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US Lawmakers Urge UN Action On Anti-Semitism


U.S. House lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved a strongly worded resolution urging the United Nations and member states to put an end to anti-Semitic language and political attacks against Israel. Approval comes as legislation moves forward in the House of Representatives proposing to link future U.S. contributions to the United Nations with reform of the world body.

The resolution approved Tuesday states that the "viciousness with which Israel is attacked and discriminated at the United Nations should not be allowed to continue unchallenged."

It calls on President Bush to direct the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations to work against Anti-Semitic language and anti-Israel resolutions.

But as Congresswoman Ilena Ros-Lehtinen notes, the resolution aims to bring about stronger action from the United Nations itself.

"The resolution before us calls for the United Nations to officially and publicly condemn anti-Semitic statements in all U.N. meetings and hold accountable member states who make such statements," Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said.

Saying the United Nations has permitted itself to be used as a battleground for political warfare against Israel led by Arab and other states, the resolution notes Israel has been subject to some 24 critical resolutions annually in the U.N. General Assembly.

All of this is despite a statement by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that the world cannot be silent in the face of resurgent anti-Semitism, adoption of a resolution on religious tolerance, and a special session earlier this year commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

The resolution, which is not binding on the United Nations in any way, had strong support from Democrats and Republicans.

Congressman Steny Hoyer says the resolution should send this message.

"Anti-Semitism is unacceptable in any corner of the world, in any forum in the world, but particularly so in the forum committed to world peace, [and] to world understanding,” said Congressman Hoyer. “And members who believe they can act with impunity are wrong and they must be held accountable. They must know that their anti-Semitic statements and actions not only affect their relationship with this nation but also eviscerate their credibility in the family of civilized nations."

House approval of the resolution came a day before the House International Relations Committee considers wide-ranging legislation concerning efforts to reform the United Nations.

Citing scandals such as the Oil for Food Program, the legislation's author Congressman Henry Hyde proposes that the United States withhold half of its contributions if the U.N. fails to make significant changes.

U.N. officials have urged Congress not to pass legislation that seeks to use U.S. contributions as a tool to accelerate reforms.

Tuesday's anti-Semitism resolution says the U.S. State Department report on International Religious Freedom should include information on anti-Semitic activities by U.N. member states. They also urge enhanced programming by U.S.-funded broadcasting stations to educated Arab and Muslim countries about religious intolerance and incitement to violence.

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