US says Europe needs 'working definition' of anti-Semitism

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March 17, 2016 04:29
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The US encouraged European governments to adopt a working definition of anti-Semitism while condemning the conflation of Diaspora Jewry with the State of Israel, during an international forum in Berlin this week.

Speaking at the third Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism in Berlin on Tuesday, State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ira Forman welcomed the European Commission’s recent move to appoint its first coordinator on combating anti-Semitism and called upon individual member states to follow the continental body’s example.

Explaining that anti-Semitism is “evolving into new, contemporary forms of hatred, racism, and political, social, and cultural discrimination against Jews,” Forman lamented that “one virulent aspect is... conflating Jewish communities with Israel, using criticism of Israel as a pretext for anti-Semitism.”

Citing several occasions in which apparently anti-Semitic incidents were downplayed as being merely anti-Israel, including the scrawling of swastikas in Sweden and the firebombing of a synagogue in Germany, Forman said that it is vital to “define anti-Semitism clearly to more effectively combat it.”

While the issue in indeed complex, Forman stated, there is a line between criticism of Israeli policy and questioning the state’s right to exist. As such, he continued, the United States “encourage[ s] European governments to adopt a working definition of anti-Semitism, ideally one which would include a section on how anti-Semitism relates to Israel, to improve the safety and well-being of Jewish communities in Europe.”

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