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Commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day

Location: Washington, DC

COMMEMORATION OF HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY -- (Extensions of Remarks - April 22, 2004)


Mr. HOLDEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today as we join together at the United States Capitol to observe the national commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Also known as Yom HaShoah, a Hebrew term for "The Holocaust," this is an internationally recognized day set aside each year to remember the victims of the Holocaust and to remind each of us what can happen when bigotry and hatred are not confronted.

The Holocaust's magnitude of destruction with more than 12 million deaths--6 million Jews, including 1.5 million children (more than 2/3 of European Jewry) and 6 million others-challenges comprehension. Studying the Holocaust presents a framework of many relevant moral issues. The Holocaust illustrates the consequences of prejudice, racism and stereotyping on a society. It forces us to examine the responsibilities of citizenship and confront the powerful ramifications of indifference and inaction. The Holocaust also shows us how a combination of events and attitudes can erode a society's democratic values.

As we commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, we must acknowledge that anti-Semitism and other dangers still exist. Acts of anti-Semitism in countries throughout the world, including some of the world's strongest democracies, have increased significantly in frequency and scope over the last several years. During the first 3 months of 2004, there were numerous instances of anti-Semitic violence around the world. For instance:

In Australia, poison was used to ignite, and burn anti-Semitic slogans into, the lawns of the Parliament House in the state of Tasmania;

In St. Petersburg, Russia, vandals desecrated approximately 50 gravestones in a Jewish cemetery, painting the stones with swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti;

In Toulon, France, a Jewish synagogue and community center were set on fire;

And just 4 weeks ago in Toronto, Canada, vandals attacked a Jewish school, a Jewish cemetery, and area synagogues, painting swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans on the walls of a synagogue and on residential property in a nearby, predominantly Jewish, neighborhood.

Anti-Semitism in old and new forms is also increasingly emanating from the Arab and Muslim world on a sustained basis, including through books published by government-owned publishing houses throughout the Arab region.

The sharp rise in anti-Semitic violence has caused international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to elevate, and bring renewed focus to, the issue, including the convening by the OSCE in June 2003 of a conference in Vienna dedicated solely to the issue of anti-Semitism. The OSCE will again convene a conference dedicated to addressing the problem of anti-Semitism on April 28-29, 2004, in Berlin, with the United States delegation to be led by former Mayor of New York City Ed Koch.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of the manner in which Congress has consistently supported efforts to address the rise in anti-Semitic violence. In that spirit we must ensure the United States Government remains strongly committed to supporting international efforts to address anti-Semitism through bilateral relationships and interaction with international organizations such as the OSCE, the European Union, and the United Nations. It is in this spirit that we can truly say, "Never Again."


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