Paris, 28 January 2010
In a letter to 56 State Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) newly appointed Chairman in Office, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabeyev, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre‘s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, wished the Minister success, adding that "in view of Kazakhstan’s record of ethnic harmony, your country is well-placed to address the unprecedented level - since World War II – of antisemitism across Europe."
Samuels emphasized that, “several of the OSCE’s 56 State Parties are in violation of the 2004 Berlin Declaration on Antisemitism, especially in that ‘political issues…in Israel…never justify antisemitism’ and of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency 2004 Working Definition that views ‘denying the Jewish people their right to self–determination e.g. by claiming that the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavour’, is a contributing factor to antisemitism.”
The letter continued, “so-called ‘anti-Zionism’ is merely a fig-leaf for traditional Jew-hatred, for the demonization of ‘Zionism – the national liberation movement of the Jewish people – excludes the right to Jewish sovereignty and, ipso facto, consigns the State of Israel to oblivion.”
Samuels named as the greatest present violators of their OSCE commitments to combat antisemitism as:
- “the United Kingdom, where homegrown Jihadi hatemongers tactically focus on Jews, while strategically targeting British democracy itself.
- both the United Kingdom and Norway are scenes of political agitation through universities, unions and the media, where campaigns are launched for the exclusion and the boycott of Israel and – by association – its Jewish supporters.
- Sweden, where Israelis are slandered as ‘harvesters of Palestinian body organs,’ in the spirit of the medieval blood libel. Only yesterday, the Mayor of Malmö reportedly urged his Jewish community ‘to distance itself from Israeli violations…’
- Spain and Turkey are both obsessed with conspiracy theories of Jewish world domination, based on the Tsarist Russian ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ – dubbed by the historian Norman Cohn, ‘a warrant for genocide.’”
The letter pointed out that “while the authorities of the aforementioned States Parties have, more or less, expressed selective condemnation of the above examples of hate phenomena, one OSCE member stands out in its intractability: Greece, where:
- mainstream media – replete with scurrilous caricatures – have incited to threat, intimidation and desecration of synagogues, cemeteries and Holocaust memorials.
- the 2008 trial of lawyer Kostas Plevris for incitement to violence through his book ‘Jews – the Whole Truth’ led to his acquittal on appeal. The Prosecutor, disturbingly, described his thesis as ‘a scientific work.
- Leader of the far-right Parliamentary party, LAOS, George Karatzaferis, remarked how ‘Jewish blood stinks.’ He had launched an abortive defamation case against the Wiesenthal Centre following its calls for his prosecution.
- The newspaper, Avriani, contended that the Jews were behind the current financial crisis and a popular radio comedian – on air – stated that ‘there are no good Jews… they are pigs and murderers, but their days are numbered.”
Samuels lamented that “none of these incidents resulted in protest from government, media, churches, NGO’s, intellectuals or unions,” continuing, “for the past five years, the Wiesenthal Centre – in cooperation with the valiant Greek Helsinki Monitor and the Anti-Nazi Initiative – has appealed for condemnation and counter-measures. These calls were met with almost universal silence.”
The centre noted that “only by invoking Greek contravention of OSCE provisions against hate, did Prime Minister George Papandreou – two days ago – condemn this month’s two successive arson attacks on the refurbished ancient synagogue of Crete. The worshippers of that synagogue had been deported by the Nazis to their deaths, at sea, on their way to Auschwitz.”
The letter protested that “even Papandreou’s belated statement – on the eve of the 27 January Holocaust Commemoration Day – was sadly tempered by Citizen Protection Minister, Michalis Chrysohoidis, who yesterday described the synagogue arson as ‘associated more with the general rise of violence and extremist groups, and less with the rise of antisemitism.’ This opportunity to acknowledge the foul spit of antisemitic bigotry in the collective face of Greek history, and its Jews, was crudely dismissed as an anonymous rainstorm.”
The Centre called on the new Chairman in Office “to organize in Kazakhstan – at an early date in your Chairmanship – an OSCE High-Level Conference on Antisemitism.”
“May Your Excellency and your country make the OSCE an instrument of consciousness-building for its States Parties, in regard to the gravity of the incidents listed in this letter. May you assist in establishing the OSCE as an effective structure for the containment of antisemitism and all forms of intolerance.” concluded Samuels.