|February 17th, 2008||#1|
The Legal Situation with the EU
[What's important to grasp here is that jewish organizations are trying to bind the U.S. to various international or supranational bodies with laws forbidding free speech. The jewish aim is to subject the entire world to 'Holocaust'-'denial' laws and 'hate speech' laws - laws already in place in much of Europe, as well as in Canada and in Australia. Whatever can be done to impede the ability of White men to speak against the jewish politics and policies undermining their countries, the jews will pursure, from a dozen different angles. What you have here, essentially, is jews working with European counterparts to find ways around the First Amendment, the one global bulwark against Jewish Tyranny/Thoughtcrimes Division. And to create bodies recording every tiniest act of "anti-semitism," so that jews can continue to perpetrate the myth that they are the world's most beleaguered victims rather than its most vicious persecutors.]
European Union (EU)
Oranization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
US Helsinki Commission
February 17, 2008
TAKING STOCK: COMBATING ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE OSCE REGION (PART 2)
February 7, 2008 - 406 Dirksen Senate Office Building
View Hearing Webcast
Name Title Affiliation
Hon. Alcee L. Hastings Chairman Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin Co-Chairman Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Hon. George V. Voinovich Senator United States Senate
Dr. Gregg Rickman Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating
Anti-Semitism Department of State
Ms. Felice D. Gaer Commissioner U.S. Commission on INternational Religious Freedom
Rabbi Marvin Hier Founder and Dean Simon Wiesenthal Center
Rabbi Andrew Baker Director of International Jewish Affairs American Jewish Committee
Mr. Mark B. Levin Executive Director NCSJ
Ms. Stacy Burdett Associate Director of Government and National Affairs Anti-Defamation League
Last edited by Alex Linder; September 4th, 2012 at 08:50 AM.
|February 17th, 2008||#2|
Hearing :: Taking Stock: Combating Anti-Semitism in the OSCE Region (Part 2)
UNITED STATES COMMISSION ON SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE
(HELSINKI COMMISSION) HOLDS HEARING ON ANTI-SEMITISM IN
THE OSCE REGION, PART TWO
FEBRUARY 7, 2008
REP. ALCEE L. HASTINGS, D-FLA., CHAIRMAN
REP. LOUISE M. SLAUGHTER, D-N.Y.
REP. MIKE MCINTYRE, D-N.C.
REP. HILDA L. SOLIS, D-CALIF.
REP. G.K. BUTTERFIELD, D-N.C.
REP. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, R-N.J.
REP. ROBERT B. ADERHOLT, R-ALA.
REP. MIKE PENCE, R-IND.
REP. JOSEPH R. PITTS, R-PENN.
SEN. BENJAMIN L. CARDIN, D-MD., CO-CHAIRMAN
SEN. CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, D-CONN.
SEN. RUSSELL D. FEINGOLD, D-WIS.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.
SEN. JOHN F. KERRY, D-MASS.
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK, R-KAN.
SEN. GORDON H. SMITH, R-ORE.
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS, R-GA.
SEN. RICHARD BURR, R-N.C.
DR. GREGG RICKMAN,
SPECIAL ENVOY TO MONITOR AND COMBAT ANTI-SEMITISM,
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
MS. FELICE D. GAER,
U.S. COMMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
RABBI ANDREW BAKER,
DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL JEWISH AFFAIRS,
AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE
RABBI MARVIN HIER,
DEAN AND FOUNDER,
SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER
MR. MARK LEVIN,
NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SOVIET JEWRY
MS. STACY BURDETT,
GOVERNMENT AND NATIONAL AFFAIRS,
[The hearing was held at 2:30 p.m. in Room 406, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C., Alcee L. Hastings, Chairman, moderating.]
HASTINGS: All right. Ladies and gentlemen, let me gather the hearing to order. Welcome to the second of our hearings focused on efforts to combat anti-Semitism within the OSCE region.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the first hearing, due to commitments in Florida. I'm pleased that we'll be continuing the conversation today with key partners from the NGO community.
I'm very happy that a little later Senator Voinovich is going to be here and, of course, my co-chairman and good friend, Ben Cardin. And I would say Senator Voinovich, were he here, and I will say to him when he's here, that I hope he continues to join us at commission hearings.
And particularly on February 13th, the Finnish OSCE chair in office, Mr. Ilkka Kanerva, will be before the commission, and I'm certain what we do here is going to be covering many of the matters that he would bring up. And in addition, I know that they will be on the agenda. For the purposes of our audience, that hearing is going to take place in B-318 in the Rayburn House Office Building at 11 a.m. on February 13th.
It's good to see so many familiar faces here today. Many of you I last saw at the OSCE Mediterranean Partners in Tel Aviv, where we focused on the roles Israel and Arab nations could also play in combating all forms of intolerance.
In my talks with President Olmert during that visit, I highlighted the important role Israel has and continues to play in supporting efforts to combat all forms of intolerance within the OSCE region.
Looking back from where we started, it is remarkable that we are at a point where OSCE partner states are now looking at issues of tolerance, when just a few years ago we were fighting for OSCE participating states to simply acknowledge that there was a problem. We have indeed come a long way.
Obviously, you recognize that the co-chair of the commission, Ben Cardin, has joined us, and I only digress to point out that this capital is amazing. I have always thought that was just a mirrored wall, and all of a sudden it has senators appearing out of it.
During part of this series, we not only heard from the two OSCE experts most closely following trends involving anti-Semitism and related violence, but also of the numerous initiatives, including the personal representatives conferences, educational tools and training programs since our efforts in the beginning in 2002 to raise the profile of these concerns within the OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly.
In our government, thanks to the work of our commissioners such as Senator Voinovich and Chris Smith and Senator Cardin and myself, there is now a special envoy to monitor global anti-Semitism within our own State Department.
Dr. Rickman, we're glad that you are able to join us today. It is because of the extraordinary efforts within the OSCE, our own government and NGOs, who are in the trenches every day, that I'm deeply saddened by continued reports of hate crimes and other acts of anti-Semitism in the OSCE region.
Even with reports of anti-Semitism decreasing in my home state of Florida, vandals brandishing swastikas and other sentiments are still a reminder that we must be ever vigilant, lest the prejudices of some gain foothold, as we are seeing with the surge and growth of extremist groups in other parts of the OSCE region.
It has become abundantly clear why the protection of the rights of members of minorities and combating discrimination against those targeted because of their religion, race, national origin or gender are core principles of the Helsinki process and their essential role in sustaining stable, productive, democratic societies.
It is my hope that today's hearing will share further light on what more we all can do to uphold these principles, as we review and continue our efforts to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance.
As I was speaking, not from the magic mirror, Senator Voinovich appeared, and also my colleague and commissioner, Hilda Solis, to my immediate left and my good friend, Chris Smith, who I had mentioned in my remarks, as I did Senator Voinovich earlier, from New Jersey.
I'd like now to open the floor to any of the commissioners, and I would also kind of apologize in advance. It's hard to apologize for working, but I have an amendment on the floor at 3 p.m. on the House side, so I'll go to that and then return, but we'll be in good hands, I'm sure, during that time.
So, Senator Cardin?
CARDIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And we always welcome you over to the Senate side. You may not want to let your colleagues know that you're over here, but you're always welcome. Let me, though, thank you for your leadership, not just in the United States Congress and on the OSCE Commission, but as president of the Parliamentary Assembly and as an international leader, for the work that you have done to further strategies to combat all forms of anti-Semitism.
At the last hearing I commented about Chris Smith and Senator Voinovich and their extraordinary leadership on these issues. There's no question that we would not have had all the activities within the OSCE but for the leadership of Chris Smith, Alcee Hastings, George Voinovich and others.
They took time to lobby this issue before the governmental sector of OSCE, at the ministerial meetings, and just stuck with this issue so that we could get the type of action plan adopted that affects not only the OSCE states, but I think sets the template for dealing with anti-Semitism globally. So I'm very proud of my colleagues.
This is the second of a series of hearings that we've had on the status of anti-Semitism within the OSCE region. The chairman called the first hearing, in which we heard from Dr. Meyer, as well as from our colleague, Gert Weisskirchen.
Dr. Meyer, of course, was stationed with ODIHR and responsible for dealing with anti-Semitism within the ODIHR and OSCE. And Professor Weisskirchen is not only a parliamentarian from Germany, but also the special representative from the chair in office to deal with anti-Semitism.
There has been some mixed news as it relates to anti-Semitism. On the one hand, we're at record levels. Dr. Meyer pointed out that the spike that we saw in anti-Semitism at the beginning of this century has continued at a very high level. On the other hand, we see progress that is being made -- real progress.
In Great Britain we know that they not only accumulated a great deal of information concerning incidents of anti-Semitism and hate crimes, but have actually taken some leadership positions on holocaust education and other issues.
In the Russian Federation we saw the leaders speak out against anti-Semitism, a sign that we think shows it has the leadership necessary to deal with those problems. In the Ukraine we saw a special security division developed to deal with hate crime type of activities.
So we've seen some progress within the OSCE region, and I believe that most of the states are taking these issues seriously, trying to develop strategies to combat anti-Semitism. But the problem still exists.
I personally just want to acknowledge the work that's been done in OSCE. This has been a commitment that we have been working on for many, many years. We've had many conferences. There have been lots of action plans that have been passed.
I want to acknowledge the panel that we have here today that I think is just a distinguished group. I particularly want to thank Dr. Rickman for being here, who is the State special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism. That's a position that we sought, and we're glad that you're here, and we're glad that that position has been functioning.
I want to particularly thank Rabbi Andy Baker, who was with me in Berlin, and Mark Levin, who was with me in Berlin, and other of our anti-Semitism efforts that we were working for. The American Jewish Committee and the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, along with the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League have all been playing critical roles in dealing with or fighting the problems of anti-Semitism and helping develop our strategies.
So I want to welcome all of our witnesses here today and thank them for their partnership with us in developing a strategy so we can make a difference on plaguing the rise of anti-Semitism.
HASTINGS: Thank you very much, Senator Cardin.
Senator Voinovich? You're recognized, sir.
VOINOVICH: Chairman Hastings has been reminding me this is the Environment and Public Works hearing, back in our respective seats.
I'd like to thank you very, very much for holding this hearing today and also for your support of the meeting that we had on the 29th. I would be very remiss if I didn't express my appreciation to you for your leadership. I think much of the progress that we made in the OSCE because of your leadership there has made it a lot easier for us.
And of course, Chris Smith and Senator Cardin, you've been just spectacular.
And it's nice to see my neighbor, Representative Solis, here today. We both live in the same condominium -- different units.
And the thing is that that leadership has been very, very important, and we've made great progress in the OSCE.
Some of you may have heard this before, but it's been 25 years since I was in Israel the second time. And at that time I visited Yad Vashem, and I visited the Diaspora Museum, and even though I was very familiar with the holocaust and what went on, I will never forget the impression that both played on me.
And I left the Diaspora Museum feeling very ashamed of what Christians had done to Jews over the centuries. It's very interesting that Pope John Paul II had the same feeling that I had. And I left there, and I said to myself, if this ever happens in my lifetime, I'm going to do something about it. I am not going to remain silent.
And I have to tell you I never thought that I'd ever have to do it. I just couldn't believe that we'd see this ugly head of anti-Semitism up again.
