Sep 29, 2004
A key congressional panel that has the prime jurisdiction over US foreign policy today approved legislation authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) to combat Anti-Semitism through the creation of a monitoring office and new reporting standards for acts of Anti-Semitism both here and abroad. Smith coauthored the amendment with Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) a holocaust survivor. "It is essential that effective mechanisms be put in place to improve and strengthen the ability of our government to combat the evil of anti-Semitism whenever and wherever it occurs."
said Smith, the Vice Chairman of the International Relations Committee, which unanimously reported the legislation to the House floor. "There has been an alarming rise in Anti-Semitism and we must move swiftly and aggressively to identify and mitigate these acts of bigotry both world-wide.
Smith offered his legislation as an amendment to a bill already adopted by the Senate, the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act (S. 2292). S. 2292, authored by Senator Voinovich, requires annual reports on acts of Anti-Semitism including acts of physical violence and harassment against Jewish people as well as acts of vandalism against Jewish community institutions.
Smith’s amendment strengthens the bill significantly by creating a new Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism in the U.S. State Department, by appointing a Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism and by enhancing the reporting requirements created in the original bill..
"A point person specifically tasked with focusing on Anti-Semitism will increase the ability of the United States to respond quickly and effectively when incidents arise. Considering that Anti-Semitism plagues all regions of the world, this special office will ensure that the United States resolutely denounces acts of Anti-Semitism across the board, including state-sponsored Anti-Semitism in Syria and elsewhere
," stated Rep. Smith.
Smith’s measure also establishes greater additional requirements for reporting on anti-Semitism in the State Department’s annual reports to Congress on Human Rights Practices
and International Religious Freedom.
By setting forth criteria for the State Department, it will aid U.S. embassies in more thoroughly and consistently covering the issue of Anti-Semitism. The amendment requires the examination of:
- physical violence against Jews or vandalism of Jewish community institutions;
- propaganda in government and non-government media that attempt to incite acts of violence against Jews;
- governmental responses to violence or propaganda;
- governmental actions to enact and enforce laws relating to the protection of religious freedom of Jews; and
- governmental efforts to promote anti-bias and tolerance education.
The Smith/Lantos amendment will also maintain the one-time State Department report on global anti-Semitism mandated by S. 2292. Setting a benchmark for individual countries around the globe, the report will compile by country the number of acts of physical violence against Jews or vandalism of Jewish community institutions and government responses to such actions. In addition, the report will detail steps taken by governments to protect the religious freedoms of Jewish people and describe governmental efforts to promote anti-bias and tolerance education.
"Recognizing the crucial role the media plays to discourage or encourage Anti-Semitic acts, the Smith/Lantos amendment adds into the report, coverage of propaganda in government and non-government media that attempts to incite acts of violence against Jews," said Smith. "By requiring a compilation of Anti-Semitic media propaganda coverage, we make the one-time global report on Anti-Semitism more complete by exposing the source of an enormous amount of Anti-Semitic vitriol."