there’s
great promise. But we have to admit that, where people have made agreements
with countries – participating countries have made an agreement, some of those
have not been fulfilled.
As to Egypt and what’s happening in the so-called Arab Spring, I just want to
tell a completely different story, and that is – and I was able to communicate
this to the government of Egypt – Jews have lived in Egypt for thousands of
years. And from all records, this was the first year that they feared they
could not go to synagogue for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the two high holy
days, to pray. Our embassy was very helpful in, you know, facilitating it.
But what’s happening there for religious minorities has people very afraid.
You have definitely called out what we all fear could be the bad outcome of a
transition. I don’t expect the transition to be smooth, but I have to remain
optimistic that ultimately, the people who took to the streets because they
wanted basic freedoms, that they will prevail. But when I hear that thousands
of years of tradition were stopped this year because of fear, it’s – it was
REP. SMITH: Can I just encourage you, if you would, to encourage the secretary
of state to designate Egypt as a “country of particular concern” for all that
you just mentioned, for the accelerated attacks on all minority religious,
including the Coptic Church? I have chaired two hearings on the Coptic Church,
and especially this new and horrific abuse whereby – and I don’t want to
deviate too much, but they’re literally abducting Coptic Christian girls who
are teenagers and then forcing them to become Muslim, and then, at age 18,
putting them into a marriage that is a coerced marriage.
We had the former ODIHR – Michele Clark, ODIHR number-two on human trafficking,
testified at our hearing just a few months ago – who said, it’s not a matter of
allegations; it’s a matter of reality and we need to recognize it. And it
seems to me that CPC status, which the international religious commission has
recommended anyway that Egypt be so designated, carries with it the potential
of at least 18 separate actions that can be taken by the U.S. government,
including denial of certain types of aid – and military aid is something that
needs to be considered. And I know the Senate and House are looking at that
even as we talk on the – on the continuing resolution or omnibus that will
finally emerge before we close down for this year.
CPC status can be done anytime. There is no – and it seems to me that the
relevant issues on the ground have so shifted that, if not now, when? This
would be the time. So please take that back, and especially in light of what
you just said about the fear factor that is – that is palatable for people who
want to go to synagogue.
MS. ROSENTHAL: I’ll be glad to – (inaudible).
REP. SMITH: (Inaudible.) Thank you.
REP. COHEN: Thank you. We have votes coming up pretty soon, so I’m going to
be real brief. But, you know, the problem is great and it continues, and
that’s sad. But at the same time, there’s some good things, I think,
happening. When I was in Berlin this summer – and it might not have been that
new, but it was new to me, because I hadn’t been to Berlin for about 15 years –
I was very impressed with the Holocaust Memorial and the work that was
underneath the ground there, underneath the memorial; the Jewish Museum; and
the designation of where Jewish homes were in the neighborhood near the new
synagogue. And I think there are a lot of Jewish people emigrating to Germany,
as I understand it. So there is some positive things happening.
I wondered what other positive signs there are in Europe or other places of
education, understanding and renewal of Jewish communities in the old – in
MS. ROSENTHAL: I think that we’re seeing it happen in many places. Warsaw is
in the process of building an incredible Jewish museum. Lithuania has a
tolerance center that is not just about the Holocaust and the elimination of
most of the Jews of Lithuania, but the rich history that was there.
We’re funding a problem called Centropa that actually teaches teachers how to
have students learn about how Jews lived and the contributions that were made
by the Jewish communities when they were there, or focused on how they lived
and how – and hope – with the hope that people will want to reinvigor that
memory and, hopefully, a future for Jewish communities rather than just
focusing on how Jews died.
And then we see very interesting things happening where non-Jews are getting
fed up with some of the things that are happening. And so, in Malmo, Sweden,
which was identified – you know, like, half the Jews were leaving because of
harassment, and they didn’t want their children to experience this – where
there’s a very new organization of the last few months – it’s called Young
Muslims Against Anti-Semitism (sp) – where they’re going into the schools and
saying, we need to be working together; hate is hate and we want to stand up
for the Jewish students who are feeling harassed rather than having the
families feel they have to leave. So there’s some goo- news stories that are
happening. And I appreciate all of the baby steps that are occurring.
REP. COHEN: And on the other hand – and maybe Rabbi Baker could take this one
– who are the bad guys? Who are the worst ones in the stands and in Europe
that might make overtly or even, you know, lightened anti-Semitic remarks?
RABBI BAKER: Well, you know, first a comment just a little bit on your first
question or view. Look, Germany, in many ways, is – perhaps it’s ironic, but
has become the example we want to shine and cheer with other countries in terms
of how it confronted its own past. You saw this reflected in Berlin in the
memorials that you have there. And obviously, it has been an open door to Jews
from parts of the former Soviet Union, making it the largest-growing Jewish
community in the world. It also, obviously, came to terms with much of the
material claims for losses during the Holocaust.
The reality is that in all of these much smaller communities in Eastern and
Central Europe, many people two decades ago thought, with the fall of
Communism, those communities would disappear. People would leave. They’d
build new lives in America, in Israel or whatever. The fact is that they’ve
all remained. The numbers may be small, but there are wonderful stories of
revival and even renaissance, I think, in almost all of these countries.
But the reality is, it’s not as though if there are arrows going up, there are
not also arrows going down. In every place, there are other forces that have
come forward. In some of these countries, it has been a kind of romance, a
rehabilitation of the era of that fascist past. We’ve seen elements of it in
Slovakia, in Romania, in Hungary. You have, in a number of these countries,
still or developing significant right-wing nationalist parties. You see this
in Hungary with the Jobbik party. We see it in Bulgaria with a party there.
They draw on antagonisms toward minorities – frequently Roma, but often folding
in anti-Semitic elements, a romance, again, with some of the fascist figures of
that Holocaust past. They may exist and literally coincide with a revival,
let’s say, of Jewish life and culture.
So it becomes important to try to bolster those voices that are combating this
that will provide that kind of security or long-term comfort that can allow the
revival of Jewish life to continue. And so it then means we really need to
turn, in many cases, to the mainstream leaders and to the bystanders – people
who are inclined, perhaps, to sit back and observe; they need to be more
forceful, more outspoken. In some cases, the examples may be only symbolic,
whether it’s programs in parts of Western Europe, say, that bring Jews and
Muslims together. But they can be amplified. They send an important message.
And I think those are stories that – one shouldn’t overlook the realities of
the problems in bringing them forward, much as in Sweden – for example,
there’s a program in the Netherlands that brings peers, Jewish and Muslim young
adults, to teach about the Holocaust and to talk about the Middle East conflict
in Dutch schools. It’s a great program; I don’t how many people directly are
impacted by it. It sends a certain symbolic message. But it’s still fighting
against larger trends, nationalist parties and general difficulties.
REP. COHEN: Thank you. And I yield back the remainder of my time.
REP. SMITH: Mr. Cohen, thank you very much. You know, we do have a few votes
– and I apologize to our second panel, and – but I’ll come back, and – we’ll
come back as quickly as we can.
But I do have a couple of questions. If we do have to run, please continue
answering. Chief of Staff Mark Milosch will then – we will go into a very
But Stacy Burdett, in her testimony, is – from ADL – is very strong and
focusing on a whole lot of issues, but including the – and you mentioned it
too, Rabbi Baker, in your statement – about the rising incidents of
anti-Semitic hate on college campuses. And I’m thinking early next year of
having a hearing at Rutgers, or – that would be my preferred venue for a
hearing. And she points out the situation that occurred at Rutgers where one
of the staff members called a student a Zionist pig on Facebook, and goes on
and on about that terrible incident.
Could you, perhaps, speak to this very alarming trend? I remember the YouTube
just – it reminds me of what we just last week in Cairo where chants went up
about death to the Jews. But we also saw something very similar happening on
our own college campuses that was – that was awful to behold. If we don’t see,
I think, our leadership at our universities and colleges being – you know,
drawing a bright line against such hate, it will get worse. So if – you know,
students should not live in fear, especially in the United States of America,
but anywhere in the world – Europe, anywhere – with regards to openly and very
proudly manifesting the very real fact that they’re Jewish. So if you could
speak to the university issue.
And also, Special Envoy Rosenthal, the training issue –does it look like monies
will be available for additional training of law enforcement assets within the
OSCE, something that we’ve all talked about, worked on over the years? If you
could speak to that issue, where you see that going, and – I’m actually out of
time, but the record will be open as you answer that. And then we’ll have a
brief recess and invite our second panel.
MS. ROSENTHAL: Well, I sit at the foreign policy table. So the only country I
am not mandated by you to monitor is the United States. But I live in the
United States, and I have grown children who were products of the universities
here in the United States. And so certainly I am aware of minority populations
on campus and very specifically Jews feeling harassed by political correctness
– I hate using that word, but that’s how it’s reported. So I don’t have a lot
to share, because I don’t – my office does not monitor that.
As for OSCE, we have – in 2011, we funded ODIHR at $91,000, and the NGO
strengthening initiative at 65,000 (dollars), and 125,000 (dollars) to ODHIR’s
tolerance efforts, 50,000 (dollars) to my colleague – for support for my
colleague Andy Baker. And I’ve heard nothing that that isn’t going to move
forward, but you would know that better than I.
MARK MILOSCH: Thank you very much. Rabbi Baker?
RABBI BAKER: Well, to the last point, I think we see that so much of the
efforts in ODIHR to deal with these issues rely on extra budgetary
contributions. So that becomes and remains a critical concern as for many
countries there is an effort to control costs and to reduce support.
The reality is, even if we have secured a greater environment for supporting
these projects – the work, also, of me and my two colleagues as personal
representatives – in the end of the day, if there isn’t financial support to
make things happen, that becomes a problem. So I hope – I hope that this
commission and others, in your meetings with other governments and colleagues
in other countries, can reinforce the importance of having this available.
I’m pleased to hear that you’ll consider a separate hearing to look at the
problem of anti-Semitism on college campuses. I have colleagues who focus on
that more directly and with greater expertise than do I.
I think we are fortunate, in this country, (that in ?) the larger environment
and atmosphere particularly where that anti-Israel discourse becomes something
much worse is not present in the way it is in many European countries.
But perhaps if there is an exception, it’s in the heightened and somewhat
rarefied environment of college campuses. Therefore, I think it does – you
know, it does invite a special focus. I know it’s not the purpose of the
meeting – of this hearing today, but certainly worth addressing in the future.
MR. MILOSCH: Thank you, Rabbi Baker. As you – as you know, the congressman
has fought and will continue fighting for extra budgetary contributions to this
most important work.