And it was at a meeting in 2002 of May that some of the same speakers that are here today came and shared with us what was going on. And I have to say that when we heard that, we got together, and, as you know, we had a rum session in Berlin in July, and the rest is history. And I'm not going to go into all of the ups and downs and so on and so forth, but the fact of the matter is that we have made some great progress. But, as Senator Cardin says, we still have a great way to go.
And, Dr. Rickman, we're very pleased because of the Global Anti-Semitism Bill and the reports that we're now getting and the work that you're doing, that we're getting the kind of attention that I think that we need out of the State Department.
And I have a lot more to say here, but I'm going to put it in the record. But what I would hope would come out of this hearing today is some type of consensus as to the next level of strategy that we are all going to undertake and take this to the next step.
And I think we made great progress, but the fact of the matter is -- and we'll hear from the witnesses -- the problem is getting worse in some places. And the interesting thing is that, because we're getting better reporting and we're really finding out more about what's going on, that may be part of it, but if it is, then we want to know if we're getting corresponding reactions.
For instance, there was of some cemeteries, for example, in Germany. And maybe five years ago that may have gone like it just happened, but the German folks have gotten involved, and they followed up. So that's where we're at right now.
And so I'm hoping that the commission and maybe the Foreign Relations Committee and all of us can start to take and figure out how do we move to the next phase of this. And I think it's important that we recognize that some results have occurred.
It was brought to my attention by the Anti-Defamation League about what was happening in the Ukraine, and there was something that happened in Poland. And quite frankly, I just sent a letter off to the ambassadors of both Poland and Ukraine and met with the ambassador of Ukraine and told him. I said, "You know, I'm concerned about this."
And I recently received a very nice letter about the fact that they followed up, and they are doing some things, that President Yushchenko has established a special operative unit to fight xenophobia, and the unit has arrested suspects who circulated anti-Semitic brochures in Odessa on December 24th.
The point I'm trying to make is -- and I'm going to ask that that letter be put in the record...
HASTINGS: Without objection.
VOINOVICH: So the thing is what can we do as senators, House members, the community getting together to have a new strategy. I'm one of those guys that like to have a strategy, and then you decide what you're going to do, and then monitor your performance and get it done.
So I'm anxious to hear from the witnesses, and I hope they share with us some of their thoughts on where do we go from here.
HASTINGS: Thank you very much, Senator.
With my apologies to my colleague and friend from New Jersey, I'm going to leave to go do an amendment, but I'll be back, Chris.
But at this time I'd like to recognize Chris Smith, and then Ms. Solis.
SMITH: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for calling this very important hearing and for your leadership and that of co-chair Ben Cardin. This has truly been, I think, a cooperative effort for years.
I've been in Congress 28 years now, and anti-Semitism in general, the cause of Soviet Jewry, which was part of that effort, has been marked by extraordinary bipartisanship that has made a difference.
And I think all of you would agree in a Congress that increasingly is given over to partisan rancor, the committee to combat anti-Semitism remains in my view the quintessential example of bipartisanship, bicameral and legislative-executive branch cooperation to promote social justice and equity for Jews, not only within the OSCE region, but within the world as well.
And again, I want to thank our co-chairs for their extraordinary efforts. And certainly, Senator Voinovich has been a leader on this throughout the many years, and of course, Ms. Solis joins us and is doing a wonderful job as well.
And I would ask unanimous consent that my statement be made a part of the record of I could and just say very briefly that I look at this witness list, and it is a virtual Who's Who of people who have, are and continue to make the difference in this very important cause of social justice.
And I see that Mark Levin, whom I traveled with on my first trip to the Soviet Union in January of 1982, a 10-year trip to Moscow and Leningrad that opened my eyes to anti-Semitism and the cancer that it is. And that has affected me ever since, and I want to thank Mark for his commitment and extraordinary work all these years.
Andy Baker, obviously, when we're working, as Mr. Cardin and Alcee Hastings and all of us know, made an extraordinary difference at the meetings that were held, those venues when people were trying to move us in the direction of not keeping an exclusive laser beam type focus on this particular cancer called anti-Semitism, he helped work is through, came up with language and made a difference.
And Felice Gaer -- we go back to the early days of fighting against Romania. That's when I first met you on behalf of trying to promote human rights and justice in that country.
All of you, it's just a -- Dr. Rickman, obviously, is walking point for the administration. And I know for a fact look forward to your report that's coming out very shortly again so we get that global look.
As Sharansky told us so clearly in Berlin, and he has told us when he testified here before the Helsinki Commission, if you don't chronicle it, if you don't painstakingly assemble the dirty deeds that are being done, you can't combat it.
So I think your office is doing a wonderful job in making sure we get the unvarnished truth, the facts, so that we can act on that and so that everyone else can act on it in a responsible way. Nothing hinders the work of human rights more -- indifference -- and the other would be faulty information, bogus information, very unreliable numbers and the like. But you have helped us extraordinarily, and I thank you for that.
Finally, anti-Semitism is obviously all around us. In my own state of New Jersey, we recently had an episode just north of my district, where some 500 tombstones in a Jewish cemetery were desecrated, overturned. And it just brought right back in sharp contrast that it's in our own backyard as well.
And the first initial response from the police was that it was not a hate crime. It was so uninformed on that person's part. Quickly, that was changed, thankfully, and it's being treated for what it is, a hate crime.
So we shouldn't wonder when people in France, Poland, Germany and others in the police, if they're not adequately trained and informed and enlightened, might ascribe an act of anti-Semitism to hooliganism or some other crime, rather than for the hate that's behind it.
So, again, thank you all. This is an unbelievable group of people. You are world-class fighters for human rights, and I know I for one just thank you deeply.
CARDIN: Congresswoman Solis?
SOLIS: Thank you, Co-chairman Cardin, and also our chairman, Mr. Hastings, who just stepped out, and also to our representatives here at the dais and our special guests that are here.
I also just want to add that I'm very pleased to add one of our witnesses, Rabbi Hier from Los Angeles, who is here representing the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. I know we have worked with your organization over the years on trying to dispel issues and problems that arise also in the Latino community with respect to hate crimes, and that's more recent.
But also I do want to pay attention to some of the work that you have been involved in with other organizations, the Museum of Tolerance there in West Los Angeles, that also went out of their way several years ago regarding Thai workers in the city of El Monte, who were abused, as well as about 70 Latino sweatshop workers that were actually kept in an enslavement type encampment in a condominium in the city of El Monte, which was a city I represented.
And it was just amazing to me to see the kind of treatment that continues to go on in some places in our own backyard, but also the fact that the organizations that we see here today have also stepped up and helped to shed light on any type of hate crime and discrimination and harsh treatment of people because of their differences of religion, language or color of their skin.
So I just want to tell you how very pleased I am to have all of you here. And as kind of a relatively new member to OSCE, I'm very, very concerned about the treatment of Jews across Europe, but also here. In Latin America as well we have a number of Jewish ancestors and relatives that live there. So I know that that's something that we also want to be mindful of.
And I'm very pleased and would just like to submit my statement for the record.
CARDIN: Thank you very much.
Without objection, all opening statements of our commission members will be made part of our record, and all of the statements by the witnesses today will be made part of the record. I also want to put into the record without objection the Congressional Research Service's response to Chairman Hastings' request on the status of anti-Semitism in the OSCE member states.
We will now turn to our first witness.
Dr. Rickman, it's a pleasure to have you here. Dr. Rickman was sworn in as the secretary of state special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism on May 22, 2006. In this position he is responsible for the global monitoring of acts of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitism incitement and the creation of policies to combat them.
Dr. Rickman has a long and distinguished record here in Congress, on both the House and Senate side, and was involved in the investigation that looked into the sale of holocaust victims' assets.
It's a pleasure to have you before the committee, and we look forward to your testimony.
RICKMAN: Thank you, Chairman Cardin, Chairman Hastings and other distinguished members of the commission, for inviting me here today. I welcome the opportunity to discuss anti-Semitism, especially trends in the OSCE region. Your active personal commitment and this commission's early and sustained attention to this growing problem have helped spur international efforts against anti-Semitism within the OSCE region and beyond.
I'd also like to thank you for your dedication to fighting anti-Semitism by creating the office which I hold.
I would like to begin by relating three incidents to you to give you an idea of the frightening state of anti-Semitism in recent years.
In London in August 2006, Jasmine Kranat, a 13-year-old Jewish girl, was riding home from school on a bus. Her fellow students demanded that she tell them whether she was English or Jewish. When she paused, they robbed her and then beat her unconscious, breaking her cheekbone in the process. No one made a cell phone call or left their seat on the bus to help her.
In February 2006 Ilan Halimi, a French Jew, was kidnapped by a gang of African immigrants, who mutilated him, at times even when negotiating with his parents over the phone for a ransom. Eventually, they left him in a field in the winter, naked and burned. When caught by the police, the gang leader admitted that they targeted Halimi because he was Jewish and that, quote, "all Jews had money." Halimi died on the way to the hospital.
Finally, in October 2005, Andrei Dzjuba, a 21-year-old Jewish man in Yekaterinburg, Russia, was beaten in a cemetery by five teenagers, who then plunged a cross, torn from a nearby headstone, into his chest, killing him.
Now, these and other chilling accounts speak to the truth of Secretary Rice's statement that more than six decades after the holocaust, anti-Semitism is not just a historical fact -- it is a current event. Today anti-Semitism is manifested by an increased number of violent attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions in much of the OSCE region and beyond.
Traditional anti-Semitic screeds, such as Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf, remain commonplace worldwide. Ages old and new anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and propaganda circulate rapidly via satellite television, radio and the Internet. Jews continue to be accused of dual loyalty and the charge of blood libel endures.
Holocaust denial has become one of the most prevalent forms of anti-Semitic discourse and has even become state policy in Iran. Israeli policy, too, is often compared to that of the Nazis.
Regarding anti-Semitism within the OSCE, according to reliable NGO reports in 2006, the last full set of reportable data, a number of OSCE countries experienced increases in overall anti-Semitic incidents, including nonviolent incidents such as graffiti and verbal assaults.
Examples include: In Belgium, 66 reported anti-Semitic incidents, the largest number of acts since 2001, when recording began. The United Kingdom, with 594 reported anti-Semitic incidents, had 31 percent increase over 2005.
Switzerland, with 140 reported anti-Semitic, 73 in the German-speaking region, double the number from the previous year, and 67 in the French-speaking region, a decline from 75 in 2005. France, with 371 incidents, or 24 percent over 2005, though statistics for the first half of 2007 reveal a decrease. And finally, Canada, with 935 reported incidents, a 12.8 percent increase over the previous year.
We must, however, not take such statistics as the final word on a problem. Drawing accurate cross-country comparisons is complicated by the fact that countries use different data collection methods and definitions. We must therefore be very cautious about rank ordering countries on the degree to which anti-Semitism is a problem based on available statistics, because comparisons are not always equal.
During my time as special envoy, I have traveled to numerous OSCE countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine and Poland, where I've spoken to government officials, community leaders and victims of anti-Semitic violence, such as Jasmine Kranat, whom I just mentioned.
I have also gained a number of impressions from travels throughout the Middle East and beyond, and most recently to Australia.
