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US Lawmakers Urge Action Against Anti-Semitic Attacks in Europe - 2002-07-09


The U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling on European governments to take stronger action to prevent anti-Semitic attacks.

The resolution cites a string of anti-Semitic incidents across Europe in recent months, specifically in France, Belgium and Germany.

The measure calls on European governments to take all necessary steps to protect the safety and well-being of their Jewish communities. And it urges governments to cultivate an atmosphere of cooperation and reconciliation among Jewish and non-Jewish residents of Europe.

In statements on the House floor, lawmakers lamented social and political factors in European countries that have permitted a resurgence of anti-semitism.

Congressman Tom Lantos blames what he calls "misguided" left-wing groups in Europe, as well as neo-Nazis, and he identifies what he calls a new factor. "We have a new element, the extremist Islamic and Arab populations of Europe are contributing powerfully to anti-Semitism," he said, "and it is incumbent upon the governments of Europe to fight these forces."

The upsurge in attacks on Jewish sites in Europe this year coincided with Israeli military actions in the West Bank in response to Palestinian suicide terrorist attacks - although observers note that European anti-semitism has been on the rise for many years.

France has 700,000 Jews and five million Muslims, the largest population of the two groups in western Europe.

Another U.S. lawmaker, Congressman Joe Hoeffel of Pennsylvania, said all governments must draw a firm line against anti-semitic attacks. "To speak out, speak out loudly, to denounce it, to make sure everybody knows how unacceptable hatred and intolerance is," he said. "We will win this victory if we step forward, and if people around the world step forward, and say that anti-Semitism is un-American, that it is un-German, that it is un-French, that it is un-Ukrainian, that it is against the basic principles of a civilized people wherever it happens around the world."

Anti-Semitic incidents this year have included arson or vandalism against synagogues in major French cities, as well as in Berlin, Brussels, London and Russian cities.

In April, the World Jewish Congress appealed to European governments to do a better job of protection.

Last week, the Simon Weisenthal Center, which is dedicated to preserving memories and awareness of the holocaust, said French authorities had pledged to do everything necessary to stop attacks on the Jewish community in France, and that such attacks would be considered hate crimes.

The House resolution on anti-Semitism in Europe, approved Tuesday by a vote of 412-0, is merely an expression of congressional opinion and is not sent to the President for signature. An identical bill is still pending in the Senate.

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