We will now go into recess. I think the members will return in about 30
REP. SMITH: The commission will resume its seating. We’re joined by
Commissioner Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania, who is the chairman of the Health
and Human Service – or the Energy and Commerce –
MR.: Health subcommittee.
REP. SMITH: – Health Subcommittee. And we’re also joined by Trent Franks from
Arizona, who is the chairman of – or co-chairman of the American (sic) Israel
Allies Caucus here in the house and also the chairman of the Religious Freedom
Caucus. So very much focused and concerned about these issues. And if either
of my two colleagues would like to say a word before we introduce our second
OK. Now, let me introduce panel number two. We’ll begin with Dr. Shimon
Samuels, who’s the director for international liaison of the Simon Wiesenthal
Center based in Paris and also serves as honorary president of the
Europe-Israel Forum. He has long been a force in the fight against
anti-Semitism, having also served as the European director of the
Anti-Defamation League based in Paris, and the Israel director of the American
We’ll then hear from Mark Levin, who is the executive director of the NCSJ;
advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic States and
Eurasia. 2008, Mr. Levin received the Soviet Jewry Freedom Award from the
Russian Jewish Community Foundation, and the Order of Merit medal from the
Ukraine president Victor Yushchenko.
Mr. Levin has served three times as the public member of the U.S. delegation to
meetings of the OSCE and served as a public adviser for the U.S. delegation to
the 2004 Berlin Conference on Anti-Semitism. And as he knows, as I mentioned
earlier, I joined him on my first trip to Moscow back in 1982, which frankly
began my push in this entire effort – so thank you, Mark.
Then hear from Eric Fusfield who has served as deputy director of the B'nai
B'rith Center for Human Rights and Public Policy since 2007, and director of
legislative affairs for B'nai B'rith International since 2003. He has been a
leading advocate for B’nai B’rith in the OSCE’s adoption of efforts to combat
global anti-Semitism; he’s been there every step of the way as language was
crafted, as action plans were hatched, and brings great degree of wealth and
knowledge and wisdom to this effort.
And then Stacy Burdett is the Anti-Defamation League’s Washington director, and
heads the Government and National Affairs Office. Ms. Burdett reaches out to
Congress, the administration and foreign diplomats to mobilize leadership and
support on global anti-Semitism, securing fair treatment for Israel, and
broader human rights issues like international religious freedom and the fight
against anti-immigrant bigotry. She has been a leading force in efforts to
advance the global fight against anti-Semitism in the OSCE and at the United
Dr. Samuels, if you could begin.
SHIMON SAMUELS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I open –
REP. SMITH: If you could just suspend – we’re joined by Robert Aderholt.
Robert, did you want to just say a word or two? OK. OK, thank you.
MR. SAMUELS: Mr. Chairman, I opened the European office of the Simon
Wiesenthal Center in Paris in 1988 to focus on three challenges. Firstly, in
Western Europe, the second religion demographic, it was already Islam. An
interfaith outreach was necessary, as was monitoring of incipient extremism.
Second, tremors in Eastern Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall signaled a
new nationalism variant of past phantoms. There was no need to get to seven on
the Richter scale to understand that monitoring was required. Thirdly, flea
markets across Europe sold under the counter floppy disks – a (meager ?)
Commodore 64 for those of us who remember – disks of neo-Nazi games. Hate
would advance exponentially with that technology and had to be monitored.
By the millennium, the year 2000, the first focus on Islamism was now
characterized by the Durban Process, which in turn inspired a jihadist
anti-Semitism and anti-Semitism terrorism nexus with Middle East satellite
television and website inculcation and recruitment across Europe. The second
focus was marked by the European Union enlargement. In April 2004, a
Warsaw-welcomed fiesta focused on the challenges facing the East European
countries entering Europe.
I was invited to speak on anti-Semitism in the West and scapegoating in the
East. Scapegoating is a result of painful withdrawal from the central of
Soviet economy to the market or capitalist economy. That very same month, the
OSCE Berlin Declaration on Anti-Semitism was annunciated and set a new
threshold of standards for the region. I addressed the state parties, noting
that you are the same nations we meet at Geneva at the U.N. Human Rights
Commission, now called the council.
Yet, here at the OSCE, the language is different, perhaps due to the absence of
the (tyrannists ?) and the NGOs whose vested agenda is to perpetuate the Middle
East conflict. I view the OSCE therefore as the answer to the stultification
of the U.N. system – even today, exemplified only last week by the appointment
of Syria to a human rights role at UNESCO.
What forms of anti-Semitism did the Berlin Declaration not foresee? First,
that which at the OSCE high-level meeting in Astana in 2010 I called
supersessionism. Just as the early church viewed itself as Israel – (speaks
Latin) – Israel, not in the flesh but in the spirit – so today we witness an
identity theft of the Jewish narrative among several OSCE parties.
In Eastern Europe, you have referred to the Baltics and the Ukraine; a
seemingly innocent conflation is made between the Holocaust the atrocities of
Stalin. Its political instrument, the Prague Declaration, seeks through the
European Parliament to replace the 27th of January, the day of Auschwitz
liberation, by – as a Holocaust commemoration day – with a double genocide day
on the 23rd of August, which marks the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact that resulted in
the Soviet occupation of the countries concerned.
In Western Europe, the ongoing Durban Process has redefined Holocaust as Nakba,
the 1948 catastrophe of Israel’s birth. Anti-Semitism, to quote from Hadi
Alham (ph), professor at Utaratarium (ph) University: Anti-Semitism until 1945
focused the Jew, but from 1948 and the victory of Zionism, it targets the other
Semite – the Arab. Thus, by Orwellian double-speak, if Anti-Semitism is
Arabiphobia, then anti – then Zionism is Anti-Semitism.
Add to that mix terms like apartheid or BDS, boycott divestment sanctions –
misappropriated from South African victimology – to castigate the state of
Israel. The Norwegian foreign minister uses Holocaust images to depict the
Palestinian predicament. But if Gaza is Auschwitz, then Auschwitz is but a
The anti-Semitic backlash in Europe to this historical gangrene, or what I
would like to call the gangrening of history, is to be exacerbated further via
the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO. In that context, supersessionism aims
to cut the Jewish link to the Holy Land.
The Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb have been rebaptized as mosques.
In the background material that I sent you, there is a volume called the Borach
(ph) Wall, which I purchased at the Frankfurt Book Fair this year. This book,
Borach (ph), renames the Wailing or the Western Wall, the holiest site in
Judaism, as a Jewish heresy of aggression against a Muslim heritage site. Last
week, in a film clip found on YouTube, Travel Palestine, funded by the U.N.
Development Program, expunges all Jewish roots in the Holy Land.
I believe that Jews also have a trinity – the people, the book, the land.
Eliminate one leg of that triangle, you delete them all. Also not perceived by
the Berlin Declaration was an even more dangerous demonstration – that the
enemy of the good is indifference. Here we encounter a new phase in
anti-Semitism. Ahmadinejad stated the Holocaust is a lie, and was answered by
a wave of international condemnation. A little later he continued, wipe Israel
off the map. This passed with muted indignation.
His repeated “Jews are vermin, (bacilli ?), a tumor” are met with fatigue. By
a numbing effect, he tests the limits of Western timidity. Voilà, the
anti-Semitism of indifference. This week, 5,000 Tahrir Square demonstrators in
Cairo, screeching death to the Jews, created no expressions of global outrage.
The bar has thus been raised on anti-Semitism.
After eight assaults on the Rabbi of Malmö, Sweden, a community of 700 Jews and
70,000 Muslims, the Wiesenthal Center during a visit in January, 2011, imposed
a travel advisory on the city. Our campaign resulted in the Swedish government
finally subsidizing community security. Faced with mass total indifference,
the Rabbi was further subject to 15 assaults since our visit. Indeed, now the
Muslim community has joined us in criticizing Malmö’s inattentiveness to hate
crimes – the anti-Semitism indifference.
Next month, January the 20th, we will mark the 70th anniversary of the Wansee
Protocol, which was a meeting of 15 Nazi bureaucrats in Berlin to coordinate
the extermination of 11 million Jews as the final solution of the Jewish
question. In the material that I sent is the list of the 11 million Jews – and
I stress 11 million. Six million were murdered; 11 million were the intent.
I’ve always respected the power of water; 30 miles of British Channel saved my
family and the 330,000 Jews of England on that list.
Today 30 miles of channel are as defensible as 3,000 miles of Atlantic waters –
zero. We are all tripwires crisscrossing the OSCE region. Recently discovered
documentation of Nazi German strategic designs on Persia’s oil wealth includes
a Wansee-style memorandum signed Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the
Holocaust. Therein, he consigns up to 100,000 Iranian Jews to extermination.
The current president of Iran persists in his intentions to finish the job.
The late Simon Wiesenthal often said: What starts with the Jews never ends
with them. And on the Venezuelan coast, Iran is building a Shahab-3 missile
base with a range of 2,000 miles, facing these United States. Twice, in two
World Wars, you have invoked the Monroe Doctrine to address the balance of the
old world. Mr. Chairman, through this commission – which I consider an
early-warning system – we call on the United States government to maintain that
balance in the OSCE region.
For anti-Semitism is indeed to be a benchmark, then this session must be
replayed at a purpose-built, high-level OSCE meeting, perhaps to be called
Berlin II, stocktaking and counteracting anti-Semitism in the OSCE region. It
is you, Mr. Chairman, and I quote you – you said: The status bar – the status
quo is not enough. Thank you.
REP. SMITH: Dr. Samuels, thank you very much for your very eloquent testimony.
Anti-Semitism of indifference tests the limits of Western timidity – you’ve
really nailed, I think – you know, a snapshot of exactly where we are today.
And the Berlin II idea is something we really need to very seriously consider.
And I thank you for that recommendation and all the other points you’ve made.
Now, Mr. Levin.
MARK LEVIN: Mr. Chairman, thank you. I also would ask that my full statement
be put into the record.
REP. SMITH: Without objection, so ordered.
MR. LEVIN: And what I’d like to do is just try to make a few brief points and
summarize my testimony. But before I do that, Mr. Chairman, I would like to
return the compliment that you gave me earlier. I think your leadership has
been instrumental in making not just the issue of anti-Semitism but many of the
other human rights challenges that the world faces much more public, much more
on the United States government agenda. And you should take great pride in
your 30-plus years in being on Capitol Hill and accomplishing as much as you
You should also know that this is the 40th anniversary of NCSJ, and we’re going
to Israel next week. And we will be hosting a reception in honor of many of
the former refuseniks and activists that you and I met on our first trip in
1982. So I will, with your permission, give my – give your personal regards to
Yuli Kosharovsky and Yuli Edelstein.