Mr. Chairman, traditional anti-Semitism -- that is, the over demonization or degradation of Jews based on ethnic and religious differences -- remains prevalent in parts of Central and Eastern Europe and in Russia.
To cite a few examples: In Poland, the conservative Catholic radio station, Radio Maria, is one of Europe's most blatantly anti-Semitic media venues.
The Interregional Academy of Personnel Management, or MAUP, is a private educational institution in Ukraine and one of Europe's most persistent anti-Semitic institutions responsible for nearly 90 percent of all anti-Semitic material published in the country.
In Russia, where xenophobic racial and ethnic attacks are widespread and on the rise, incidents there often feature anti-Semitic sentiments as well.
Finally, in Germany, a country that had, more than other, tried to come to terms with past, neo-Nazi violence has taken its toll. And as Senator Voinovich mentioned, for example, between 2002 and 2006, 237 Jewish cemeteries were reported desecrated, an average of nearly 50 per year. There are also a number of individual cases of physical assaults and other incidents.
New forms of anti-Semitism have also evolved. They often incorporate elements of traditional anti-Semitism. The distinguishing feature of the new anti-Semitism is the criticism of Zionism, or Israeli policy, that intentionally or not has the effect of promoting prejudice against all Jews by demonizing Israel and Israelis and attributing Israel's perceived faults to its Jewish character.
This new anti-Semitism often emanates from unprecedented coalitions, uniting groups that otherwise would have little common cause. Throughout the OSCE region and indeed at anti-Israel rallies on every continent, placards emblazoned with swastikas can be found reading "Death to Jews," "Death to Israel," as well as Stars of David.
Mr. Chairman, the U.S. government, as well as many others within the OSCE and beyond, seek to combat anti-Semitism through a variety of means, including publicly condemning all forms of anti-Semitism and intolerance whenever and wherever they occur, meeting with victims of anti-Semitic crimes, monitoring anti-Semitic actions and maintaining public statistics, promoting tolerance in primary and secondary schools and in society at large, devoting significant resources to investigating incidents, and prosecuting perpetrators of anti-Semitic crimes -- and I would add prosecuting them specifically as hate crimes -- training police to understand the nature of such crimes, promoting holocaust awareness and education, supporting inter-faith understanding and dialogue, providing security protection to threatened synagogues and other Jewish institutions, and collaborating with affected communities, NGOs and international bodies to counter anti-Semitism.
At the intergovernmental level, as I noted, the OSCE has been a global forerunner in efforts to combat anti-Semitism, and I know that this commission heard last week from Professor Gert Weisskirchen and Dr. Katherin Meyer about these efforts.
I firmly express the State Department's strong support for permanently retaining these positions, especially Professor Weisskirchen's. Ensuring his and the other additional position's proper funding is essential to our effort to combat anti-Semitism in the OSCE region.
Finally, Jewish communities must not sit back and accept the attacks that are launched against them. Governments serve to protect, and they should be expected to respond when notified of an incident. It can, however, only respond when they are notified.
Mr. Chairman, a lot of work remains to be done in key areas of education, tolerance promotion, legislation, law enforcement, before anti-Semitism in all its ugly forms can be consigned to the past.
In sum, history has shown that wherever anti-Semitism has gone unchecked, the persecution of others has not been far behind. Anti-Semitism must be seen as a human rights issue and as a cause of great importance, not only for Jews, but for all people who value humanity and justice and want to live in a more tolerant, peaceful world.
I thank you for the opportunity to come before you today, and I welcome any questions you might have.
CARDIN: Thank you very much for your testimony.
I'm advised by staff, just as to logistics, that we must complete this hearing by no later than 4:30 this afternoon, so I'm going to ask the members to please cooperate with no more than five-minute rounds and the witnesses, if they could try to summarize their opening statements on the next two panels in no more than three minutes, so we have time for questioning. We'll be a little bit lenient on that, but we really need to stick to the schedule.
Let me ask one question, if I might start, Dr. Rickman. One of the arguments that's been used in Vienna OSCE is that because of United Nations efforts to fight anti-Semitism, that the work of the OSCE concentrating solely on anti-Semitism is perhaps a redundancy and unnecessary.
I want you to respond to that, but I also want you to respond to an announcement I believe that was made that the United States will not participate in the Durban II conference. That conference, of course, was one that we're all very familiar with, in which we supported the United States walking out of the Durban conference when efforts were made to turn it into a bashing against Israel and moving forward on anti-Semitic statements.
Your comments as to both of those points, the need for OSCE being involved -- you mentioned your support for special representatives -- and our participation in Durban II.
RICKMAN: Well, thank you, Senator Cardin.
I cannot speak to the confusion that went on in the press. I can, of course, relay that in 2001 the United States delegation was pulled from Durban. But in reference to the announcement yesterday, there has not been a formal decision made to this effect. And in essence, because this conference will take place in 2009, it will be left to the decision of the succeeding administration.
Now, regarding redundancy, as you suggest, or claims of it about the OSCE, it's very important that OSCE be allowed to continue what it does. It does it very well, and it's important inasmuch as regarding law enforcement training, education, tolerance training.
These issues are vital to fighting anti-Semitism, because we need to start with a new generation to cut this off and to stop the intolerance and the bigotry that goes on. And anything that we can do, even if it's baby steps, is very important to fighting this scourge.
CARDIN: Thank you.
I just would point out for the record there's been no disagreement among the administration and Congress, between Democrats and Republicans, on the United States strategy to promote the strategy against anti-Semitism. There was also no disagreement in regard to the administration's position in regard to the Durban conference.
So I think there is strong support in Congress, and I understand that the meetings are not imminent, but that we make it clear to the United Nations our position as it relates to an open process in dealing with forms of tolerance.
In turn, if I might, first to Mr. Smith.
SMITH: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Let me just first ask a couple of quick questions, again, and build on the Durban II that so many of us are so worried about, with Libya and Cuba chairing and co-chairing, with the Human Rights Council poised to be the planning body, which is obviously the follow-on to the discredited Human Rights Commission, which we all know had a very virulent side of it when it came to anti-Semitic activities. Israel was always front and center, China to a lesser extent. Even Darfur failed to get its scrutiny for years. It finally did, but it took an enormous amount of push.
But places like China, where human rights are routinely trashed, goes unscathed and actually sits as a member of good standing on the Human Rights Council. It's mind-boggling. But I, and I think the chairman, as we're beginning to look at this, are very worried about this upcoming -- all of the meetings, all of the progress
As a matter of fact, the B'nai B'rith in their testimony makes it very clear that despite an effort that was launched in this room at a hearing we had for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly meetings on anti-Semitism, as well as the OSCE itself, that anti-Semitism has a new life. And I'm very concerned that it has got its breath, its second wind, if you will, and may go to new and lower levels.
I think the U.N. conference offers a venue for that precisely to happen, and I hope that we not only follow Canada's lead, but lead as well in saying that we will do everything we can to thwart a new round of hate fest and hate speech, especially with Libya and Cuba acting as chair and co-chair -- so if you could talk to that a little bit further.
Ambassador Hanford and his shop, the International Commission on Human Rights and their work -- how closely do you coordinate with those two?
I know that Ambassador Hanford has worked very hard, for example, on Saudi Arabia -- not an OSCE country, but certainly an epicenter of hate that then, through hobbyism and textbooks and everything else, does an enormous amount of damage, and they are a country of particular concern.
Why haven't they been censored? There are all kinds of penalties prescribed in the International Religious Freedom Act and to date, as far as I know, they have had very little come their way.
Finally -- and I do have a lot of questions, but in the interest of time -- the legislation that we passed over in the House to provide $5 million for the museum on the history of the Polish Jews, which is still hurting for money, needs that money, will help leverage additional monies from other donors, including countries, the day we passed it on the House side.
I'm happy to say the Germans stepped up to the plate and provided additional funding for it. I do think it will leverage money so that it gets up and running so that how Jews lived for a thousand years in Poland, which is really the place of origin for so many who then emigrated and left even to come here in years of the diaspora -- why can't we get that pushed by the White House -- or maybe you are?
It's over here on the Senate side. I think it would be a great -- I mean, we're talking about conferences and holocaust remembrance, which certainly is contained within that museum in a very, very methodical way. This would be a great step forward, I would think, so we need to make that a priority. Get it out in the Senate. Get it down to Bush.
RICKMAN: Thank you, Congressman Smith.
Regarding Durban, I can tell you that we really don't see anything useful coming out of this planning for the Durban conference and that we are not participating in preparatory conferences that are going on right now. And as I said, there's been no decision made yet as to future participation, because it will be in 2009.
Regarding Ambassador Hanford's shop, the International Religious Freedom Office, we do coordinate with them. We work very well with them. And as you know, in the legislation that you yourself sponsored so well, establishing my office, we have responsibility for the anti-Semitism of the International Religious Freedom Report, which we now are going to be doing our third round on.
So that starts in the summer. And by addition, we also have responsibility for the same section in the country reports on human rights.
Regarding the museum, the $5 million to the Jewish museum in Poland, I understand very much your concern, and I will carry that back to the department, and we'll see what happens.
CARDIN: Senator Voinovich?
VOINOVICH: Dr. Rickman, are you familiar with the testimony that we received from Gert Weisskirchen and from Katherin Meyer?
RICKMAN: I was able to look at Dr. Weisskirchen's, yes.
VOINOVICH: The question I have is, as you know, we worked very, very hard. There was an enormous lobbying effort to get the OSCE to put tolerance and nondiscrimination on the core budget. And I was pleased that when Ms. Meyer was here, she indicated that, although she was leaving, she was pleased that it's on the core budget, because had it not been on the core budget, she said she didn't think they'd be able to attract anybody to take the job.
And I just would like your candid evaluation of just where we are in terms of ODIHR and their budget. They also mentioned that Gert's still on -- is it the Sekund or somebody else that's paying his salary? Is that coming out of Germany, his staff and the rest of it?
And the other thing that really was of concern to me was the materials that they have put together, which by the way are terrific. I don't know whether you've seen them or not, but they made them for each of the countries, and I think it's a great curriculum teaching about the holocaust and the background. But where are we with all of that?
And if you were in our shoes and we've got this budget coming along, what would you recommend? One of the things, by the way, I'm concerned about is the OSCE budget, because that comes out of two or three pots, and it seems to me if we're sincere about this, that we ought to put our money where our mouth is.
RICKMAN: Thank you, Senator. The FY '09 budget requests includes a total of $26.5 million for OSCE, and when you talk about ODIHR, we pay 11.5 percent of the budget. And essentially, when it comes to the previous year in FY '08, we are intending to provide $30 million.
I understand your concerns about this. There have been concerns voiced by others. We do believe OSCE is vital, as I said, and we will continue to fund these for the OSCE with this important view in mind.
As far as materials are concerned, I have talked many times with Katherin Meyer, and I know she had done wonderful work, supplying in one respect educational materials to Eastern Europe on holocaust awareness and the like. And so it's something that's vital and something that we will continue to push for and to help.
VOINOVICH: Is it possible for other organizations? She said that these could be paid for by anyone. It's possible that we could make that available, and it seems to me that there ought to be a way to raise the money that we need to do that, if it's not going to be paid for out of their budget. First of all, do you think it should be paid for out of their budget?
