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US Senate Concerned About Rise of Anti-Semitism in Europe, Arab World

The U.S. Senate is expressing its concern about recent attacks against Jewish targets in Europe. Senators are also concerned about what they see as rising anti-Semitic rhetoric in the Arab press.

The Senate has sent a letter to the White House calling on the Bush administration to contact European and Arab governments and state its strong objections to the anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric.

Two key members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Friday released the letter, signed by 99 Senators. Only Republican Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who is recovering from open heart surgery, did not sign.

The letter describes a number of recent attacks on synagogues, Jewish schools and cemeteries in several European countries. It also offers examples of anti-Semitic language that appeared in newspapers throughout the Arab world.

"Within the letter it set forth some of the examples of anti-Semitism that is not only incredible that it occurs in the countries of Europe, which saw a Holocaust just a few decades ago, but seeing a repetition of the beginnings of anti-Semitic cancer, which unless it is stopped, could lead to another period of hatred and death," said Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin.

"Much of this type of persecution gave rise to the conflict in World War II. We cannot allow that to happen again," said Virginia Senator John Warner, the committee's ranking Republican.

Mr. Levin underscored his concern about anti-Semitic rhetoric in the Arab press. "Young minds are poisoned by the anti-Semitism that exists in the media in too many Arab countries. That means that hatred and division and war will get perpetruated from generation to generation unless governments act to stop the disease of anti-Semitism," Mr. Levin said.

Many of the incidents documented in the letter coincided with Israel's military offensive in the Palestinian territories. But Senator Levin said there is no excuse for such acts. "None of that can be justified, defended, by any decent person. We can argue over all kinds of issues, debate all kinds of issues in the Middle East. This should not be debatable. This should not in any way be justified, condoned," he said.

Mr. Levin said anti-Semitic incidents in Europe have been on the rise for years. He said several hundred attacks against Jewish targets were documented in France between November 2000 and November 2001.