The – I think this is a very good time to reflect on the progress made on this
issue. Seven years has passed, as many of my colleagues have noted, about the
conference on anti-Semitism in Berlin. And as far as the Jewish communities of
the former Soviet Union, I think it’s good – it’s the good news versus the bad
news. And these are the four points I’d like to make before I get to the
We’re dealing more with the increase in popular street anti-Semitism today than
we are state-sponsored anti-Semitism. So if there’s any good news, it’s that
there’s virtually no state-sponsored anti-Semitism in the region today. But
we’ve seen a corresponding rise in, as I said, in popular anti-Semitism.
Interestingly, if you look at the former Soviet Union as a whole, anti-Semitism
seems to be a much larger problem in the Slavic countries than it does in the
Central Asian and Caucasus areas.
Next, you know, we – many of us talk about the new anti-Semitism. I think
that’s one reason we saw the action taken by the Helsinki Commission and the
OSCE as a whole. And we commonly refer to the demonization, delegitimatization
and double standard of Israel as the new forms of anti-Semitism. Unfortunately
– or fortunately, in the former Soviet Union, we’re dealing with tried and true
traditional forms of anti-Semitism. We see, what I like to call, an unholy
alliance of the far right and far left coming together in many of these
And fourth, we have seen an unprecedented rise in xenophobia, extremism and
ultra-nationalism. Interestingly, in the last couple of years the neo-Nazi
skinheads and others who engage in these hideous acts have focused their
attention more on other ethnic and religious minorities than the Jews – but as
we all know, that that can change very quickly. And for many years the primary
target for these ultra-nationalist and xenophobic groups were their Jewish
I’d like to give a brief overview of current anti-Semitism across the former
Soviet states. As I said, official state anti-Semitism is virtually
non-existent. We’re – we are focusing on popular anti-Semitism. The first
country I’d like to focus on is Russia. Russia – anti-Semitism in Russia today
is most often political and street-level, and increasingly features a rising
number of attacks by, as I said, young skinheads and nationalists. Incidents
most often involve vandalism against and firebomb attacks on synagogues,
cemeteries and Jewish community centers, but have also included outright
physical assaults on Jews and attempted bombings of Jewish buildings.
Most alarming is the fact that human – Russian human rights monitoring groups
have reported a steady rise over the last 10 years in the number of overall
attacks, as I said, by skinheads and extremists on minorities, migrant workers,
and foreigners across Russia. Leading Russian human rights groups estimate
that Russian far-right extremists now number in the tens of thousands, and warn
that nationalist movements are gaining strength across Russia.
It was just a year ago this week that a Russian nationalist riot took place in
central Moscow, next to the Kremlin. And it’s important, I think, to remember
this because some in the government refer to these as soccer fans, not as
neo-Nazis and skinheads. We’re concerned by the strong potential for violence,
including anti-Semitic violence, inherent in this movement. And we have been
urging the Russian government to strengthen its enforcement of existing
commitments, including to the OSCE charter, and to take stronger legal action
against incitement of racial hatred and overt calls for violence.
The Russian government recently has publicly denounced nationalist ideology and
expressed support for legal action against anti-Semitic acts. But
follow-through has been uneven. Some anti-Semitic attacks in recent years have
in fact been successfully prosecuted as hate crimes, but many others continue
to be dismissed as mere hooliganism or random violence.
Next in Ukraine – Ukraine is home to another vibrant Jewish community. It’s
the second-largest in the former Soviet Union. Although popular anti-Semitism
has persisted in recent year, the Ukrainian government has demonstrated a
strong commitment to combating this trend, and it has in fact achieved some
Anti-Semitic vandalism and other incidents occur regularly, and have included
physical assaults on Ukrainian Jews and at least two known – and at least two
known fatalities. There’ve been firebomb attacks and vandalism on synagogues
and other monuments. We continue to urge the Ukrainian government to deal with
Now, one positive step – and it’s – that has occurred – and I’ve sat before you
before and talked about a group known as MAUP. MAUP was the largest private
university in Ukraine for a number of years, but it was also the largest
purveyor of anti-Semitic material and took a lead in promoting anti-Semitism
throughout the country. The good news is that it’s virtually non-existent in
the anti-Semitism business today, and that is because of the strong action
taken by the Ukrainian government, followed on by the recommendations of this
commission, the U.S. government as a whole and many NGOs.
In Moldova, we’re dealing with a large community. Again, there’ve been
isolated incidents, but the government has been responsive. The government
officially condemns anti-Semitism and has taken steps to combat it, including
supporting Holocaust education in local schools and partnering with Jewish
groups from Moldova and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union.
Next is Belarus. It’s a country, I know, Mr. Chairman, that you and the
members of this commission know very well. The community in Belarus today
numbers approximately 70,000. As in neighboring Ukraine and Russia, Belarusian
Jews today have access to a wide range of religious, educational and community
And Belarus is also the home of the only official Soviet-era Holocaust memorial
in the former USSR, which was dedicated in 1946. However, there are incidents
of popular anti-Semitism, such as vandalism of synagogues and community
buildings and cemeteries, and monument desecrations have occurred.
Openly anti-Semitic publications have also appeared in recent years in local
newspapers and in books published by local publishing houses affiliated with
the Minsk Orthodox Church. Belarusian authorities have also shown themselves
unresponsive to official complaints against anti-Semitic hate literature, and
have inconsistently investigated or prosecuted perpetrators of anti-Semitic
President Lukashenka himself has made on-the-record anti-Semitic comments in
the recent past, and members of his administration have published openly
anti-Semitic books and articles. However, and interestingly, relations between
the Belarusian Jewish community and the government are generally stable,
despite evidence of periodic official involvement in popular anti-Semitism and
official support for policies insensitive toward Jews and other minorities.
Lastly, I’d like to talk about the Baltic states just for a second. Despite
much good that’s taken place in the Baltic countries, and despite the small
size of the Jewish communities, we have seen anti-Semitic episodes there as
well, especially in Latvia and Estonia. And you’ve already heard a little bit
about Lithuania. Local nationalists and veterans of World War II-era
Nazi-sponsored auxiliary units continue to generate anti-Semitic hate speech,
and stage annual marches with anti-Semitic and Nazi displays.
A bit of good news is that the prime minister of Latvia stated last month that
any member of his government attending these annual marches of the Waffen-SS
veterans would be fired – which, while commendable, also highlights the
persistence of these difficult World War II-era divisions in the Baltic
Perhaps most disturbing has been the shameful prosecution in recent years by
Lithuanian authorities of several elderly Jewish Holocaust survivors for their
wartime anti-Nazi resistance activities as somehow anti-Lithuanian. Although
it appears that the prosecutors are no longer actively pursuing a case against
these individuals, the instigation of their prosecution certainly sent a
NCSJ and other leading organizations have maintained a steady, productive
dialogue with Baltic officials on these issues of concerns. We will continue
to press them.
Mr. Chairman, I want to finish with a series of recommendations, and it’ll just
take a second. And I think it’s important to note many of these, particularly
in light of what happened seven years ago at the Berlin conference.
REP. SMITH: Mr. Levin, if you could just suspend for one brief second. We
have three minutes to be on the floor, but there’s only one vote after that
immediate, so within 10 minutes, we’ll all be back. So I apologize, again, for
this interruption. When we schedule these, we have no idea what the schedule
might be on that particular day. So I thank you for your forbearance, and we
stand in brief, very brief, recess.
REP. SMITH: The commission will resume its hearing. Mr. Levin?
MR. LEVIN: Mr. Chairman, I’d like to offer the following recommendations. It
sounds obvious, but the first one would be to continue to strongly condemn
hate. Incidents of anti-Semitism, political and religious leaders that
polarize society and media outlets which propagate intolerance must be strongly
condemned, to send a clear message that incitement to and acts of ethnic,
religious, and racial hatred will not be tolerated.
Secondly, enact adequate hate-crime legislation to create an environment in
which Jews and other minorities can live without fear. The successor states of
the former Soviet Union must enact hate-crime and hate-speech legislation and
enforce existing laws for all citizens, including elected officials.
Three, train local law enforcement. To properly combat anti-Semitism and
extremism, government must empower local police forces. Police must be able to
delineate between ordinary hooliganism and a crime motivated by bias or hate.
A well-trained police force will better follow through on hate-crime
enforcement and investigations, leading to an increase in prosecutions, data
collections, and dealing more sensitively with victims.
Fourth, monitor and catalogue incidents. Cataloging and reporting
anti-Semitic, xenophobic and bias-motivated activities enables prompt
condemnation of such acts, increasing the chances that perpetrators will be
Fifth, implement region-wide programs of interethnic understanding and
Holocaust education. This is the most effective way to combat the roots of
popular or street anti-Semitism. Teaching children the values of tolerance and
basic human rights from a very young age begins to stop the perpetuation of
ignorance and negative stereotypes of Jews and other minorities.
And finally, reform the message of religious and media outlets throughout the
region. Beyond the classroom and the government, the two other major sources
of information in the former Soviet Union are the media and places of worship.
Governments and nongovernmental organizations need to work with leaders of
these religious institutions and the editors and reporters of media outlets to
ensure that they will spread a message of tolerance.
At NCSJ, we will keep engaging governments throughout this region strongly and
persistently on these and other problematic areas in the human rights field.
We will continue to make our position known in the United States and the former
Soviet Union, and in international fora. Mr. Chairman, thank you for this
opportunity. And again, I want to thank you and the commission for everything
that you’ve done to address this problem.
REP. SMITH: Mr. Levin, thank you so very much for your insights, particularly
the country-specific insights, your recommendations at the end, and for your
30-plus years of extraordinary leadership. We are joined by Commissioner
McIntyre, joined by Mr. Engel, who in addition to serving as a senior member of
the foreign affairs committee and a former chairman of the Western Hemisphere
subcommittee – now ranking member – also co-chairs the Caucus for Combating
Anti-Semitism here in the House.
And we’re also joined by Chairman Frank Wolf, who is the chairman of the
approps justice subcommittee. Mr. Wolf, thank you for being here. And for the
record, Mr. Wolf is the prime sponsor of the International Religious Freedom
Act of 1998, which has, I believe, revolutionized, within the State Department,
and has made a priority where one did not exist, of religious freedom issues
within State and in our government. Thank you, Mr. Wolf.
Mr. Wolf, would you like to say anything? Or Eliot or Mike?