RICKMAN: Senator, the U.S. is one of 56 members, as you well know, and there are a number of other countries that can and should be able to contribute to this. And on a variety of different issues when it involves less of a money issue, but on a cooperative level, their NGOs can have a role in training and tolerance issues, as well. So I would offer that as advice.
VOINOVICH: Well, I would really like, if possible, if you could put together kind of a diagram about where is the money? How much is there? Who's getting paid for what? How much money would be needed?
In fact, I asked her to submit that to us. Have we got that?
She was supposed to get back to me, or the commission. Anyhow, the point I'm making is that I'd like to focus in and just see where that is and see if we can't remedy some of that situation with a plan.
The other is how much money as the U.S. provided for anti-Semitic programs in 2006 and 2007 and projected for 2008?
RICKMAN: Senator, we'll get back to you on putting these programs together and more solid numbers that will be able to help you and answer these questions.
VOINOVICH: Do you think that Katherin's been doing the job that we expect her to do?
RICKMAN: Katherin is a wonderful scholar and a wonderful person, and I think she tried very hard and she did a good job.
VOINOVICH: Thank you.
CARDIN: Let me just underscore the point that Senator Voinovich said on budget. The United States has been one of the leaders, as far as funding and looking for transparency and openness within the OSCE's budgeting, but there are times that we haven't done what we should be doing in the budget support. And I would hope that we would continue to show that leadership.
I'm not aware that we have made specific recommendations to make sure these special representatives have the budgets they need, and as Senator Voinovich pointed out, their budgets are almost solely at the whim of their state budgets, not through OSCE.
And most of Professor Weisskirchen's support comes through Germany, because he's a parliamentarian, not through ODIHR or through OSCE. I think the right policy is to make sure that he has some permanent funding support within OSCE, and I hope that would be a priority of our administration.
RICKMAN: Senator, I agree with you about helping the three special reps. As I said in my statement, we very much and firmly support them, and we have been trying to get some sort of coordinating help for the three special representatives so that they can better perform their duties, coordinate them, work better together, and just simply on a planning level.
CARDIN: Thank you.
SOLIS: I wanted to also touch on the budget and just ask what the State Department can do to get our partners in OSCE to also put pressure, or whatever it is it's going to take, to dialogue with them so that they also provide more assistance. I know we have made that, as already has been stated, part of our commitment, but what can we do or what is it that we need to do to make sure that we have fair representation by our partners?
RICKMAN: Congresswoman, I understand that, and as I suggested earlier, there is a role to be played by the other member states, and I talk often with our delegation in Vienna, and we talk about these issues. And they are very much trying to get this, and they work hard at it. And there are a number of other issues that they work on in this regard, but I will convey that back for others that we need to work harder.
SOLIS: Also, I wanted to ask you when was the last extra-budgetary contribution to support a project aimed specifically at combating anti-Semitism?
RICKMAN: Well, Congresswoman, we give a specifically large amount of money at various times, and from my understanding, we give $3.8 million. We have projected up to 2008 towards this effect -- namely, intolerance and nondiscrimination programs.
But it goes beyond the money issue. It goes in dealing with our member states. It goes with presenting the issues, both at the international conferences, such as most recently in Bucharest, and persisting with and hammering away at fighting anti-Semitism and getting materials into the classrooms and fighting it on the ground level.
SOLIS: The other question I have is, in your opinion, is the U.S. providing sufficient support in this effort? What else needs to be done? I know you've already touched on the fact that the State Department has their budgetary items. But what other agencies ought to be involved? I've heard discussed, for example, Commerce trying to get other support as well to help us out.
RICKMAN: Congresswoman, I can't really address what other agencies would.
SOLIS: Would it be helpful if we did that?
RICKMAN: Well, obviously, the budget is something that we support. The president's budget is something that I support, and so that as it goes forth, that will be played out.
SOLIS: Well, sadly, I'm not happy with the president's budget on a whole lot of issues, and this is just another one.
But anyway, I'd also like to turn to what we're doing or what we could be doing to enhance with the ODIHR advisor on anti-Semitism. Katherin Meyer noted in a program in Germany where Muslims groups have taken part in combating anti-Semitism. What have we done there to help increase the work that was begun? And where do we need to go?
RICKMAN: Congresswoman, I can address that partly, but I'd also like to tell you that when I go overseas, I make it a very important point that I meet with Muslim groups wherever I go, so that we can explain this problem as I see it as I have talked to victims, talked to the Jewish community.
And I suspect that's being done in ODIHR as well, because the most important thing is to be able to present a human face to anti-Semitism, to express it as a problem of real people who face real problems and to suggest that Muslim groups not only see this, but also understand it, and that we understand it from their angle, because it's not any more right for Muslims to face discrimination as it would be Jews or anyone else.
SOLIS: But have we done any work with the leadership of these Muslim organizations? I understand talking to the different groups, but also to their leadership and maybe convening some kind of an effort there, where we have a partnership.
RICKMAN: As I said, when I go, I talk not only with groups, but I speak with the leaders specifically to convey this information to them. I know our embassy regularly contributes to talks with them. They meet with them. They have regular rounds. And within ODIHR and OSCE, I know that these talks happen as well. There were many representatives from Muslim groups that were present at the Bucharest conference, and we met with them there as well.
SOLIS: I'm also very concerned about migration, because we're seeing this air also as some hate-related crimes there that are also intertwined in all this, and especially with the Muslim community and different groups. Can you address what your efforts are in terms of focusing in on that issue?
RICKMAN: In dealing with Muslim groups or dealing with Muslims?
SOLIS: Well, both. You've got migration occurring by different groups, different ethnic groups, and what have you. Can you touch on that? What efforts have you made in your capacity?
RICKMAN: I can tell you that when I do speak with these groups, we try to convey to them the broad range of problems, but to try to have them speak to the broad range of their constituencies, because they're not monolithic, and there is by no means any intention on our part to suggest that, but that Muslim groups have faced discrimination on their own, and we advocate that they try to, within the OSCE region, that they be addressed, that their problems be addressed, and...
SOLIS: Well, we're also talking about anti-Semitism, because we're hearing and seeing much of that happen also in Europe because of economics and because of shifting economic policies from countries. So what are you trying to kind of balance that out?
RICKMAN: Well, here was a report about a week ago from the European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, Franco Fortini, who said that 50 percent of the anti-Semitic attacks in Europe are being carried out by Muslims. But also means that 50 percent are not being carried out by them. So we're trying to address it on both ends and just trying to talk to these people. It's important that they see a live face.
SOLIS: Thank you.
I yield back.
CARDIN: I understand Congressman Smith has an additional question.
SMITH: I do have one quick one, Dr. Rickman.
Andy Baker points out in his testimony -- Rabbi Baker -- and just to back up a second, in Berlin you might recall at the OSCE meeting on anti-Semitism, we actually hatched the idea working with the American Jewish community to have peer-to-peer, police-to-police training so that hate crimes could be recognized properly, so that best practices could be employed to try to prosecute. The problem is, as Rabbi Baker points out in his testimony, it's not getting support from the United States.
He says, and I'd appreciate your reaction to it, that tragically and inexplicably, this is not the case -- that is to say, support from the U.S. government -- even though this police training program is viewed by ODIHR as its premier program in the area of combating intolerance, and even though other OSCE member states have provided extra-budgetary contributions to support it, the U.S. has evidently abandoned it. The State Department has not seen fit to provide any special financial support, even to cover the cost of the American officer.
And I know that this is an important program. Like I said about my own police just north of my district, if you don't have people who know what they're looking at and don't take the right actions from a police point of view, you're not going to get the desired outcome of putting these people behind bars for the right reasons -- hate crimes. So why are we not -- or are we -- supporting this? Again, this is something that came right out of our meetings back in Berlin.
RICKMAN: Congressman Smith, I have dealt with the issue. I can tell you that between 2005 and 2008 that the United States provided over $101,000 to this effect. There is, however, a budget shortfall. But I would offer to you, as I said earlier, that we are only one of 56 members and that other members should try to come forward with more money. We have paid a lot of money for this.
And there is a role to be played by the NGOs, who could work with established programs and try to bring this problem there, because we have made suggestions to this effect in other countries that I visited most recently.
SMITH: But just for the record, and I think it's important, as Rabbi Baker points out, the Russians want to invite the group to come in and do peer-to-peer teaching. Ukraine wants to make it sustainable there with an MOU, their project.
We should be leading them, it seems to me. We have the expertise, probably, more than anyone else. The American Jewish Committee has done a magnificent job, and I think if anyone has the resources, it ought to be the U.S. government to say we can make a difference in combating hate crimes, if we have law enforcement knowing what it's looking at and then prosecuting appropriately.
And so I would ask you to take that back with a deep respect and urgency to say let's coney up the necessary funds, the requisite funds to make a difference, because if we don't do more, the other 54, 55 other countries are going to stand back and do even less, even though some have come forward with money. But it will not be sustainable. I think we need to lead on this one.
RICKMAN: I do understand, and I will, of course, take that back.
CARDIN: Dr. Rickman, thank you very much.
RICKMAN: Thank you.
CARDIN: We'll now hear from Ms. Felice Gaer. She chairs the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, heads the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights of the American Jewish Committee, which conducts research and advocacy to strengthening international human rights protection and institutions.
She's the first American to serve as an independent expert on the United Nations Committee Against Torture. Nominated by the Clinton administration and renominated by the Bush administration, she has served on the committee since 2000, including as vice chair from 2004-2006 and rapporteur on follow-up to country conclusions in 2003 to present.
It's a pleasure to have you with us.
GAER: Thank you very much.
First of all, thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to testify on behalf of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. I'll summarize the written testimony, but I do request that the full written statement be included in the record.
GAER: Thank you.
First, I'd like to commend the members present in particular, but all members of the Helsinki Commission for your vital leadership in the struggle against anti-Semitism.
You have conducted hearings. You have supported resolutions. You have made timely interventions, calling for personal representatives to be created, sponsored key legislation like the 2004 Anti-Semitism Act, and particulate actively in the OSCE's actual work in the Parliamentary Assembly, the various conferences and the like. That's a model, we feel.
Now, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has noted and reported on the rise of anti-Semitism since 2001 and the rise in racism, xenophobia and intolerance towards members of the religious and ethnic minorities in the OSCE region and elsewhere.
We're concerned about physical attacks, as well as about inaction that fuels an environment of intolerance, such as when extremists acts or rhetoric go ignored by political and societal leaders. The written testimony contains a summary of this information.
Violent acts are often well documented, but they are rarely investigated and prosecuted as hate crimes, particularly in Russia and the OSCE states with weak rule of law traditions. It is not hooliganism. It is human rights abuse, and it should be treated and investigated and prosecuted as such.
Since 2002, our commission has recommended that OSCE address this growing problem in innovative ways, and it has. We have also actively monitored, participated in and made recommendations on OSCE conferences and related institution building.
As a result of your leadership and U.S. diplomatic leadership, including in particular your direct involvement, the OSCE became the first international organization to treat anti-Semitism as a distinct human rights issue requiring serious and ongoing attention, using a human rights methodology.
OSCE has set up three mechanisms to address anti-Semitism and related human rights issues -- the series of high-level conferences, the establishment of the three personal representatives, and the tolerance program embedded in the ODIHR. The new staff position of advisor on anti-Semitism, which you spoke about and whom you heard from last week, is part of that third mechanism.
