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Eric Fusfield, deputy director of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, spoke at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Berlin conference last week. 

The conference evaluated the ongoing struggle against anti-Semitism in Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Read his remarks below: 


“Madam Chairwoman, distinguished delegates:

“2014 is a year marked by one important anniversary and many horrifying reminders.

“As we honor the 10th anniversary of the OSCE Berlin conference and the historic declaration that emerged from that gathering, evidence abounds that much work remains to be done. The conflict in Gaza this year has given rise to a wave of anti-Israel demonstrations throughout the OSCE region; these gatherings have typically featured blatantly anti-Semitic themes and have often turned violent. Attacks on Jewish individuals and institutions have increased in frequency and intensity, as the landscape from Belgium to Bulgaria, Germany to Greece, Holland to Hungary, and Ireland to Italy has witnessed violence against Jewish targets. This spread of hatred has been accompanied by a corrosion of the public discourse with respect to Jews and Israel and has left European Jewry fearful for their safety and security.

“The rise of anti-Jewish hatred has also resulted 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 nearly 70 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 isolation.

“For more than a decade, the OSCE has taken up the urgent struggle against rising anti-Semitism. High-level conferences in Vienna in 2003 and Berlin in 2004, as well as later conferences, have focused a needed spotlight on this and other forms of intolerance.

“The historic 2004 Berlin Declaration, which provided a series of important recommendations for governments to follow in combating anti-Semitism, specifically addressed the growing problem of anti-Semitic attacks being committed by opponents of Israel’s policies. The passage stating that “international developments or political issues, including those in Israel or elsewhere in the Middle East, never justify anti-Semitism” stands as an important rebuff to those who try to justify hate crimes with politics.

“Permanent Council Decision No. 607, which preceded the Berlin Conference, and Ministerial Decisions Nos. 12-04 and 10-05, which followed it, represent vital affirmations of the OSCE’s commitment to fight anti-Semitism and related forms of racism and xenophobia. That pact has been bolstered by the creation of ODIHR’s indispensable tolerance and non-discrimination unit, which carries out this important work each day and which includes an expert advisor on anti-Semitism, and by the appointment of the Chairman-in-Office’s three personal representatives on combating intolerance.

  • While much has been done to fight anti-Semitism in the past decade, much work remains. The need for practical and effective strategies to combat and defeat this pathology is still crucial. To this end,
  • We must continue to affirm commitments made at the landmark 2004 conference and assess the implementation of those commitments.
  • We should widely promote, within the OSCE, the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency’s comprehensive working definition of anti-Semitism.
  • We must enhance funding for ODIHR’s Tolerance and Non-Discrimination 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 include educational programs on anti-Semitism in more than a dozen countries.
  • We must extend, for the foreseeable future, the terms of the three personal representatives on intolerance.
  • Member-states must fulfill their reporting requirements with respect to hate crimes data. Far too few governments have done so until now.
  • Finally, we must strongly reinforce the crucial principle declared at the 2004 Berlin Conference – That no political position, cause or grievance can ever justify anti-Semitism – and make clear that the demonization and delegitimization of the Jewish state is often none other than a pretext for the hatred of Jews themselves.”