REP. ELIOT ENGLE (D-NY): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. (I’m ?) good.
REP. SMITH: OK. We’ll now go to Eric Fusfield, and thank you for your
patience and for your leadership as well.
ERIC FUSFIELD: Mr. Chairman, I would also like to ask that my written
testimony be entered into the record.
REP. SMITH: Without objection, so ordered.
MR. FUSFIELD: And I will use my time just to summarize. First, I would like
to thank you for the privilege and honor of addressing the commission on behalf
of B’nai B’rith International and its more than 200,000 members and supporters
in over 50 countries, including many states in the OSCE region.
B’nai B’rith would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, Co-Chairman Cardin, Mr.
Wolf, Mr. Franks, Mr. McIntyre, Mr. Engle and the other commissioners, not just
for convening this hearing, but for your strong leadership in addressing the
serious problem of anti-Semitism. The role of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and
the State Department has been absolutely indispensable in generating forward
momentum within the OSCE on combating anti-Semitism, and we’re very grateful
It’s been 11 years since the outbreak of the second intifada in the Middle
East, and subsequently, the start of a new wave of anti-Semitism throughout the
OSCE region and around the world. This spread of hatred has resulted not only
in widespread attacks against Jewish communities, but in a proliferation of
anti-Semitic propaganda, much of which is directed against the state of Israel.
Tragically, the demonization and delegitimization of the Jewish state has
become a daily occurrence, as Israel’s enemies repeatedly accuse it of being a
Nazi-like occupier and an apartheid state that disenfranchises the
Palestinians. Falsehoods about Israel are repeated so often that they become
widely accepted in the popular culture, and sometimes impact government policy.
The effort by Israel’s relentless critics to denigrate the Jewish state is not
only evidence that anti-Semitism is alive and well 66 years after the
Holocaust. This new variation of the world’s oldest social illness actually
poses a security threat to the Jewish state by intensifying its international
Now, over the past decade, the OSCE, with the United States in the lead, has
taken up the urgent struggle against rising anti-Semitism. While much has been
done to fight anti-Semitism in that time, much work remains. The need for
practical and effective strategies to combat and defeat this pathology is still
crucial. To this end, the OSCE’s Ministerial Council should formalize the
scheduling of conferences on anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance at
Over the next few years, we’ll have opportunities to mark the tenth
anniversaries of landmark OSCE conferences in Vienna, Berlin and Cordoba. By
scheduling review conferences at the appropriate junctures, we can take
advantage of these anniversaries by challenging OSCE member states to follow
through on their commitments. We should widely promote, within the OSCE, the
EU Monitoring center’s Comprehensive working definition of anti-Semitism.
This document, whose principles have also been adopted by the U.S. State
Department and the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, is tremendously useful in
identifying current manifestations of anti-Semitism to those who might not
otherwise recognize them. It should be disseminated as widely as possible
among public officials, educators, and journalists, among others.
We must enhance support for ODIHR’s tolerance and nondiscrimination unit, which
has now become a fixed and integral part of the OSCE’s work. We must enable
the TND unit to sustain and expand its critical activities, which currently
include educational programs on anti-Semitism in 14 countries. At least two
more countries may soon be added to that list. TND would like to adapt those
materials to an online format to make them more readily accessible, but this
will require increased support from member states.
Security for Jewish communities must be enhanced. In some cases, additional
money has been allocated to make this possible. But even where funding is not
available, much can be done through the exchange of best practices facilitated
by the OSCE. The U.S. has a critical role to play in ensuring that the OSCE
maintains its focus on anti-Semitism as a distinct phenomenon, even as some of
the remedies used to address anti-Semitism may have broader application.
I hope that Secretary of State Clinton will attend the OSCE Ministerial Council
in Vilnius next week as expected, and that when she does, she will specifically
reference the problem of anti-Semitism and the importance of the work of the
three personal representatives in ODIHR’s tolerance and nondiscrimination unit.
Her doing so will assist in keeping attention focused on anti-Semitism at the
Last summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Oslo with representatives of
the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. In a meeting with
leading Norwegian journalists, I confronted the editor of the daily paper
Dagbladet with an editorial cartoon, which I have here, which I’ve entered into
the record – an editorial cartoon that he had published, depicting former
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as a concentration camp guard.
His response was that the cartoon had provoked a healthy public debate. Three
months later, he ran a second piece by the same cartoonist, this one depicting
Gaza as an Israeli-run concentration camp. When asked in an interview why he
had used the flawed and inherently anti-Semitic Nazi analogy twice, the
cartoonist replied, because I think it fits.
Mr. Chairman, I think of my eight-month-old son Emmanuel – and this is my final
exhibit – I’m a new father, so please bear with me – and I imagine that he will
graduate from college around the time that we mark the 100th anniversary of the
With very few Holocaust survivors likely to be alive then, and with the lessons
of history further faded, how much more difficult will it be for his generation
to prevent such misuses of the Holocaust analogy, and to promote an
understanding that these distortions heighten the isolation of the Jewish state
and undermine the security of the Jewish people?
The implacability of the Norwegian cartoonist and his editor is an unsettling
reminder of the problem we continue to face, and an illustration of why Elie
Wiesel has described anti-Semitism as the world’s most durable ideology. As we
gauge the OSCE’s progress in the struggle against anti-Semitism, we can draw
reassurance from the positive accomplishments of the past eight years, even as
we commit ourselves to sustaining and intensifying our focus.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for your unstinting commitment to this issue. B’nai
B’rith pledges its ongoing cooperation as we all confront the challenge of
combating anti-Semitism together. The history of European Jewry in the past
century is a tragic one. Let us be mindful of that history. Let us speak out.
Let us use our influence, and let us act now. History demands nothing less
from us. Thank you.
REP. SMITH: Mr. Fusfield, thank you very much. And I would just say that 20
years from now, that eight-year-old soon will be very proud of the leadership
that his dad demonstrated throughout these very difficult years. So thank you
so very much for that testimony and for your statement.
MR. FUSFIELD: Thank you.
REP. SMITH: Mr. Engle, did you want to say something now or –
REP. ENGLE: I’ll wait.
REP. SMITH: Oh, you will. OK, fine. Ms. Burdett?
STACY BURDETT: Thank you very much. Just, I’ll quickly echo the thanks of the
rest of the panel for your commitment and your partnership. And we hear a lot
in the OSCE these days about fatigue – fatigue on the anti-Semitism issue on
the part of the governments. And Mr. Chairman, when I look at the other
members of the panel who are here, I know we meet that fatigue with
And so your work really is an inspiration to us in the NGO community, and we’re
eager and ready to work with you on the next phase of this work. I want to ask
that my full statement be submitted for the record.
REP. SMITH: No objection, so ordered.
MS. BURDETT: Thank you – and use my few minutes to take advantage of my
position as the wrap-up guy, and do a little bit of stock-taking on some of the
observations today that I hope can jumpstart a question-and-answer session.
Now, nine years ago, almost to this day – it was December 10th, Human Rights
Day – we sat in a room in this building, all of us, and we were worried about
three specific issues: a resurgent anti-Semitism, the broad denial by
governments and their failure to act, and the lack of basic definitions and
strategies and tools to even wrap our heads around the problem and to begin to
think about how to respond.
Now, on the first count, we’ve heard the threat persists. Middle East
developments continue to fuel new forms of anti-Semitism. Some of the
witnesses have talked about the Arab Spring. The Anti-Defamation League has
released a new report on the Muslim Brotherhood and its political party, the
Freedom and Justice Party, which is espousing virulent anti-Israel and
anti-Semitic messages. So the trends continue along that path.
On the second count, the governments still do not show the political will to
fulfill the commitments that they’ve made. Each year, the Anti-Defamation
League, in partnership with Human Rights First – we analyze the annual hate
crime report of the OSCE, and we use that data to issue what the ODIHR is not
in a position to do, but a real scorecard.
And seven years after ministers stood in Berlin and pledged to do the most
basic job of collecting data on anti-Semitic incidents, only three of the 56
governments bothered to give that information to ODIHR for this year’s report.
So there’s a lot of work to be done – again, still big gaps in compliance.
But what is different today is we do have a strategy. We do have a very
serious arsenal of tools in place for any government that would make the choice
to use them. So while states have stayed lagging and behind in their own
compliance, the OSCE really is a focal point for progress, for fighting
anti-Semitism and hate crime. So the ministerial decisions we’ve all talked
about, the personal representative on anti-Semitism, the tolerance unit and its
dedicated program and staff adviser on anti-Semitism have really carved out a
focus in the OSCE, and a menu of tools and strategies.
Now, we’ve been so immersed in the incremental development of these tools, I
wanted to just sketch where we’ve come, and how far we’ve come. So the ODIHR
fulfills its mandate, I think, in an expansive way. They start with a tasking
that essentially is very passive in nature; they’re supposed to serve as a
collection point for anti-Semitic incidents and assist states in complying with
their commitments. And they use that mandate and those reports to expose real
failings and to respond to those with tools for any states that want to
So ODIHR reports have looked at key questions that we’ve asked in these rooms:
How much hate crime is there? What are governments doing about it? What
education approaches can deal with new forms of anti-Semitism? How do you
commemorate the Holocaust? And how, in countries across this region, should
governments and teachers be remembering the Holocaust in a way that deals with
the fact that, as the special envoy said, anti-Semitism didn’t die with Hitler?
Now ODIHR has responded to their findings with some cutting-edge tools, and
they focus on key target groups that have been talked about in our own
collective recommendations and in ministerial decisions. So now teachers can
have off-the-shelf teaching tools in 13 different languages that look at
anti-Semitism in the context of the experience of students in different
countries. There’s another educators’ guide that really walks teachers
through: why teach about anti-Semitism, how to do it. That guide is being
translated today into Turkish, and it exists in other languages. And there are
guides for teachers and officials on preparing appropriate and meaningful
Now, governments also have a tool kit. There is a how-to guide on drafting
hate crime laws and policies. There are trainings they can take advantage of
for law enforcement officials and officials across the criminal justice system.
Now we know that communities and NGOs fill these gaps that are left behind by
the failed policies of governments, and they can receive training and support
as well. And even in the far reaches of the region, there are downloadable
tool kits for hate crime response and on anti-Semitism.