Now, a recently issued review by the Spanish chairmanship of the OSCE concludes that these three personal representatives have each conducted a wide variety of valuable activities that, quote, "no other international organization has a similar structure to address," unquote, and that they provide added value to the OSCE.
They also conclude that these individuals should be provided with further instruments and administrative support and that the three part-time honorary special representative posts be turned into a special full-time one.
We asked the question does this mean eliminating the personal representative on anti-Semitism? We think it does, and we think it shouldn't mean that.
The commission recommends that the chair in office of the OSCE provide more prominence to the three personal representatives through measures such as the following: Asking them to report in person to the annual full ministerial council meeting. They don't. Ensuring that their reports are published and disseminated throughout and beyond the OSCE system. They aren't.
Taking them on some of the chair in office's own visits to neighboring states and participating states. They don't go. Referring to their work and conclusions in the chairman in office's speeches. We haven't found one yet.
Encouraging participating states to invite them to visit the states separately. The chair doesn't encourage that. Encouraging field presences to also invite them. That should be a simple matter. It hasn't happened.
These matters could enhance not only the profile of the personal representatives, but the impact of their findings and recommendations on the scourge of anti-Semitism and combating it directly.
Now, the commission has been most impressed by the tolerance unit's publications, some of which are outside the room, I saw here, and which you've heard about and spoken about this morning.
Carrying out the mandate of the ODIHR's tolerance unit effectively -- gathering data, publishing reports, dealing with curricula, training police -- requires skilled, experienced staff support from other OSCE and international bodies and adequate financial resources. We don't think those resources are adequate at present.
The valuable activities of the tolerance program are now endangered due to severe budgetary constraints, as well as the departure of Dr. Meyer. We have seen a change in U.S. government priorities on this issue.
Now, part of the problem with the OSCE is the threat that has come from Russia -- the attempt to put ODIHR under the control of the permanent council and the ministerial council, giving Russia a right to veto activities, including in particular its human rights activities and its electoral monitoring.
U.S. government officials have rightly voiced support for the OSCE in the face of these attacks, and until 2007, the State Department singled out the ODIHR anti-discrimination programs, including those directed against anti-Semitism, for prominent mention.
In the past year, however, the tone and the content of the State Department's high-level statements about the ODIHR's program have shifted. Although there continues to be support for the human rights activities of ODIHR, the work against intolerance, including anti-Semitism, is no longer singled out for particular mention and support, and particularly not at the high levels.
Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, speaking at a Vienna press conference last November, said ODIHR is, quote, "a very important agency of the OSCE in charge of election monitoring," unquote -- no reference to the tolerance program, no reference to the personal representatives, no reference to the problem of combating anti-Semitism or any related issues.
Secretary Rice visited the OSCE finally last May, after having met with our commission on this matter. We brought up the issue of the personal representatives, urged her to raise it there. She didn't.
These signals cannot fail to have been noted by other participating states, including those that have now come forward to suggest, as outlined in the Spanish review, that there should be a consolidation -- that is, an elimination of the unique OSCE post focused on anti-Semitism.
The commission recommends that the U.S. government urgently signal its interest and that it remains interested in the full array of these ODIHR tolerance programs and programs to combat anti-Semitism.
Now, we have other recommendations for you that are in the written testimony, and I'll just concentrate on the core budget issue that was raised earlier. The commission has urged the U.S. government to authorize and appropriate additional funds directly to the ODIHR program to expand its impressive and unique programs on anti-Semitism.
The U.S. needs to demonstrate that the success of these programs is a long-term American priority in the OSCE region. You all know of the extraordinary contributions that the United States Congress has made to the assistance to torture victims through direct funding and through the provision of that.
It seems to me that in the face of hesitancy on a core issue that the United States has been associated with, which is the eradication of anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance, racism and xenophobia in the world, it is well past the time when this Congress can make it clear to the State Department that it wants these projects funded, and wants them funded by doing so with a direct appropriation.
I look forward to your questions and thank you again.
CARDIN: Well, thank you for your comments. Let me start by just asking one or two questions.
I will take up your suggestions. We do have a meeting scheduled with the chair in office, and we will bring these issues up, and we thank you for those concrete suggestions. I think they are helpful. Some are pretty easy for him to implement, and we will.
We've gotten very strong support from the chair in office on the continuation of the mission on anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination. But the specific recommendations you're making I find very helpful, so we will follow that up.
In regards to the United States priority areas, I think you raised some very valid points. Secretary Powell, in my view, was very much engaged on this issue, very much made it a priority within the State Department, as well as with the administration, which was helpful.
I don't see the same degree of interest with Secretary Rice, quite frankly, and I will use my opportunity when she appears before the Foreign Relations Committee -- I believe it's next week -- to hopefully ask the questions at the hearing. If not, I'll ask it by written question follow-up to make sure that we include sensitivities that I think you bring up that are very valid. So we will do that.
Let me, if I might, ask you if you could give us particular states that you believe should be of particular interest to us, either because of the level of anti-Semitic activities or because of the failure of the political leadership within that country to deal with the problems of anti-Semitism.
As my friend, Congressman Smith, mentions frequently, the most effective use of OSCE is when we get country specific. And we will be in Vienna in two weeks to meet with representatives from various states. We also plan to be in Prague and Slovakia, and we can also use that opportunity, as we plan to meet with representatives from the Jewish community, as well as government officials, because of certain activities within those two countries.
So I'll give you this opportunity, if you like, to answer that, or if you could get back to us -- whatever way -- however you feel most comfortable.
GAER: I would be happy to get back to you. There are new developments, problematic developments in Belarus, problematic developments in Russia. Turkey is not without its difficulties. The commission has monitored equally problematic situations in France, Belgium, Uzbekistan and Iran, Egypt, outside the OSCE region.
CARDIN: Well, Egypt's actually one of our partner states. Egypt is usually represented at our meetings.
Uzbekistan's surprising, but as far as anti-Semitism in Uzbekistan?
GAER: A failure to allow the Jewish community to have many of the opportunities for religious organizations to function. There's only one per community that's allowed, and that's created difficulties.
CARDIN: Turkey we have seen, at least in recent years, we thought, strong leadership from its government to deal with anti-Semitism. Have there been some new developments in Turkey?
GAER: Well, you have the fallout from the Al-Qaeda attacks and synagogue bombings. You have Mein Kampf as a best seller. You have a lot of...
CARDIN: What is the attitude of the government in dealing with that?
GAER: The attitude of the government has been largely positive -- not in favor of this, of course -- but the government is seeking not to see that those incidents continue, but when a head of state's wife goes to a movie that has explicitly anti-Semitic activity and then is criticized for that and then comes out and says it was a great movie, you don't have the best situation in terms of leadership.
CARDIN: Well, that information, I think, is helpful for us, and it supplements the rest of our record, and we appreciate your help in that regard.
HASTINGS: Senator Voinovich, any questions?
VOINOVICH: Your testimony is stunning. And I'll be interested to hear from the other witnesses about your observations, because it seems to me that you kind of laid it out.
And the truth is that if we recall where we made the progress, it was when we were able to get the secretary of state to show up at these meetings. And over the last couple of years, they've kind of disappeared, and other people have gone -- not to take anything away from the people that they've sent to represent us.
The other thing that I think is really important is that Steve Minikes I thought did a fantastic job -- that declaration that he was able to get signed was unique, where he was able to include in there that people's unhappiness about Israel weren't reasons for anti-Semitic behavior in their respective countries.
And I think that if you look down the road in terms of the next level, that Secretary Rice is going to be at our Foreign Relations Committee, and I'm going to bring up the subject with her. Maybe she can re-engage herself, although she has a pretty busy agenda today.
And I think that it's important we're going to have a new president and that efforts be made to try and underscore how important it is for this country to have the right representative to the OSCE. I think I've looked at a lot of them. It was just fantastic.
If we're going to do something in the short term between now and the election, what would be the two things that you'd advise us to do?
GAER: With regard to the tolerance mandate?
VOINOVICH: Yes. One thing I'm interested in is to get the right person to take Katherin Meyer's place. I would think that...
GAER: Yes, but she says that now that it's part of core budget funding, good people applied, and somebody was going to be hired, she thinks.
VOINOVICH: Yes, that's what she said to me.
GAER: She said it to me, too.
GAER: I would say that the two most important things would be to get the budget issue straightened out so that the argument that there isn't money to hire good people, that there isn't money to take on programming, and there isn't money to staff the expertise and the personal representatives can't be used as an excuse. So I think the budget is the most important.
The second most important is the diplomatic support for these posts and for their distinctiveness. There's no other international agency in the world that deals explicitly and distinctively with anti-Semitism. That came about, in large measure, because of the failure of the Durban World Conference and because of the inability of the United States to address this issue frankly and effectively.
And OSCE has a unique role to play in this. What we discovered, as we tried to bring this issue to the OSCE, was the excuses came not necessarily from where they came from in the U.N. They came from our strongest allies. They came from some of the chairs in office at the time these issues were created. They came from countries that didn't want to see anything singled out to deal with what was a huge spike in anti-Semitic activity in Europe.
So we need to work doubly hard on this issue in the OSCE, as it's our only regional security organization that we're a full member of in the same way that they are.
VOINOVICH: I'm aware of it. I know that the effort there just getting it on the core budget was not a lay-up shot. Everybody got involved in it.
GAER: It was a great achievement, and you all should be congratulated.
VOINOVICH: Der Voort (ph) and Rootbo (ph) and the rest of them.
I haven't read your testimony, so maybe it's in there, but real quickly, to me the nuance of the new ideas about trying to erase this and put something else it's in place won't get the job done.
GAER: Well, you have some of that in Rabbi Baker's testimony that's coming up, but the nuance is take the three people and put them together -- they're now honorary, part-time, unpaid experts, like the U.N.'s special rapporteurs. That gives them a certain amount of independence, but they don't have any staff.
The money that they get is from their own countries. The Irish, the Germans and the Turks provide support, so if we're talking about what other countries should be providing funding, I didn't hear Dr. Rickman say how much they're actually providing directly for those three experts.
And we have a situation where a lot more could be very effectively utilized, but it isn't there for their work. We all need staff, and in the OSCE context, an organization created to have a minimum of staff from the very beginning. And to leave the political enthusiasm and commitment in capital is a very difficult issue, because we're trying to change the culture in the OSCE.
You're the only international institution that has done something special on anti-Semitism, distinctively, and they're trying to lump it back together into one big xenophobia, intolerance, hate crimes issue. You need the general perspective -- there's no question. But we have learned is you do need the distinctive focus in order to deal with the distinctive aspects of each of these problems.
VOINOVICH: Thank you.
HASTINGS: Thank you very much, Senator Voinovich.
I do want to say that, at the urging of Senator Cardin and myself, the president has nominated a commissioner, and it is David Kramer, who is going through the confirmation process, who will be, if not conformed, the assistant secretary for democracy, human rights and labor.
CARDIN: We've already had the confirmation hearings, and it went very well. I expect he will be confirmed soon.
