Smith Helps Lead U.S. Delegationto Historic Summit on Anti-Semitism
Praises New Jersey Holocaust Education Program asmodel initiative for other nations to use to combat hatred
Congressman Chris Smith (R-Hamilton), Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and Vice Chairman of the House Committee on International Relations, today delivered a major policy speech in Berlin focusing on what nations of the world can do to combat anti-Semitism.
The international session, sponsored by the 55 country-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), was first proposed by Smith in 2002. It has provided U.S. and European legislators with a forum to work together to mitigate the recent rise of anti-Semitic incidents.
Secretary of State Collin Powell also attended the conference, exhibiting the Bush Administration's steadfast commitment to defeating anti-Semitism. The U.S. Delegation, of which Smith serves as Vice Chairman, is being headed-up by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.
Below are excerpts from the speech Smith will deliver on Wednesday:
"We gather against the backdrop of a spike of anti-Semitic violence that has swept through much of the OSCE region, particularly in Western Europe. Unparalleled since the dark days of the Second World War, Jewish communities throughout Europe and North America again are facing violent attacks against synagogues, Jewish cultural sites, cemeteries and individuals. It is an ugly reality that won't go away by ignoring or by wishing it away
"This increase in violence is a chilling reminder that our societies still harbor a dangerous collection of bigots and racists who hate Jews
"We hope the results of this Conference will serve as a blueprint for serious and hopefully bold action. Our words here in Berlin, however, must be repeated at home, with frequency, passion and tenacity and matched - and even exceeded - by deeds.
"If our fight is to succeed, we need government officials at all levels to, without hesitation or delay, denounce anti-Semitic acts wherever and whenever they occur. No exceptions. The purveyors of hate never take a holiday or grow weary, nor should we. Holocaust remembrance and tolerance education must dramatically expand, and we need to ensure that our respective laws punish those who hate and incite violence against Jews
"When national leaders fail to denounce anti-Semitic violence and slurs, the void is not only demoralizing to the
victims but silence actually enables the wrongdoing. Silence by elected officials in particular conveys approval - or at least acquiescence - and can contribute to a climate of fear and a sense of vulnerability .
"Finally, if we are to protect our children from the dark evil of anti-Semitism, we must reeducate our selves and systematically educate our children. While that starts in our homes, the classroom must be the incubator of tolerance. It seems to me that only the most hardened racist can remain unmoved by Holocaust education and remembrance. Only the most crass, evil, and prejudiced among us can study the horrors of the Holocaust and not cry out: Never again!...
"In 1991, my home state of New Jersey established the Commission on Holocaust Education to promote Holocaust and genocide education standards throughout my state. The Commission is unique, and perhaps a model for others, as it regularly surveys the status of Holocaust education and the design of curricula to ensure that all schools are teaching about the Holocaust and genocide.
The Commission has developed more than 2,000 pages of material to aid New Jersey educators in teaching children about this painful, but important, topic. The New Jersey Commission is an innovative model for other OSCE participating States and local governments to emulate "
Smith has won passage of a number of resolutions in Congress and in international assemblies condemning anti-Semitism and urging tough penalties for those who commit anti-Semitic crimes. In numerous international assemblies and forums, Smith has led the charge against global anti-Semitism and launched the effort to hold the conference in Berlin next month.
Last year, as a precursor to the Berlin forum, Smith joined another former New York Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, on the U.S. delegation to a similar assembly in Vienna.