And just like the U.S. was a major proponent of these programs and for progress
on the anti-Semitism issue, we should be proud that American models and
expertise have played a big role in their development. The Anti-Defamation
League’s been very gratified to be involved in helping develop the hate crime
law guidelines and some of the trainings that are in the ODIHR’s hate crime
tool kit. And you have an appendix at the back of the testimony; it’s a
document we’ve looked over many times. But if you look at it and think about
where we were in 2002, the progress is really remarkable in terms of what are
Now, the major challenge is, obviously, how to build more political will so
governments will avail themselves of these tools. You know, back in 2002, we
also called for the U.S. to do better in its own reporting, and we welcome all
of your support and, Chairman Smith, your work to enact the Global
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.
If you look at a chart that is on page seven of my testimony, I did a little
snapshot of what’s been happening since 2002 in the area of U.S. reporting.
And if you look, the coverage of anti-Semitism in the State Department Country
Reports on Human Rights has just about doubled. So in 2002, there were 30
countries that included a chapter on anti-Semitism in their report; today that
number is 62. And there is a similar doubling if you look just at
OSCE-participating states. And the content of the reports that the State
Department issues are – also do address what’s the relationship between
anti-Semitism and the public discourse, and also our primary trend that we’re
concerned about: how anti-Israel hatred impacts Jewish security and Jewish
And I’m confident that U.S. reporting can continue to improve, especially since
the special envoy talked today about how she’s instituted expanded training in
the Foreign Service Institute. And ADL’s been proud to partner with her in
delivering some of those trainings. And it’s incredibly important – as you
know from your work on trafficking and international religious freedom, it’s
very important to give American diplomats practical tools so they can recognize
indicators and understand the nature of anti-Semitism, especially now that
they’re required to report on it. So your support for a strong special envoy
can really help ensure that these – the specialized focus that we’ve fought for
inside of our own government, and the dedicated effort within other governments
to mobilize their foreign policy tools, can continue.
You know, even here in the U.S., the Jewish community enjoys such broad
acceptance, but hate, violence and harassment is also a disturbing part of
American Jewish life as well. The ADL’s audit of anti-Semitic incidents has
shown, the last few years, a continuous level of incidents. This year there
was a slight increase; we found 1,232 incidents. And the FBI hate crime data –
I’ve also provided as an appendix to my written statement – shows consistently
that about two-thirds of hate violence that targets an individual based on
their religion targets Jews. So this is proportionally very, very disturbing.
And our own ADL survey of attitudes in the United States showed that about 15
percent of Americans, so that’s about 35 million people, have anti-Semitic
views. So we’re very concerned at home about the bullying and harassment of
our children. And you talked, Mr. Chairman, a little bit about how on American
campuses anti-Israel activity has sporadically been spilling over into
anti-Semitism, and it has made campus life uncomfortable for some Jewish
So we welcome important new guidance from the Department of Education Office of
Civil Rights. And that guidance made clear that anti-Semitic harassment can be
prohibited by federal law. I’ve attached a list of resources and links on the
– on – and recommendations on fighting bullying and hate crime. With that, I
hope the commission can consider, as a follow-on to this hearing – I’m very
pleased to hear you say you’re interested in convening another event, perhaps
at Rutgers or somewhere else, on the issue of campus harassment and would be
delighted to work with you on crafting that.
I submitted a full list of recommendations, things that participating states
can do, echoing a lot of what my colleagues have said, and recommendations for
the U.S. And I wanted to just point out that some of what can be done is –
some of the recommendations are easier to tackle than others. And I wanted to
just note, you know, of all the OSCE-participating states – they have all
designated a national point of contact on hate crime.
And ironically, the United States is the only country that has as our national
point of contact someone in our OSCE mission. And we – I think we should work
together and think about shifting that designation to one of our hate crime
experts, so we’re putting forward our best expertise. This was an initiative
that we’ve – that was driven a lot by American leadership, and we should put
our best foot forward in that department.
And the other thing I would add as a recommendation that may be easier than
some of the others is, we have talked about ODIHR tools on law enforcement
training and assistance, and I think we should take an initiative to look at
the other areas of American training initiatives in law and justice areas. And
let’s look at anti-Semitism as a potential component of programs that are
And then another – there’s a meeting coming up of the Mediterranean partners.
You know, we’ve all talked about – really, the incubator of some of the worst
elements of anti-Semitism is coming from the Arab media, the Arab and Muslim
world today. And the OSCE Mediterranean partners meeting comes around every
December, and we know that this is a forum that could be better used to address
anti-Semitism among civil society groups where it’s needed, among governments
where it’s needed. So that’s another recommendation I think we could follow up
on, if not for this year, but look at it as a goal for next year.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
MR. SMITH: Ms. Burdett, thank you very much for that testimony, for the
recommendations and for offering to work with us – which I know you would
anyway – (chuckles) – even if you didn’t say today – on the upcoming hearing,
probably at Rutgers or at some college venue. I would just note that George –
Professor George Zilbergeld, professor of political science at Montclair State
University, is here. And he has been very strongly promoting this issue of
what is happening on our college campuses, and has met with me and my staff
several times. And I want to thank him for those interventions.
REP. SMITH: I know Mr. Engel wanted to make a statement, I believe.
REPRESENTATIVE ENGEL (D-NY): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’ll be very brief. I
have a hearing in Energy and Commerce Committee, so thank you for kind of
jumping me ahead. First of all, I want to thank the witnesses for the
testimony. I know all of them personally – or know of their work, certainly,
and the work you all do, each of you collectively, and your organization is
truly very, very important.
You know, I have often said in the 21st century – we’re now one-tenth through
the 21st century -- who would have believed even 20 or 24 years ago when I came
to the Congress that we would actually be sitting in the 2011 – soon to be 2012
– and talk about the very existence of the state of Israel, about whether or
not it’s – the state of Israel can survive and then thrive. That was something
that we thought we had put to bed a long time ago, certainly with the Holocaust
not being very long and people already denying it, and the state of Israel,
born out of the ashes of the Holocaust.
I think that – and, by the way, when I say that I don’t mean it was only born
of the Holocaust – the Jewish ties to the Middle East and the Holy Land has
been for thousands and thousands of years. But I think it’s important that we
not sweep it under the rug and we talk about it, and my colleague, Mr. Smith,
the gentleman from New Jersey, has been in the forefront. He and I have talked
many, many times throughout the years about this, and I want to publicly,
Chris, say thank you for the job that you do, and Mr. Frankson, I have the
honor of chairing the Israel Allies Caucus – co-chairing the Israel Allies
And, you know, people who try to say they’re not anti-Semitic; they’re only
anti-Zionist – we know what that is, and we know it’s a phony and a fraud. If
you deny the existence of the Jewish state, if you say the most vile things
about Israel and about Jews, you’re not anti-Zionist, you’re also anti-Semitic.
It’s very, very clear – from the hate cartoons to the editorials to the
nonsense on campuses and everything that is happening, and frankly, it’s
shameful that barely a generation after the Holocaust that we kind of see these
anti -- extreme anti-Semitism anywhere in the world, but certainly on a
continent of Europe, where six million Jews perished – it’s just absolutely
unbelievable. And I point to the United Nations as being very culpable, quite
frankly. Some like to sugar coat it, but I don’t. Durban was an absolute
disgrace, and each time – Durban II, Durban III – compounds the absolute
So I want to thank all of you for doing the wonderful job that you do. It’s
important to keep talking about it, it’s important to keep saying it. If people
don’t like it, it’s too bad. It has to be said, and it has to be said by Jews
and non-Jews alike -- all people of goodwill – and that’s why it’s so
important. That’s why I talk about my colleagues here, who certainly have been
in the forefront, and I just want to thank you, and I thank you very much.
When I saw this was on the agenda today, I wanted very much to make it because
I think it’s important that we highlight it and not sweep it under the table,
and I think it’s also important that we say thank you to these people who are
on the front lines day in and day out. I’ve traveled with some of you -- Mr.
Levin -- and certainly met with some of you, and I want to just thank you.
MR. SMITH: Mr. Engel, thank you very much for your leadership and friendship
and partnership on this very critical issue. Thank you so much.
I’ll save my questions for last. I’d like to go to Mr. Frank, Chairman Frank.
MR. FRANK: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman, that’s very kind.
You know, I’m not a member of this committee on a regular basis, but I admire
so much the work of Chairman Smith and Congressman Wolf, and certainly Mr.
Engel and I are good friends and have such great commonality on some of the
issues that are before us here. And I just – from my heart – commend each one
of you for being here.
You remind me that there is still much to hope for with all of the challenges
we face in the world, and I couldn’t help but be especially struck by two
particular thoughts that were brought up by your testimony, Dr. Samuels. Your
point that it is critically important for people to respond to these
anti-Semitic, virulent remarks by people like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is so, so
very important because we win or lose this battle in the long run, if we let
our hearts grow cold to the evil that is perpetrated through some of these
remarks, and it’s very, very important that we stand up and are willing to
repudiate it in the strongest possible terms.
And I think I mentioned a quote that kind of puts it in perspective for me,
but: The vice is an evil with so frightening a mien that to be hated needs only
to be seen. But seen too often with its familiar face, first we endure, and
then we pity, and then we embrace.
And there is a great danger in allowing the free peoples of the world – the
people that love Israel, people that love the humanity – growing kind of cold
and indifferent. You know, when you have an Ahmadinejad saying things that are
just beyond comprehension, saying, well, Israel should be wiped off the map or
Jews are vermin, after a while we get used to what a maniac he is, and we
forget that we need to respond and repudiate this each time. So I want you to
know I’m grateful for that point. I think that it may be singularly the most
important one because that keeps this issue alive in the family of man to where
we’re responding to it as a collective group.
And, Ms. Burdett, I thought your point was also very compelling, and that is
the need for governments to have the resolve and the courage to stand up in
these circumstances, when these situations occur across the world.
So, my question is simply this – and I feel bad about throwing it out because
it’s always the most unfair one. You are pulled in many directions as a group –
and I will assure you those of us on this panel are as well – and if you could
say what the most important public policy to-do item would be for this Congress
to combat anti-Semitism and to combat the diminishment of people of any faith
or group, but in this particular context the anti-Semitic forces in the world.
Let me just remind you, just as an aside, Israel and the Jewish people have
been attacked for thousands of years. Most of their persecutors are gone. There
is much to hope for in the future, but if we could do one thing in this
Congress – could I just make a round with the panel and ask you to tell me one
thing – not to diminish any other thing – but just the one most important
priority that you’d put before us.
Dr. Samuels, I’ll start with you, and we’ll leave the lady to close. (Chuckles.)
DR. SAMUELS: Thank you.
That’s probably the most difficult question I’ve heard in my career. I’m not an
American, so I can’t tell what the U.S. Congress to do. I did recommend that
the U.S. – this commission, which plays such an important role – continue to
afflict the -- its counterparts in Europe.