HASTINGS: All right. I just wanted to make sure you understand that we are trying to move that part of the process forward, but I still am regretting the fact that Commerce has not spoken out. The Defense Department has recently spoken. These would be actually commissioners, and we've had them vacant for a long time. And I took it personal and took it to all of them, with the exception of the Commerce Department.
I'd like to now recognize my good friend, Congressman Smith.
And Chris, let me ask you to try to brief, because there are four more witnesses.
SMITH: Gotcha. I'll be very brief.
Very quickly, on Durban II, if you could, are we right not to be part of it? Should be at the prep conf fighting from within? I argued with Human Rights Council, which is as egregiously flawed as the Human Rights Commission that it replaced, that we ought to be part of it to fight from within, even though we don't like the outcome.
Secondly, on Egypt, your testimony is very strong, as it ought to be, about the cartoons, the 24-part series, Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Every time I meet with Mubarak -- and my colleagues are identical -- we raise the issue, we bring examples of these despicable cartoons and writings that are totally anti-Semitic. In Cairo when I have met with him, when I've met with him here -- we've all done this -- he said, "I'll look into it," and nothing ever happened. What should we be doing here?
And finally, on the law enforcement officer program, have you and the commission raised that with Dr. Rice and with the State Department when you've had your meetings and say, "Here is a peer-to-peer police officers training program, and it's working, but it's dying an unceremonial death due to resources?"
GAER: Thank you very much.
On the Durban World Conference, I'm one of maybe three people, four people in the room who was in Durban, and it's not an experience one wants to have again. That said, there were three conferences in Durban. There was an NGO conference, which is where the trouble was. There was a government conference, which actually ended up, after the U.S. left, better than anticipated. And there was a street conference, if you like. It was the political action in South Africa that influenced the whole atmosphere, and that was problematic.
The U.N. has continued to try to do some of the positive things that were affirmed in the Durban declaration and program of action. In point of fact, the effort to do that has been hampered. It's been hampered by the legacy of what went on at the NGO conference and the anti-Semitism that we saw in the conference.
The United States has an opportunity to influence that through diplomacy. Diplomacy usually means being there. It doesn't always mean talking to everyone, but it does mean being there and fighting for things. And in the case of the Durban World Conference, we're not doing that.
You heard Dr. Rickman say that no decision has been made, but that the U.S. has not been participating in the preparatory meetings. And that's true since 2001.
So I think we have a situation where we're not using all the tools that we have to try to improve what can be done, what makes a difference, and what makes a difference for many people, and also to let those people know that part of the problem and part of the reason that the U.N. can't do more is because they can't do it at the expense of one group. They can't do it by demonizing a people and making them a subject of hatred and vitriol that feeds intolerance, rather than resolves it.
GAER: I'll send you some comments on the other points on the police training program. We have not yet had that conversation with Dr. Rice, but I would look forward to it.
GAER: We have not had that conversation.
... to come forward are Rabbi Andrew Baker, who I was just with in Georgia, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Mr. Mark Levin, longstanding good friend and activist that I know, and Ms. Stacy Burdett, that I've known throughout the career. All of their curriculum vitae are on the table, so I will dispense with those kinds of introductions.
And gentlemen, we are still going to try to follow the five-minute rule, which will give each of you time to expand, but we're going to lose the senators. They have a vote coming up, so if you see them leave...
CARDIN: Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to announce the good news, at least, I think for our country. It may not good for this hearing, because we might have to leave. It looks like we have finally reached an agreement on the short-term economic stimulus package, so Senator Voinovich and I are going to be voting the same way, which is good news.
HASTINGS: Thank you. I'm hopeful that it meets all the requisites for all of us to support it.
That said, let's start with Ms. Burdett, she's the only lady about there, and never mind about seniority, if you all don't mind.
BURDETT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's true what everyone has said that without the commitment and the day-in and day-out work of this commission, the achievements we're reflecting on today would never have been possible. And I think we're all here to say that our continued success will hinge on your particular efforts at this time.
Achievements like the Berlin declaration and the international recognition that it catalyzed about anti-Semitism are milestones, but they're only a beginning. The ODIHR NGOs like mine, the Anti-Defamation League, have all highlighted that.
In fact, anti-Israel animus is routinely intertwined with traditional anti-Semitism, and cases of anti-Semitism are contextualized and explained by hostility over events in the Middle East. I put some samples of that, some images from newspapers in actually the Med partners region, that show you this in a graphic way.
You can read in my statement about incidents, trends, public attitude surveys that illustrate all too well the dangerous mix of trends that are out there that compel action by OSCE.
I will never forget how, scarred by the Durban conference and the realization that the international community refused to address anti-Semitism as a legitimate human rights abuse, we spoke -- and I think it was Commissioner Gaer who first raised this to me -- we recalled that there was something called a supplementary human dimension implementation meeting in the OSCE that could be a good way to introduce this issue on the agenda. And we did.
We sat in this room, I believe, and said that if the U.N. must politicize this issue, let the OSCE hold a conference that can provide unbiased examination of the issue. And since then, the OSCE has been the most important forum for recognition, securing government commitments, and very importantly, assigning a political and substantive point of responsibility. We think of it as a center of gravity in what is still a very poisonous and very politicized environment.
You heard very comprehensive testimony last week about the initiatives of Professor Weisskirchen and the very impressive body of work that is under way that grew out of these efforts. Some of these tools are being used by the United Nations. We've talked about the United Nations today.
I'd like to summarize three specific recommendations that are drawn from my written statement. Of course, the first is what you're hearing from all of us. We have to back up America's commitment with funding for the specialized work of the ODIHR tolerance unit. The fact that there isn't currently funding available for extra-budgetary contributions for those programs does send a message that America's enthusiasm for this agenda is waning.
Where funding is less of an issue, I would ask the commissioners to give political support in areas like staff resources for the personal representative on anti-Semitism, the convening of a high-level conference on anti-Semitism in 2009. We know those conferences are very good markers and focal points for advocacy and deadlines for implementations.
And then I'd like to emphasize, because of the chairman's and the commissioners' focus on the fact that the U.S. is also a participating state in the OSCE, I'd like to remind us to do what America does best, and that is to lead by example. We need to strengthen the fight against anti-Semitism and intolerance at home.
The Anti-Defamation League will release its annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents in the coming days, and we will note in those results an increase in school-based and campus-based incidents. The preliminary results show that the overall numbers show a decline, but these school-based incidents are cause for concern.
And we know of no federal anti-bias or hate crime education program that is currently addressing youth hate violence, so I very much welcome an opportunity to meet with commissioners and their staff and explore legislation to authorize federal programming in that area.
And finally, it's an election year. It's a time of flux in the ODIHR. This commission is well placed to be the engine that drives a sustained American focus and support for the OSCE tolerance agenda. The Helsinki Commission has worked in a very substantive, very bipartisan way to engage and shape the focus of administration after administration. America's leadership is singular and it's important. And it has been a credit to both this commission and this administration.
As the Bush administration lays down markers for the future, and as a new administration comes in to craft its agenda, we will look to you, the commissioners, to ensure sustained and invigorated American efforts to ensure that the OSCE continues to be our center of gravity in the fight against anti-Semitism and hate.
Thank you very much.
HASTINGS: Five minutes on the button. You're good, Stacy.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, who needs no real introduction. So, Rabbi, if you would go forward, please, sir?
HIER: Thank you. Chairman Hastings, Co-chairman Cardin, distinguished members of Congress, I'm going to speed up my testimony so you'll have an opportunity for questions.
Following World War II, we all expected that we wouldn't be here to deal with anti-Semitism, but here we are. The defeat of the Third Reich did not put an end to the hatred against the Jewish people, which is a 2000-year experience.
But let me point to today's issues. Today, with the phenomena of extremist Islamic movement throughout the world poisoning impressionable youth in the large Moslem diaspora in Europe, all the classical anti-Semitic themes and imagery have resurfaced, as has been mentioned before -- the Protocols, blood libel, holocaust denial, which has become the staple of jihadist sermons and websites.
And as has been mentioned, Franco Fortini just said 50 percent of all anti-Semitic incidents in Europe today come from Moslem extremists. State anti-Semitism is back in vogue as well. It's an integral part of statecraft in some Moslem countries, which extends its tentacles to the highest levels of government itself. So we're not talking about street gangs, and we're not talking about swastikas on gravestones, which are horrible. We're talking about heads of state who are anti-Semite.
The new anti-Semitism is especially dangerous. We have never seen anything like it before, because it is inextricably linked to the world of terrorism, which means suicide terrorism. That is why the efforts of the OSCE, and as my colleagues have stated today, the OSCE is the only address, the only international agency in the world that is willing to do something about it.
I speak on behalf of the Museum of Tolerance as well. We've sponsored, with the United Nations, two international conferences on tolerance in Paris. However, we are deeply concerned that the United Nations, of which we are an NGO both of the U.N. and UNESCO, is paralyzed by 57 Moslem states, who exercise a virtual veto over all its activities and politicize every single U.N. conference.
Reference has already been made to Durban I. We know what's expected in Durban II. What is my opinion with respect to Durban II? I would say, should the United States attend? I don't think so. I think what the United States should do is invest in the resources so that the OSCE can make up what the U.N. is not doing and say to the United Nations, "If you're going to politicize the General Assembly in that manner, we're going to strengthen the OSCE as an international agency to do the things that you don't want to do."
The OSCE is free from such politicization constraint. It's not perfect. There are many problems in the OSCE, but it's not the General Assembly of the United Nations for sure.
And let me reference. We had three representatives at Durban I who were part of the intimidation, and we know what it was like. And I believe that Canada did the right thing by saying, "We're not going again, if that's your agenda."
And let me say, here are some recommendations. We call on the OSCE to do something prior to Durban II. We know that Durban II is going to be a hate fest. So we can wait till the hate fest is over and react, or we can have the OSCE in place.
The OSCE set the standards for an international conference on anti-Semitism. They should do something profound just prior to Durban II so that the world sees that there is not one voice that emanates from Durban II. There is another voice of moderation and tolerance.
And let me say something else. Everybody knows it takes 24 hours to get a resolution at the General Assembly, if the object is Israel. Where are the resolutions in the General Assembly on women's rights in the Arab world? How come there are no resolutions condemning the tactics of the so-called modesty police, which regularly patrol the streets of Iran and Saudi Arabia? You never heard of a United Nations resolution on that subject. It will never come up.
The U.N. has held -- the General Assembly -- many special sessions on many important issues, which I give them all the credit, such as drug trafficking, apartheid, AIDS, disarmament, all crucial world issues.
Why not a special session on suicide terror, which is only the crime of the 21st century, which threatens to engulf all of us -- London, Paris, Spain, particularly the Arab world. It will engulf all of us. Why no special session? We all know the answer -- because 57 Moslem countries don't want it on the agenda. That's the answer.
We urge the OSCE to take the leadership in convening a session on the issue of international suicide terror launched against Moslems, against Christians, and against Jews.
Another area that we share is the concern of the Internet. The Internet is the most powerful marketing communications tool ever, and it has empowered all of us. Unfortunately, it's all manipulated regularly by hate and terror groups. And we issue a regular report on the Internet. This was last year's report, and this is a worldwide report on the Internet for this, which will be released in a few weeks.
