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European Conference on Anti-Semitism Back On - 2004-01-09

The head of the European Commission says he will revive plans for a colloquium on anti-semitism in Europe, after he and leaders of the Jewish community resolved a dispute over the issue.

The highly public quarrel between the European Commission and the World Jewish Congress errupted Monday, when the Financial Times newspaper published a letter accusing Romano Prodi and the EU commission of intellectual dishonesty and moral treachery. The letter, signed by two leading members of the World Jewish Congress, said that the European Union had censored a study on rising attacks against Jews and the involvement of Arab minorities.

It also accused the EU executive agency of publishing a flawed poll about European opinions about Israel. In that poll, Israel was reportedly named a higher threat to world peace than any other country.

The letter was signed by the president of the World Jewish Congress, Edgar Bronfman, and the head of its European branch, Coby Benatoff.

Mr. Prodi, president of the EU Commission, responded angrily to the letter, saying he was shocked by the accusations, and shelving plans for a seminar on fighting anti-Semitism in Europe.

A meeting was hastily organized between the chairman of the board of the World Jewish Congress, Israel Singer, and Mr. Prodi at EU headquarters in Brussels to ease the tension.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr. Prodi said cooperation between the two institutions was "fully restored on the basis of concrete mutual trust." And he said plans for the conference on anti-Semitism, expected to take place next month, were back on.