So sessions such as this would not be held in the Parisien Senow (ph) or
Assemblée Nationale. It has been held, due to you, in the Palace of
I think that, just on the parliamentary level, we have taken what you have done
to the Parlatino, Latin American Parliament, which has its headquarters in
Panama. We have a resolution regarding anti-Semitism, which is being discussed
today – as we speak – in Panama at the Parlatino. That is basically the result
of your initiative through us. And I would like to suggest that, maybe using us
as vectors, we could work in different parliaments where we are around the
world, and bring to bear the thoughts of this commission, and perhaps then –
perhaps hold another parliamentary assembly of the OSCE region in order to
replicate what happened in the past, and to see how we take it forward. Thank
MR. LEVIN: Congressman, let me also reiterate, it’s not the easiest question,
but the one constant reminder – not just in combatting anti-Semitism, but in
promoting human rights in the United States over the last thirty-plus years –
has been the United States Congress. Without the support of all of you and your
colleagues and the people who served in the past, we wouldn’t have human rights
being a fundamental part of U.S. foreign policy. We wouldn’t have the focus on
anti-Semitism that we have today. So for a very difficult question, I think
the – my answer would be – is to continue on, to not give up.
You know, Congressman Smith and I, when we would – and Congressman Wolf, when
we would confront the Soviets, the Soviets were convinced that the United
States, whether our elected officials or Americans in general, would get bored.
We would forget. We would move on to something else. And what I would try to
tell the Soviet officials is that our community, as a whole, Americans as a
whole, we’re like water on a rock. Change may not take place quickly, but
change will occur. And by speaking out, by taking legislative initiatives, we
will defeat this problem. I don’t know how long it will take, but as long as
there are people of conscience working together and challenging those who
engage in hate of others, they don’t stand a chance.
REP. SMITH: Yes, sir.
MR. FUSFIELD: There are specific recommendations where the United States can
lead the OSCE in very practical ways, some of which I mentioned in my remarks.
For example, the work of the ODIHR’s tolerance and nondiscrimination unit –
they’re providing educational materials in anti-Semitism in 14 different
countries. They want to expand that number; they want to take this program and
move it online. The U.S. needs to generate support and provide support,
generate support among other member states for ODIHR to continue this work and
to expand this work.
Also, there needs to be more security for Jewish communities abroad. And this
is something – sometimes it costs money. The OSCE has allocated money in
certain cases for upgrading security. But in other ways, it could just require
an exchange of best practices which the OSCE can facilitate. And again, this
is something that the U.S. can lead the way on. These are specific
recommendations, but the broader picture is that U.S. leadership remains
indispensable. U.S. leadership has always been indispensable to the OSCE’s
efforts in combating anti-Semitism.
You know, we scored some early successes in this effort. The Berlin
Declaration in 2004 was a landmark declaration and can’t really be improved
upon very much as a – as a document. But, you know, the challenge since then
has been in making those words come to life, making governments follow through
in their commitments. And the U.S., you know, could continue to be
instrumental in encouraging other member states to do that, and also not just
following through on commitments, but maintaining the focus on anti-Semitism as
a distinct phenomenon – not just grouping it together with other forms of
hatred and losing the distinct focus on it. There are remedies for
anti-Semitism that can be applied to other forms of intolerance too, but
anti-Semitism is a unique phenomenon, and we can’t lose sight of that. And
that’s why I hope, when Secretary Clinton goes to Vilnius next week, she makes
specific reference to anti-Semitism so we retain that sense of its distinctness.
Finally, I would just say, speaking out whenever possible – you know, this is –
Americans are faced with a challenge that’s almost unique, because our speech
laws are more liberal than almost any other country in – democratic country in
the world has. And it’s our first amendment. We love it. We cherish it. We
wouldn’t have it any other way. But it does pose certain challenges for us in
reining in hatred.
And the way that we’ve done it in this country, sometimes to great effect, is
to publicly stigmatize hate speech and make it clear from those people in
positions of leadership, certainly elected officials but other people in
positions of influence, that this is unacceptable. It needs to be identified.
It needs to be decried and – for what – and deplored for what it is. And in
many other countries in the OSCE region, leaders, public officials have not
done as good a job in this as U.S. officials have so many times. And I think
U.S. officials can persuade their colleagues and other governments to do the
REP. FRANKS: Thank you. I hope that little boy grows up and follows in his
MR. FUSFIELD: That’s very kind of you, thank you.
MS. BURDETT: I’ll add just one recommendation. You know, the best calling
card the United States has in dealing with these problems is our example. It’s
been this way all along in the OSCE with respect to anti-Semitism. And, you
know, when you look at the incidents that some of my colleagues have talked
about – of a list of incidents that I and others have provided, you’ll see,
last week, a 13-year-old girl in Belgium was beaten and called dirty Jew. We
know in Paris, a lot of the examples of incidents are young, young kids beaten
senseless and being told, you’ll pay for what your brothers did in Palestine.
And I think we should start with the most vulnerable victims, the children.
And, you know, we hear the word bullying. We see it on TV. We see shows about
it. Bullying targets Jewish children today in our communities. And it’s
painful. And the stories are painful.
And I want to just tell one story. There is a young man – this isn’t a Jewish
young man, but I think it’s a very powerful example of how we know hate
violence works. And he was beaten up because he was a Mexican-American, beaten
senseless. He had about 40 surgeries just to get back to normal.
And he came and he sat at this table in the Judiciary Committee room, and told
the Judiciary Committee that the system worked for him. The law worked in his
home state of Texas. The police responded perfectly. The community poured out
support for their family. Everything worked. He was a champ. And he came
here triumphantly to talk about how the law worked for him. And about a year
later, he went on a cruise with his family and he jumped off the second deck of
And so I think about that boy, David Richardson (sp), and it reminds me, the
only way to keep hate violence and anti-Semitism from scarring people is really
to prevent it. It’s really the single best thing we can do. And we have the
Tyler Clementi Act pending in the House that addresses bullying. And it will
help those Jewish kids and all kids who were bullied, because the best – the
best tack against anti-Semitism, as we’ve seen in the hate crime work in the
OSCE, is sometimes putting in a system that will help all minority kids.
REP. FRANKS: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. It’s very kind of you to let me
go. You know, sometimes, those of us that love the Israel and the Jewish
people want to find some expression in this congressional environment to come
up with policy that would really help. And that’s why I asked the hard
question. But thank you all very much. Thank you, sir.
REP. SMITH: Chairman Franks, thank you very much for your leadership.
I’d like to now yield to Frank Wolf. Frank Wolf, as you know, is chairman of
the – co-chair of the Lantos Human Rights Commission, but also the Commerce,
Justice, Science and Related Agencies Committee, and before that, State and
Foreign Aid – Foreign Ops Committee.
Just a little quick story: In the mid-1980s, Mr. Wolf and I went to a human
rights conference in Zeeland, Holland. The procurator-general of all of the
Soviet Union was there, bombastically and very arrogantly saying how they had
nothing to hide, and any place that could – we asked the question – any place
we wanted to go, Mr. Wolf, Chairman Wolf and I would be permitted to do. We
said, Perm Camp 35; we want to meet Natan Sharansky. And he said yes.
Two years later and one delay after another, Sharansky was out of that camp.
There were still many other political prisoners and Jewish refuseniks still
there. We got into that camp. We met with Lieutenant-Colonel Assen (ph), the
KGB camp director who was a brute of a man, and his fellow torturers, but we
videotaped every one of the prisoners. And eventually, because of glasnost and
perestroika, that camp closed and all those people were released. But it was a
privilege to join Congressman Wolf at that meeting. When Sharansky saw the
videotape, he broke down and said, they were all my friends. And they were
still left behind, of course. And he went on, obviously, to great – and
continues to do great things.
But I’d like to yield to Chairman Wolf.
REPRESENTATIVE FRANK WOLF (R-VA): Thank you, Chris. I want to thank you (and
thank ?) the panel. I’ll just make a comment. One, I want to thank
particularly Chris for being a leader on these issues from the very beginning,
during the beginning of the Reagan years, and probably has done more on human
rights and religious freedom and anti-Semitism than, frankly, any other member
of the Congress.
I’m concerned that I see the trend going, probably in the – in the wrong way.
And I may be an exception here. But we see the Arab Spring going south in
Egypt. I was in Egypt in July, and I predicted what was taking place and what
took place. We saw just the other day, you have the Muslim Brotherhood taking
over now with a Salafist. The Sinai is wide open. Bad things are happening.
There was anti-Semitic cartoons in the Egyptian press under Mubarak. I predict
you’re going to see things that you never thought you would see coming out of
I think there’s less interest here in Washington and in the Congress and,
frankly, in this administration, than I have ever seen since I have been here
since 1980. President Reagan said, the words in the Constitution were a
covenant with the entire world, and Reagan advocated and pushed Secretary
Shultz when he would go to Moscow, would meet with dissidents, or if they were
imprisoned, would meet with their families. Our embassy was an island of
That doesn’t happen anymore. I see less interest up here, on the Hill, in both
political parties. The religious freedom commission bill that Chris mentioned,
we passed it here in the House months ago, months ago. I think it was a
400-to-something vote. It’s – a couple of senators have it blocked. They want
to reduce the funding of it. And they will be successful in reducing the
funding. And it’s blocked. One or two senators have blocked it. And frankly,
the faith community are saying very, very little about it. It’s just sort of –
I also have a bill passed to create a special envoy to advocate, modeled after
the special envoy for anti-Semitism, to model it after that, for religion
minorities in the Middle East – the Coptic Christians. It passed the House
overwhelmingly. Two senators have it blocked. I mean, the Coptic Christians
in Egypt now are going to face – unbelievable. You’re going to find the
numbers who want to come to the United States soaring. And we have two
senators who have it blocked.
Thirdly, there are not the giants in this institution and this – in town that
used to have – Chris is a giant. Henry Hyde was a giant. Tom Lantos was a
giant. Scoop Jackson was a giant. Tell me, who was the Scoop Jackson in the
United States Senate today? You don’t have to say it for the record, but you
just tell me what you’re thinking of the – name the two or three that really,
same way – and this administration, this administration has been a failure.
The president’s addressing – Cairo is a failure; they’ve done nothing with
regard to what’s taking place with regard to the Muslim Brotherhood over in
So my request to you is – and when you listen to the Republican debates, this
issue never comes up. I don’t blame the candidates; I blame the media. They
don’t think it’s that important. It never comes up. Now, is it the economy?