This report on the Internet shows the remarkable fact that in 1995 there was one hate site on the Internet. Today, in 2008, we have monitored 8,000 problematic hate websites, blogs and videos, including Facebook and YouTube, which teach young people, and whoever wants to take note, how to commit acts of terror, who you should in the world, and who you should go out and kill -- in particular, through six...
[cont'd next post]
|February 17th, 2008||#3|
HASTINGS: Rabbi, I'm going to have to ask you to wrap it up, but go ahead.
HIER: That, basically, is the gist of it, and I am open to any questions.
HASTINGS: I apologize.
HIER: No problem.
HASTINGS: Your remarks are fantastic, but we have the constraint of being out of here at a designated time, so you've just cut into my good friend Mark Levin, the executive director of Soviet Jewry. You've cut into his time.
So now, Mark you have four minutes.
HIER: Sorry about that.
LEVIN: We'll deal with it later, Rabbi.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to testify before the commission. I so want to recognize my good friend, Co-chairman Ben Cardin, as well as Senator Voinovich and Congressman Smith. We all go back a long ways, and we have accomplished much. And I think sometime today we should remember that it's taken years, but those years have meant much to the people who have benefited from your efforts.
In the interest of time, I'm going to truncate even more, Mr. Chairman. I think it's important that we recognize the progress that's been achieved since the breakup of the Soviet Union. But we're also aware that the Jewish population remains vulnerable to political, economic and social instabilities in the region.
In the almost 20 years since the dismantling of the Soviet empire, anti-Semitism remains a significant problem in the 15 successor states and across Europe as well. While state-sponsored anti-Semitism has been virtually eliminated, we've seen an upsurge, an unprecedented upsurge, in popular anti-Semitism that is visible and vocal.
I thought what I would do is just highlight some of what's going on in the region and then follow with some specific recommendations.
You can almost divide the former Soviet Union into two parts, the Slavic region and then the Central Asian and Caucasus region. We're experiencing a significant rise in popular anti-Semitism in the Slavic region.
As I said, I think it's important to note both the positives and the negatives. In Russia, President Putin has spoken out against extremism, and there was a recent prosecution under Russia's new hate crime laws. However, anti-Semitic acts are still being committed.
At the end of January of this year, there were three reported acts of desecration of Jewish institutions. Fortunately, arrests were made in two of the three of those attacks. However, it remains to be seen how these crimes will be prosecuted.
In Ukraine, the government has taken positive steps towards combating anti-Semitism. You've heard that President Yushchenko has introduced new hate crime legislation, and he did create the special operative unit to fight xenophobia. I'd like to submit for the record more documentation on this.
Despite this progress, anti-Semitic acts still occur in Ukraine. There have been two reported incidents so far this year. A rabbi was assaulted and a synagogue was vandalized. Investigations have begun in both cases.
In the Baltic states, we see sporadic acts of anti-Semitism. I think the major concern for the Jewish communities and for many of us here is that there are two areas in the Baltic states -- and throughout the region -- that need attention. One is the restitution of Jewish communal property, and the other is the tensions that develop around recognizing Baltic nationalists who fought alongside the Nazis during World War II.
In the Central Asia and the Caucasus, historically there's been little anti-Semitism. There are ethnic tensions among other groups, but it's interesting to note that you can go back decades, centuries -- and in some cases over 2,500 years -- where Jews have lived side by side with their Muslim neighbors with little problems.
In Azerbaijan we know of no recent reports of anti-Semitism, and the government has made efforts to utilize ODIHR's resources. Georgia has created a public defender which is mandated to address hate-motivated incidents and promote diversity. Kazakhstan has reported little or no anti-Semitic activity and has hosted a number of inter-religious conferences to promote tolerance and pluralism. And in 2010, I believe, they're the next chair.
There's been much accomplished in combating anti-Semitism across the former Soviet Union since the first OSCE conference held in Vienna. It's important to acknowledge these efforts; however, much more needs to be done.
And what I'd like to do now is just very quickly go through some of the recommendations that we've been making for several years now and that need to be followed through. But first I would add my voice to supporting the need for full funding, adequate funding to ensure that the issue of anti-Semitism is addressed.
Very quickly, recommendations. First, all countries must have adequate hate crime legislation, something that we've pushed, continue to push, something that the Parliamentary Assembly has addressed, and it continues to do this.
Secondly, provide funding for local law enforcement. You've heard a little about this so far. Third, continue to improve monitoring efforts. Without monitoring, we can't do what we need to do. And the last two -- implementation of tolerance education, and finally, reform the message of those media outlets.
Let me just finish by saying that we've learned over the last 30-some years that the commission has been existence that progress can be painfully slow. However, millions of people have benefited from your unwavering commitment to freedom and fighting intolerance. Today, millions continue to depend on this commitment.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
HASTINGS: Thank you very much. I've asked my colleagues for unanimous consent to submit into the record a statement from Senator Clinton, who is also a member of this commission. Hearing no objection, it will be admitted into the record.
Rabbi, I promise you the full five minutes. And that would just limit our questions. But please, sir, proceed. Rabbi Baker?
BAKER: Well, it's pro forma to thank you at the beginning of this, and I don't know what to say to try to convey that there should be nothing pro forma in thanking the four of you. I think all of us know the progress that has been made is really so much a result of your personal attention and efforts. The fact that it's such a bipartisan expression as well is so important and so critical.
I don't want to read remarks, even sort of abbreviated remarks, because I know that time is so short.
When this decade began, none of us expected we would be viewing the problem in the way we are. Ironically, in just the last couple of months, we've heard very strong statements from French President Sarkozy, from German Chancellor Merkel. They're welcome statements. It's wonderful they're saying it, but it's also a recognition of the seriousness of the problem.
The fact is that event those few years ago, European leaders weren't recognizing this issue. The message came, ironically, through here -- through America and through the Congress -- that something needed to be done. We've seen how the OSCE has become really the arena, the vehicle to address this issue, and the various points of success -- the Berlin conference and declaration, personal representatives, et cetera.
The fact is I think we all feel that the success, the continuation of this, is tenuous, is always at risk. There are those countries -- and they're friendly countries to us -- who have rejected from the beginning the idea of focusing specifically on the problem of anti-Semitism, who want to subsume it all together in some general discussion of intolerance, who want the whollistic approach, as they euphemistically refer to it.
One ambassador said to me there should be no ghettoization of discrimination. So we know this kind of attitude, and we're going to face it in the future.
The concerns I would like to emphasize here are really -- I'll focus in on two, and my written submission goes through in more detail on other things. I've said, and Congressman Smith has raised it, a concern about the police training program. It was an American offer. It really is an American export. And it's on the verge of falling apart.
Money is a problem, but not the problem. And parenthetically, to hear from the State Department that we've contributed $100,000 over three years doesn't really seem to me to be a great expression of support. But the fact is the people who have been participating in many cases are volunteering their time, and what we're seeing now is, despite the success, it's being denigrated.
There are elements out there that are really trying to undercut it, trying to disparage what it has done, even as they're about now to go on to Bosnia and to the Czech Republic in the next couple of weeks. I think it really behooves you here to take this up at a serious and high level and look into it.
The second area I wanted to focus on was Eastern Europe, because I think with all of the developments that have happened in Western Europe, we've lost sight that there are very real problems there. There was a kind of effort to fast track confronting the difficult period of holocaust era history in these countries to do so many things that other countries have wrestled with for decades.
There have been successes, but the fact is we see now among our new NATO allies problems in all of these countries -- extremist parties which still gain currency, difficulty in dealing with that holocaust era, which has become a new vehicle for expressions of anti-Semitism, whether it's even with property restitution or providing holocaust era history in the curricula of these countries. This is encompassed by the OSCE, and we can focus there and do more.
Among the various conclusions or recommendations that I wanted to make here in this testimony, the importance of the personal representatives I echo virtually everyone else from whom we've heard.
The concern about budget, because budget ultimately shows where our emphasis, where our concerns are. And if we're going to work on this consensus basis in the OSCE and are not prepared to come forward to participate or target support, then I think we're going to have a very, very difficult time.
Finally, the role of ODIHR. Many of us were skeptical in Berlin that it would really take on the task that it was given. I was one of those skeptics, but I believe it has done it, and it has done it in a serious way. But because of inattention, because of lack of funding, we really are in danger of losing these things, and it would be very hard to regain them in the future.
Thank you very much.
HASTINGS: As the senators leave, I want to thank both of them so very much.
And you'll be pleased to know, Senator Voinovich, that Steve Minikes and I had an opportunity for a visit in Georgia. He was an election observer, as was Andrew Baker and (inaudible). Thank you both.
Senator Smith -- oh, Congressman Smith -- I just elevated you, Chris. This atmosphere over here... Go ahead with any questions you may have.
SMITH: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Very briefly again. The time is short.
I would be interested, Rabbi Baker, in the law enforcement officers program. What would it take in dollars and cents to inject a sufficient amount of money to get that up and saved, frankly?
And let me just say the whole issue of free speech, which we all know is a hallowed human right that no one, I think, takes more seriously in the world than the United States of America -- and that is a strongly bipartisan, two centuries-old concept -- but I'm concerned that the incitement to hate gets protected, unnecessarily so, on the Internet and in other fora.
My question is -- just parenthetically -- I'm sponsoring a bill, and I've held a series of hearings, and now we just had another hearing that Tom Lantos chaired, and the bill is called the Global Online Freedom Act. And from that we've learned beyond any reasonable doubt that countries like the Peoples Republic of China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and many others are using the Internet to find, incarcerate, jail and torture men and women who are promoting human rights and those who are trying to espouse their religious beliefs.
We recently had Yahoo back. We originally had Google, Microsoft, Cisco and Google testify, and it became very clear that the technology is such that certain types of materials can very easily by these companies be taken down. They do it in the reverse to suppress religious freedom and human rights, and certainly when it comes to child porn, which is not a protected right anywhere -- hopefully, it never is, and other types of obscenity -- that, too, can be taken down and prosecuted.
But the reverse also is true. In a country like our own, where free speech is so important -- and I'm certain we all believe that -- as you pointed out, 8,000 problematic websites, Rabbi Hier, and there was only one during the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing -- they are proliferating. They are promoting and spewing out hate with real world consequences in terms of people who get attacked. And terrorism, obviously, and the nexus between anti-Semitism and terrorism is very real, and that frightens me as well.
I think we need to revisit -- I'm throwing this out very quickly -- the notion that free speech somehow can be inclusive of anti-Semitic hate in and of its own right, but it also leads very close and quickly to incitement, and I think we have to mount an effort, without doing any damage whatsoever to free speech rights, to this exploitation of our fundamental freedoms, to promote hate.
BAKER: Let me address the issue of the police training. I think, in terms of funding, what ODIHR was looking for in covering the cost of the American police commander is about 50,000 euro. I think the money is not the main problem now.
I think that just somehow it doesn't seem to have the vocal support that really was there when Steven Minikes was our ambassador and when you were in Berlin and taking up this issue. And unless you are prepared, I think, to take it up again, then the money itself is not going to be the main difficulty. It's going to face, really, the lack of, I think, a sense of morale and support from our people, from New Jersey, from the FBI background, who have been key to making this what it is.
I'll leave it to someone else to speak about the Internet, if you don't mind.
