Declaration to fight anti-Semitism signed in London

International statement notes dramatic increase in anti-Semitism disseminated in the media and attacks targeting Jews and their property.

By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT, LONDON
February 18, 2009 23:16
3 minute read.
Declaration to fight anti-Semitism signed in London

anti semitic grass 248. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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A declaration pledging to challenge anti-Semitism was signed on behalf of all participating nations on Tuesday, the final day of the London Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism. Noting the dramatic increase in anti-Semitism being disseminated in the media and attacks targeting Jewish persons and property, the London Declaration was signed by 125 parliamentarians from 40 countries. It called on national governments, parliaments, international institutions, political and civic leaders and civil society to "affirm democratic and human values, build societies based on respect and citizenship and combat any manifestations of anti-Semitism and discrimination." It made the promise that the parliamentarians affirm their commitment to a comprehensive program of action to meet this challenge. "We are alarmed at the resurrection of the old language of prejudice and its modern manifestations - in rhetoric and political action - against Jews, Jewish belief and practice and the State of Israel," the statement said. Confirmed at a press conference on Tuesday, the declaration made reference in particular to Venezuela and Iran stating: "We are alarmed by government-backed anti-Semitism in general and state-backed genocidal anti-Semitism, in particular." Signatories also pledged to expose, challenge and isolate those who engage in hate against Jews and target the State of Israel as a Jewish collective. It also called upon governments to challenge any form of Holocaust denial. Again in reference to Iran it stated "any foreign leader, politician or public figure who denies, denigrates or trivializes the Holocaust" must be challenged. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Natan Sharansky, who attended the conference, was impressed with its organization and content. "Of course a lot will depend on what will follow but it is significant that the conference was held in London. If you look at the new anti-Semitism, the leading force is the UK," he said. Earlier in the day parliamentarians called on their respective governments and the UN to "never again to allow the institutions of the international community to be abused for the purposes of trying to establish any legitimacy for anti-Semitism." The parliamentarians issued a declaration stating that the international community must "not be witness or party to another gathering like Durban in 2001" in reference to the infamous UN "anti-racism" conference in which the focus on Israel, to the exclusion of all other issues, was widely perceived as anti-Semitic. The declaration calls for the European Union Council of Ministers to address the issue of combating anti-Semitism; the exposure and isolation of governments and individual politicians who engage in hate against Jews and the establishment of an international taskforce of Internet specialists to measure racism and anti-Semitism online and propose international responses. "There is a new sophisticated, globalizing, virulent and even lethal anti-Semitism, reminiscent of the atmospherics of the '30s and without parallel or precedent since the end of the Second World War," former Canadian attorney-general and founding co-chair of the conference, Irwin Cotler, said. "Silence is not an option. This time has come not only to sound the alarm but to act. For as history has taught us only too well: while it may begin with Jews, it does not end with Jews. Anti-Semitism is the canary in the mineshaft of evil, and it threatens us all," he added. "The Internet, the globalization of the media, a resurgence of the extreme right and an anti-Zionist hard left have combined to create a febrile environment, in which the spread of old and new anti-Semitic theories and attitudes have been able to gain traction with alarming ease," said John Mann MP, chair of the Parliamentary Committee Against Anti-Semitism. "The Durban conference was amongst the manifestations of this trend. "Anti-Semitism is a touchstone for other ills within wider society and unless we move to address its spread now, and as a matter of the utmost urgency, we will all pay a heavy price," he added. The London conference was hosted by the Interparliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA), the British Foreign Office and the Department of Communities and Local Government. During the two-day conference, parliamentarians and experts hammered out a series of strategies to tackle global anti-Semitism.

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