Is it – that we’re going through high – I don’t know. We’ve gone through high
unemployment and 10 percent unemployment in the Reagan administration, and
there was still a driving interest with regard to Secretary Shultz and
So I would urge you, and those who care deeply in all the faith communities –
and anti-Semitism is particularly bad. I’ve been to Auschwitz. I’ve seen with
Dachau, I’ve seen – we know – speak out and make this an issue. Congressmen
and senators ought to be forced to make decisions on these issues. There
should be votes on these issues. People should go to their town meetings and
ask him about it.
But we got the religious freedom commission bill that’s tied up in the Senate
for three or four months – with what’s taking place in the world today, and we
can’t move it, then I think there’s a problem right here in river city.
I think memory is diminishing and anti-Semitism on the college campuses – I
mean, I watched the rally a while back where Amedi (ph) – what’s this guy? –
Alan Moody (sp) stands up in front of the White House, in front of the White
House, and says, I am Hamas. Do you hear that, White House? And the crowd
cheers. I am Hezbollah, he says, and the crowd cheers. I have the tape. I
saw the tape. And nobody says anything.
And so I think I would urge you to make this an issue in the political process.
All the candidates ought to be asked, what is your position on anti-Semitism?
What do you think’s taking place with the Coptic Christians in the Middle East?
What do you think about the Gaza being – emptying out? What do you think
about these things, and what is your plan? What will you do?
And also, to put pressure on this administration – that’s I think – and I
appreciate Chris Smith having this hearing. That, I think – I want to urge you
to go out and make this an issue, a political issue the same way that it was
during the ’80s with – remember Scoop Jackson, Jackson-Vanik? I mean, where
would’ve the issue – what would’ve happened without Jackson-Vanik? Now, this
Congress will give MFN to anybody for anything for trade or for business. I
mean, that – you know, man does not live by bread alone, you know. And so
that’s what I would urge you, and that’s what I wanted to comment. Just take
this issue out and make this an issue in every political race, every House
race, every Senate race. Everyone ought to be asked what is their position on
anti-Semitism, on the persecution of people of faith, on human rights.
Bashir, the head of Sudan, is an indicted war criminal. Hu Jintao invited him
to a red carpet treatment, a red carpet welcome in Beijing. And nobody said a
word about it.
Thanks for what you’re doing. I particularly want to thank Chris Smith for
what he does. Thank you. I yield back.
REP. SMITH: Chairman Wolf, thank you for your outstanding statement and
leadership for 30 years. (Chuckles.) Really do appreciate it. Would anyone
want to respond to anything Chairman Wolf has said?
MR. LEVIN: Mr. Wolf, I think many of us at this table agree with much of what
you had to say. But I want to answer one question. When you say, where are
the giants?, we’re looking at two of the giants. I know you weren’t looking
for an unsolicited compliment, but you and Congressman Smith and other members
of the commission, whether it’s Senator Cardin and others, are leading the way.
I also would like to say that I agree with you that it’s incumbent upon all of
us to try to do more to reinvigorate our government, be it in the executive or
the legislative, to the concern of global human rights. And you have – at
least you have my commitment that my organization and our members will do
everything we can to try to remind people of the – of the importance of looking
out for our fellow – our fellow men and women around the world.
MR. FUSFIELD: Mr. Chairman, I would echo what was just said. And I would add
that we all represent nonpartisan NGOs. And I think it’s fair to say, we all
agree that human rights is a bipartisan issue if ever there was one.
And I’ll speak now for my organization: We believe that human rights should
remain in the forefront of U.S. foreign policy. We feel that regardless of
which party is in power, either in the executive branch or in Congress, the
emphasis should remain the same.
And, you know, the – we do feel that leadership is being demonstrated in
Congress today, particularly in this venue. The Helsinki Commission, the role
it’s played in identifying the problem of anti-Semitism, has been
indispensable, and we’re grateful for it.
We all need to continue doing whatever we can on all fronts to spotlight these
issues and to generate forward momentum.
REP. WOLF: (Off mic) – Well, I’ll just ask you a question, and you don’t have
to answer. Is there a digshifter (ph) in this administration? Was there a
digshifter (ph) in the Bush administration? Now, if I were asked to answer
that, I would say no to both. You have to – we should have a digshifter (ph)
in every administration. I say this administration has no digshifter (ph). I
say, for the last four years, the Bush administration – (off mic) – they had no
digshifter (ph). And every administration – (off mic) – digshifter (ph), and
that’s what I’m trying say is diminishing because of that concern.
MR.: Yes, Dr. Samuels?
MR. SAMUELS: I’d just like to answer you, Congressman, as a – as a European,
which today is a questionable description, self-description. We fear very
greatly a weak America. A strong America is needed to ensure that Europe
remains on the rails not only economically – politically. And I thank you very
much for everything you’ve just said.
REP. SMITH: Thank you, Chairman Wolf. I’ll just conclude because you’ve been
very patient. We’ll have some questions I’ll submit for the record. But very,
very briefly: You know, Mr. Levin, you talked about privatizing, and – but you
pointed out, in Russia, in your comments on specific countries, that more
alarming is the fact that Russian human rights monitor groups have reported a
steady rise over the last 10 years on the overall attacks by skinheads. You
talked about the concern about violence. You know, but you also made the point
that, you know, it’s not state-sponsored.
But I think, as Dr. Samuels pointed out, indifference – perhaps it’s a
distinction without a difference. When a government is indifferent – as far
back as February of 1996, when I chaired a hearing called “Worldwide
Persecution of Jews,” wearing my hat as human rights subcommittee chair, Paul
Goble made a very important point. And he said, third and most important,
anti-Semitism has been privatized, like much else in the region.
That is to say, in contrast to Soviet times, when the government was in the
position to decide how much anti-Semitism would be manifest and how much would
be sponsored, now the governments are too weak to be in a position to do
something about it. What has changed over those years is the “too weak.” The
Russian government, and Putin et al, are all very strong. They could do much
more. So would you be admonishing them to really take up this cause far more
robustly than they have?
MR. LEVIN: Mr. Chairman, we have – we try to do that on a regular basis. For
a long time, the Russian government diminished the role of the ultranationalist
skinheads and neo-Nazis that have proliferated throughout Russia. And I think
that the recent events over the last year, year and a half – at least some in
the government have begun to change their mind, and have recognized that they
have a serious problem on their hands.
Now, what they’re going – what they’re doing about it is a whole ’nother issue,
and that’s why we continue to press them, specifically, on the recommendations
that we made. But at the very least, they have spoken out on certain specific
incidents. And now we’re saying that’s a good first step. And in one or two
cases, they actually, as I noted in my testimony – they did charge people with
hate crimes, and those individuals were convicted and sentenced.
But there’s a lot more that has to be done. And as I also noted, I mean – I
don’t say this – when I say fortunately, I don’t mean to diminish what’s
happening to other groups – but the attention of these groups have been focused
on ethnic groups primarily from the Caucasus and Central Asia as those
responsible for all the problems in Russia today.
The attention has been diverted away from the Jewish minority, but we all know
that it won’t take much for a neo-Nazi or skinhead to turn his attention back
toward the Jewish community. And the Jewish community in Russia has also been
in the forefront of trying to get its government to recognize that, as a
community, they have specific concerns, but there are also larger issues that
need to be addressed.
So you have our commitment that we’re going to continue to press them.
REP. SMITH: Would anyone else like to respond to –
MS. BURDETT: I would just say that in all 56 of the participating states, the
president, prime minister, and leadership have an opportunity to make the most
significant and immediate difference in this problem. And there may be 56
different agendas and different suggestions for what they could do, but no one
is – no leader is too weak to not be able to move their country a little bit
further forward in what they’re doing.
REP. SMITH: You know, Dr. Samuels – and Trent Franks did respond to this, and
it jumped off the page to me as well – when you pointed out that Ahmadinejad
stated the Holocaust is a lie, he was answered with a wave of international
condemnation. And then you worked down to the point where, you know, he has
repeated, Jews are vermin, a tumor – they’re met with fatigue.
And then you talked about Western timidity – tests the limits of Western
timidity. Anti-Semitism is indifference. You also point out, last week, how
5,000 demonstrators in Cairo, screaming “death to the Jews,” created no global
outrage. Would that also apply to us in Congress, and to the White House and
to other Western capitals?
Because I’ve been shocked by the – I mean, there needs to be a daily
condemnation of this further erosion that’s happening in Egypt, a huge,
strategically important country. I mean, when the peace treaty was signed, it
was a game-changer. And now we’re in a situation of equally ominous events
occurring as we meet here in this hearing.
MR. SAMUELS: In the aftermath of Cast Lead, the Gaza engagement, I was invited
to anchor a BBC World Service phone-in program called “The (sic) World Have
Your Say.” I asked if this was going to be a repeat of the anti-Israeli
programs of the past, and I was ensured that no, this was going to look at the
repercussions for Jewish communities in terms of anti-Semitic incidents.
What it turned out to be was a one-hour program, and after 40 minutes of
fielded-in phone calls that showed only an interest in how opinion of Israel
had deteriorated, I said that I have been taken in, abused, used, and I’m
leaving this program. Now, what was the point of making the – of raising this?
Media has created, among public opinion, a prejudice, an anti-Semitic prejudice
that is new and goes beyond their own government’s policy. In fact, it is
endorsing government’s policy. And here is a tremendous danger. Recently, the
European Jewish press had a conference at which I presented a press charter for
integrity on anti-Semitism, which was five points. I don’t have it in front of
me, but I’d be happy to send it.
This charter, I think, can be reworked. It can be retooled according to the
prevailing psycholinguistics and psycho-environment of each jurisdiction.
However, I think it is most important to focus upon the media. And I know
about First Amendment and I know that there are trans-Atlantic differences on
this, but when we held a conference on the Internet as a vector for hate in
Berlin, Louis Freeh, who was then the head of the FBI, came over and said, help
us to help you.
Not everything in the United States is protected. We all know the Wendell
Jones famous statement, judge – is it Jones? Therefore, I think that it’s very
important that Congress helps on the question of media, helps to point out to
media – gently, certainly not by censorship. The dangers of what is happening
in Europe, I think, is a paradigm that should be greatly avoided in this
country. And by the same means, this country has a role to play. Thank you.
REP. SMITH: Anyone else like to respond? Next week, I’m going to be chairing
a hearing on – with an empty chair in this room – on Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel
Peace Prize winner for last year. I’m one of those who nominated him, led a
congressional effort. He’s a great human rights activist in the People’s
Republic of China.
