UK pledges to combat anti-Semitism

Government expresses support for strong legislation against racial, religious discrimination and crimes.

By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
February 17, 2009 03:11
2 minute read.
UK pledges to combat anti-Semitism

anti semitism UK 248.88 ap. (photo credit: AP [file])

 
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With the opening of the London conference on combating anti-Semitism, the British government has reaffirmed its determination to confront anti-Semitism and commitment toward stamping it out as a global threat. Speaking at the launch of the two-day conference at the Wallace Collection in central London on Sunday night, Sadiq Khan, minister for Community Cohesion, spoke of the government's concerns and determination to combat anti-Semitism. "We are specifically concerned about significant indications that, unlike other forms of racism, anti-Semitism is being accepted within parts of society instead of being condemned. We are also aware that current rhetoric about Israel and Zionism, from the far right, the far-left and extremists alike, employs anti-Semitic motifs that are consistent with ancient forms of hatred towards Jews," he said. "I reaffirm as a government we are committed to tackling all forms of hate crime and racial intolerance, including anti-Semitism, wherever it exists. We believe that the best way to do this is through the effective implementation of strong legislation against racial and religious discrimination and racially and religiously motivated crime, underpinned by policies and strategies to increase racial equality and build community cohesion, particularly through education," he added. He praised the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA) for organizing a conference that will formulate new strategies to counter global anti-Semitism. "This conference will act as a unique opportunity to discuss practical action that needs to be taken to counter the resurgent threat, to share knowledge, experiences, best practice and recommendations," Khan said. "While I am pleased that we are hosting such a prestigious event in London, it is important not to lose sight of the concerns Jewish communities in the UK have over recent manifestations of anti-Semitism." Labor MP John Mann, chair of the UK's Parliamentary Committee Against Anti-Semitism, welcomed participants, saying: "We're meeting because anti-Semitism is on the rise. There must be a fight-back and we parliamentarians are willing to lead from the front. Jewish communities across the world should know that they are not alone," he said. "We are proud to be joined by national leaders across the political spectrum, who stand united and ready to confront this oldest hatred in the newest of settings," Mann added. The London conference is the first time that lawmakers will meet with leading academics, legal experts and specialists to look at ways in which governments can fight global anti-Semitism. The first day of the conference was divided into working groups bringing together parliamentarians, experts and academics to look at practical strategies for dealing with the issue. Based in the House of Commons, the working groups looked at best practices across the globe. The discussions will lead to the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism, which will be announced at a press conference at Lancaster House on Tuesday afternoon. Speaking as guest of honor at Monday's conference dinner, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini spoke about the scope and impact of global anti-Semitism and called for multi-lateral as well as European Union action to tackle the threat.

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