BURDETT: I'd like to just mention, briefly, the Anti-Defamation League is the American partner of a group called the International Network Against Cyber Hate. It's a group of NGOs from all over this region who are working cooperatively in different legal contexts within the First Amendment, working with providers, and we will be hosting an upcoming conference with them.
And I would be happy to work with you and your staff to look at this to take advantage of this convening of experts to talk through this very important issue.
HIER: I make two short comments on both questions.
First, with reference to the police training. The Museum of Tolerance has trained 110,000 frontline police. It is probably the largest frontline trainer of police officers in the United States.
Last year four countries sent their senior police to the Museum of Tolerance -- Russia, France, Germany and Canada. And I can tell you the impact on police is enormous after that. And I fully support it's ludicrous to imagine that that is the budget that the United States can come up with to a program that can do so much good.
With respect to hate on the Internet, which I commented before, of course, when it crosses the line, we all support freedom of speech. It's what America is all about. It's the essence of America.
But when an Internet site crosses the line, in our report -- Rabbi Cooper, my colleague, is a world expert on the Internet, and he's sitting here -- he's going to release a new report. One will show a new Internet site which shows how to kill Mexicans. And it shows you how to do it. It goes into details and shows you exactly what happens. What you see is, after the exercise is over, hundreds of dead Mexicans.
Now, the question is whether that crosses the line of whether that is a specific threat against a community. And that is something that there are two things to do -- first of all, to exercise the influence that the Congress has, that NGOs have, that American Jewish organizations and other organizations have, to get to the companies that are hosting that Internet site and put pressure on them to take it down, as we are doing now with the sites involved.
But I'm sure that Rabbi Cooper, my colleague, who, as I said, is a world expert on this subject, will be happy to work with the Congress on these matters.
HASTINGS: Mark, very briefly. We have very little time.
LEVIN: Very quickly, Congressman Smith, the part of the world where I come from, it is a fine line right now. There's great concern about too much government control and intervention in the flow of information, so I agree with you it's something we have to be very careful about to ensure that those that spread a message of hate aren't able to cross that line and not have to worry about adequate prosecution.
HASTINGS: Thank you all very much for a most incisive set of comments and helpful and constructive proposals for us to undertake from legislation all the way back across the board to administrative things that likely can be done under the aegis of the OSCE. The Helsinki Commission is deeply appreciative of all of you.
I appreciate my colleague, Chris Smith, for staying for the whole hearing and the senators being able to be here for as long as they have.
I have one question, and it will put us right at 4:30 and 15 seconds. Senator Grafstein from Canada and I have been in active discussions regarding a counter conference to Durban II. Would you be supportive of such an effort, if he and I and others took the lead in that regard?
HIER: I would be very supportive. At the Simon Wiesenthal Center, we think it should be done. It's the only way to counteract what's happening.
BURDETT: We have talked about an early 2009 high-level conference, which coincidentally is at the same time, and I think it's one of the reasons we need to move forward with this activity in OSCE. Whether it's a reaction or a proactive step, it comes at the same time, and that's very opportune.
LEVIN: Mr. Chairman, yes.
BAKER: I think if it's something that is to be undertaken by you, Representative Hastings, and by Jerry Grafstein, we'd think very, very highly of it. So by all means, please.
HASTINGS: I thank you all so very, very much. We are 4:30 on the dot.
The hearing is closed.
[Whereupon the hearing ended at 4:30 p.m.]
[No link - is popup from link in post #1 (above)]
Last edited by Alex Linder; February 17th, 2008 at 10:45 PM.
|December 6th, 2008||#4|
Commissioner applauds adoption of EU-wide framework to combat racism and xenophobia
Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission: 'Racism and xenophobia have no place in Europe.'
BRUSSELS (EJP)—“Racism and xenophobia have no place in Europe. Nor should it in any other part of the world. Dialogue and understanding should overcome hatred and provocation,” said Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission.
Barrot, who is in charge of justice, freedom and security within the EU executive body, welcomed the recent adoption by the EU Council of Justice and Interior Ministers of the so-called 'Framework Decision' on combating racism and xenophobia, seven years after it had first been presented by the European Commission.
“I warmly welcome the introduction of severe and effective sanctions against racism and xenophobia that are direct violations of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, principles upon which the European Union is founded and which are common to the Member State,” Barrot stated.
The Framework Decision is considered as an important tool for sanctioning on the EU level racist and xenophobic crimes.
EU member states will have two years to introduce severe and effective sanctions of at least between 1 and 3 years of imprisonment against those who intentionally publicly incite to violence or hatred by dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material, directed against persons defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.
Similar sanctions will apply to those who publicly condone, deny or grossly trivialise crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined in the statute of the International Criminal Court and crimes defined by the Tribunal of Nüremberg.
But EU ministers stopped short of specifically outlawing Holocaust denial.
Germany, which chaired the EU in the first half of 2007 had pushed hard for a blanket ban on Holocaust denial as a moral obligation because of its Nazi past, but the bid has consistently fallen foul of free speech concerns.
Countries like Britain, Ireland and the Scandinavian states resisted over the years unified legislation as a violation of civil liberties.
According to a report of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), extremism and racism are on the rise throughout Europe and racist political discourse is increasingly common in mainstream European politics.
Data collected show that there is "evidence of public acceptance of racist crime and mistreatment of ethnic and religious minorities, including within the police and other relevant authorities".
|December 24th, 2008||#5|
Join Date: Aug 2007
Lady Michele Renouf's fight against jailing opinions
"Speak what you think now in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
|May 1st, 2011||#6|
PDF articles list of all sorts of laws or proposed laws touching on free speech in Europe
|May 1st, 2011||#8|
[They seem to have stopped publishing "Equal Voices" around 2007 when FRA was established.]
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) is an advisory body of the European Union. It was established in 2007 by a legal act of the European Union and is based in Vienna, Austria.
The FRA helps to ensure that fundamental rights of people living in the EU are protected. It does this by collecting evidence about the situation of fundamental rights across the European Union and providing advice, based on evidence, about how to improve the situation. The FRA also informs people about their fundamental rights. In doing so, it helps to make fundamental rights a reality for everyone in the European Union.
What is the Agency's geographical scope
The Agency focuses on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU and its 27 Member States. Candidate countries and countries which have concluded a stabilisation and association agreement with the EU can be invited to participate following a special procedure.
Introduction to the FRA networking partners
The FRA works with a variety of stakeholder organisations from across the European Union that are active in the field of fundamental rights, benefiting from their experience on the ground.
These organisations are at European, international, national or local level.
EU Institutions and other EU bodies
European Union Member States
Council of Europe
Other International organisations
National Human Rights Institutions and Equality Bodies
|September 4th, 2012||#9|
Revisionism's Final Victories
Perhaps France fell first, in 1991, with its loi Gayssot. Then (or slightly before) fell Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, not necessarily in that order. All these countries, and of course Israel, have capitulated to historical revisionism in the most abjectly desperate manner imaginable: they now officially, with laws, threaten people who express certain views of recent history with fines and imprisonment for so doing. Specifically, these countries, and other countries by various devices, punish “Holocaust Denial” with the mechanisms originally emplaced for dealing with rapists, murderers, thieves, and other such perpetrators of death and destruction.
They’ve all given up. They’ve given up on social disapprobation, they’ve given up on the wisdom of crowds, and they’ve given up on all pretense, otherwise dear to their regimes, of freedom of expression. They’ve fallen back on the scoundrel’s last recourse: legal prohibition—the very same device with which once the United States sought to contain Demon Alcohol, and with which it, and other countries, continue to assault what might be styled “freedom to ingest.”
Of course, it fails. It fails frequently and widely, and ironically, it exacerbates its own failure in inciting, and even rewarding, those who contrive by various means—nowadays often the Internet—to circumvent and overcome its ostensibly intended effects. And, with regularity, it claims victims—examples for The Rest to behold—in the form of transgressors who are investigated, raided, accused, stripped of honors and degrees and livelihoods and even citizenships, and fined, and jailed, and publicly excoriated. In doing this, it creates not only opponents with massively reinforced wills to resist, but public martyrs as well—prisoners of conscience whose antecedent is none less than Jesus Christ himself, and the long trains of succeeding martyrs in both Christianity and in other religions and causes, who form the panoply with which ultimately the rectitude of their causes can be more brilliantly illuminated for the inspiration of new recruits.
Drug dealers thrown into prison could avail themselves of an idealistic basis for refuting the legitimacy of their incarceration by asserting their support for the right of people to acquire the substances of their choice for introduction into their own bodies, but drug dealers seem not to do this. One reason for this might be the enormous profits that successful dealers enjoy from plying their trade, though in honest contemplation, this factor does not in the slightest diminish the point. Those espousing a disapproved understanding of history, on the other hand, serve a small and rather parsimonious “market” of truth-seekers who, in the event, fail notably to enrich their purveyors. While, like drug dealers, revisionists may be marginalized and dispossessed by any of many means, they never attain anything resembling the wealth and opulent lifestyles often seen among the purveyors of chemical freedoms.
And one other critical difference: although often themselves the victims of violence, the purveyors of intellectual freedom as regards history never themselves employ violence—not even, in many recorded cases, the sorts of defensive violence that could protect their persons and their (meager) properties from assault by their violent detractors. In this, all revisionists of record resemble not only the Christian Son of God, but Gandhi, The Buddha, and many others whose influence ultimately has pervaded both consciences and institutions to an extent that should give pause to those who undertake to oppose them.
Professor Robert Faurisson in a hospital bed following a near fatal attack by Zionist thugs on 16 September 1989.
Those who oppose them, particularly in the ambit of this Holocaust matter, may have managed, indeed, to disguise themselves in the various cloaks under which the casual observer might infer, however indistinctly, the forces of righteousness, or of opposition to racism, or discrimination, or some other of the principles of civilization to which the virtuously inclined might fancy themselves to be devoted.
This distinction—between those moved, on the one hand, by the implications of tangible evidence and, on the other, by the interested confabulations of those who say they were there at that time—should be made by those who wish to know what might have been done to whom, by whom, when, where, how, and even, in the best of worlds, exactly why.
But, in numerous regulated regions, this is not to be. Superior forces—forces superior to the common man (or woman)—will stipulate what may be uttered to the public ear, and what may not. The rationales for such control of thoughts are numerous. They encompass suppressing the re-emergence of a doctrine advanced by a political party under which Germany disastrously lost a genocidal war, spreading “false history,” “offending” various groups apparent within the polity, inciting intergroup disaffection, and on and on in such manner.
They are all—as such measures always are—driven by an ulterior agenda. The agenda in this case encompasses not only the desire of a cohesive group to eternally wrap itself in the mantle of victimhood, but far more urgently, to enshroud in the same mantle the depredations that Israel has long visited on the natives of Palestine, the taxpayers of Germany and the United States, and, with the attainment of the capability to launch missiles with nuclear warheads from long-range submarines, the entirety of humanity that lives within 500 miles of any ocean.
True history has its opponents, everywhere and always. It may, here and there, and now and then, also have its would-be adherents. These two communities, such as they may respectively be empowered, and motivated, and suppressed, and successful, eke out between their contentions, what is “known” and understood by those many whose interests place them between the poles represented by the opposing camps.
The interposition of law in favor of one side in this contest announces defeat on the part of the group so favored.
Victory is documentably theirs.
And inevitable defeat as well.