And I raise that because it would appear that dictatorships and despotics (sic)
all over the world – and that includes in many of these Muslim countries,
where, unfortunately, the radical side has gained the upper hand to the
exclusion of the moderates – we don’t raise the issue. I mean, this is just me
now answering my own question, in a way.
We don’t raise human rights issues consistently, in a transparent fashion, so
that the offending parties know, almost in an absolute predictable fashion, the
United States of America will be on our case every time. No diminution of – or
no gaps when it comes to this. When Hu Jintao came to the United States, he
got a red-carpet treatment, and nary a word was said about human rights,
including in the press conference with Hu Jintao and President Obama – a lost
opportunity beyond words.
I am very fearful that this – Hannah Rosenthal is doing a great job. The
individual-designated, very committed individuals who are not the president,
not the top echelon – in the sense that we’re not either; I’m not – haven’t
made this the priority that I believe it should be. And I hope, you know, we
can get some game-changing going on here, or else we are in for a much worsened
If you could all respond very briefly to – Dr. Samuels, you made a very, very
telling point, and it goes to that very point about consistency. You know, we
should be saying the same thing in every venue, with intensity and with an
understanding of the facts on the ground as it relates to anti-Semitism and
every other human rights issue, but we don’t.
And you point out that at the meeting of states parties, you said, you’re the
same people we meet at Geneva in the U.N. Human Rights Commission; now the
council. Yet here in the OSCE, the language is different. Why the two
different messages, and what can we do to change that? We should make sure
that we’re not doing that as well.
You know, when we’re at the OSCE, everyone is real strong, you know, affirming
the three Ds that Natan Sharansky so eloquently talked about when he talked
about, you know, disagree with Israel on a policy, but don’t matriculate into
anti-Semitism. Could you respond to that? I thought that was a very profound
statement, Dr. Samuels, about – the same diplomats, same country, same heads of
state, different message.
MR. SAMUELS: Mr. Chairman, very, very briefly: I fear that OSCE may be going
in the same direction as other international institutions. We are seeing this
today in UNESCO. We are seeing it in other U.N. agencies, and unfortunately,
unless you – this commission – takes a stand, that may happen, even due to the
Mediterranean partners and through them, in the OSCE. And I think we should be
on our guard. Thank you.
REP. SMITH: Yes. Stacy?
MS. BURDETT: I think one of the main differences – again, the OSCE had a
tradition of being flexible and taking on new human rights challenges. But I
think when we first started this process, we were certainly told, sometimes on
this side of the pond, that you cannot explicitly speak about anti-Semitism in
the OSCE. And we did – we pressed for it – and the sky didn’t fall.
Governments didn’t walk away from the institution.
And I think there are a lot of countries who said it couldn’t be done, and they
themselves are talking about it – and talking about it in pretty forthright
ways. And so I think it’s a model. And we’ve had conversations, looking at
other IGOs, where they’re – they may be trying to hold a hearing and then it
gets cancelled, or it’s not popular for some reason.
I think it’s a slow building. And we do have to really cling to and sustain
that focus in the OSCE. If we look away for a minute, it can erode. But I
think it’s a model of just showing, yeah, we can talk about it. Now, you know,
I mentioned one of these teaching tools is being translated into Turkish. That
might have been something, in 2002, someone would have said would be a pipe
MR. FUSFIELD: You know, one of the features of the OSCE known to all of us is
that it’s a consensus-driven organization, and this is, you know, in some ways
a virtue, and in some ways the bane of the organization, because it can be so
difficult to generate momentum and to mark accomplishments. But this is always
the context in which we’ve been dealing in the OSCE.
And again, I made this point several times, but it reinforces the importance of
U.S. leadership within this environment. There has to be an engine. There has
to be something driving forward progress. We have, as I said in my remarks
earlier – you know, we have the Berlin Declaration from 2004, and it’s a
document that’s hard to improve on. The Berlin Declaration was actually a
statement of the chair in office.
There’s never been – it’s never been incorporated into a ministerial
declaration, which would be the highest – other than a summit statement, that
would be the highest statement coming out of the OSCE. But were we to go that
route, we would face a situation where some governments would want to dumb down
what we already have, chip away at it. And that’s the last thing we would want
to see happen.
So we have to be protective of what we’ve already achieved – at the same time,
fight very hard to go beyond that, not just accept this kind of stasis and
status quo, and move the ball forward. And, you know, we’ve always encountered
resistance up till now, and we’ll continue to. But we just – we just have to
REP. SMITH: Thank you.
MR. LEVIN: Mr. Chairman, I briefly want to remind you of three instances over
the history of the Helsinki Commission, and why – the importance of the
Helsinki Commission, your message to your colleagues, has to be expanded, but
also to the executive branch. Because there has always been tension between
Congress and the executive branch, and it didn’t matter if it was a Republican
or a Democratic administration.
In 1977, Arthur Goldberg was the leader of the U.S. delegation of the first
review conference, when it was the CSCE. And he had to fight, and if it wasn’t
for Dante Fascell and Robert Dole and Spencer Oliver insisting that names be
named, the American delegation wasn’t going to lead that effort. But through
Goldberg and Fascell and others, names were named. In 1980, Max Kampelman was
the leader of the U.S. delegation, and the same thing – going through from 1980
to 1981, there was a reluctance to name names.
But it happened, and it happened because of what started at this commission and
spread to members of Congress. In 1991, the word anti-Semitism never appeared
in any OSCE or CSCE document. So it took 16 years. And why did the word
anti-Semitism finally appear in the document? Well, I’d like to think, partly
because my chairman at the time, Shoshana Cardin, was a public member to the
But it was the U.S. delegation, and there was turmoil within the U.S.
delegation even to push for that. And look how far we’ve come from 1991 to
today. It doesn’t mean that the challenges aren’t still there. But what is
required is the commitment, the ongoing commitment, of the United States
Congress to ensure that when our government is represented at international
conferences, that the right message is put forward.
And that can only happen when there is a bipartisan message coming from
Congress. And I think my colleague Eric mentioned it already, but it needs to
be reinforced: Human rights is a bipartisan effort. And the success that
we’ve enjoyed, as well as trying to meet ongoing challenges, will only continue
if the bipartisanship on this issue continues.
REP. SMITH: Yes, Dr. Samuels.
MR. SAMUELS: Question to you, Mr. Chairman. I don’t know if anyone in
Congress has recognized the fact that in the new government of Greece, which
emerged out of what some thought was a Greek spring – as a hope for the economy
of Greece – the minister for development and the minister for transport are
representatives of not a neo-fascist, but a neo-Nazi party called LAOS, which
has, through its leader, Plevris, has made pronouncements that are horrific –
not only in denying the Holocaust, but speaking of the Jews in medieval ways.
I wouldn’t be surprised if no one in this Congress had noticed that. But
certainly, in Europe, in the European Parliament, nobody is prepared to
pronounce on that. And that is even more worrying.
REP. SMITH: Thank you for that admonishment. We need to speak out. One final
question – I have many, but we’ll submit them for the record – Dr. Samuels, you
mentioned Berlin II. Eric, you talked about implementation, and I think you
rightly suggested that we be careful about what is reopened, because there will
be an attempt to water down and weaken. But the implementation process, idea
of a Berlin II, I think, as a minimal effort – is that something that all of
you would agree with?
Should we, you know, as a commission, make that recommendation to the
administration and to other delegations – use our parliamentary assembly as a
conduit to recommend that there be a full-scale effort to – because it seems to
me that if there’s not something we’re shooting for, we lose our focus.
But when there’s a conference and there’s accountability – at least, hopefully,
some – it does add a measure of, you know, foreign ministers saying, what are
we doing on anti-Semitism? And then that, you know, echoing throughout the
chain of command to really be doing something. And that happens in our own
Next week, I’m reintroducing the Global Online Freedom Act, a much-changed and
much-improved bill. But in this room, in 2006, when I had a hearing with
Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and Cisco, and had a draft that we circulated and
shared with the State Department that included an office to combat global
online freedom issues, they came and announced – not the – an equivalent of an
office, which took the wind out of the sails of the bill right away. But it
In other words, having to give an account led to some real movement where there
had been none before. So I think a Berlin II, or a Vienna II, or a Cordoba –
you know, but certainly, Berlin would be – you know, that was, I thought, the
watershed meeting. Would all of you agree with that? And could you make a –
you know, in addition to your many excellent recommendations proffered here,
give us something that would show real solidarity for that initiative? Eric?
MR. FUSFIELD: Well, I’ll start by expressing my immediate support for the
idea. I think it’s an excellent idea. I would love for the commission to take
this issue up. You know, we had, at one point, in the OSCE, a kind of
unwritten understanding that there would be high-level conferences at regular
intervals. And at some point, the intervals became less regular, and the
conferences became less high-level.
But this is the perfect opportunity. I identified – the three conferences that
took place in ’03, ’04, ’05, and there could be a second installment of each of
the three – but Berlin being the most important of the three. And if ever
there were an occasion for a review conference, you know, an opportunity to
really hold member states accountable for their commitments – and we have the
blueprint – it’s the Berlin Declaration.
But as with all of these OSCE gatherings, it won’t happen unless there is a
driving force behind the idea, a host who’s willing to come forth and organize
the thing. And in the case of a Berlin II conference, it presumably – it might
be the German government, but it doesn’t necessarily – Berlin does not
necessarily have to be the venue for Berlin II, but that remains to be decided.
But it definitely needs support, and the idea should be circulated as broadly
as possible. So thank you.
REP. SMITH: Stacy?
MS. BURDETT: I think it would be important for us to work together in moving
forward a proposal, like we did before Vienna, because a high-level conference
can signal momentum, as it has in Berlin. And if we do the legwork properly,
it could. And if there’s not enough buy-in at the ministers’ level, or by a
country – a group of countries – it can also signal flagging support. So I
think it’s important to do some planning and legwork in thinking about it
together. I’d be glad to do that with you.
REP. SMITH: Thank you.
MR. LEVIN: The issue hasn’t gone away. And we heard that only three countries
submitted any documentation in the last go-around. Now is the time to
reconvene. And I don’t think it – you know, the place is less important than
the purpose. And if there’s a way to send that – to send that message
beginning next week, then it should be done.
REP. SMITH: Thank you.
MR. SAMUELS: Berlin in Dublin may not reflect Irish neutrality in World War
II, but I think it would be a wonderful place to hold it. And I think it
should be held as soon as possible, and not wait for the 10th anniversary of
REP. SMITH: Thank you. Anything else any of our distinguished witnesses would
like to add? If not, thank you for your leadership, your moral courage, and
for your patience as we went through all those votes on the floor today. The