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Sunday, 27 March 2011

Anti-Semitism Conference Looks At Ways To Combat An Ancient Hatred

With each passing year, the enormity of the Holocaust seems to fade from collective memory.

One of the major manifestations of contemporary anti-Semitism is to deny the Holocaust ever happened, or to minimize its impact.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeatedly promises to enact a second Holocaust, threatening to eliminate the state of Israel.

That Holocaust denial often takes place alongside Holocaust glorification does not seem to give anti-Semites logical pause.

But the tragic history of the Jewish experience and the daunting challenges posed by anti-Semitism have not dismayed those committed to fighting it.

Several dozen human rights activists, historians, and government representatives recently gathered in Prague for a conference dedicated to “Confronting Anti-Semitism in Public Discourse.” The conference was sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

“It is deeply embarrassing that we have to deal with anti-Semitism some 66 years after the defeat of Nazi Germany,” said Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Jiri Schneider, whose remarks opened the conference.

Far from being some new ideology, contemporary anti-Semitism is “old poison in new bottles,” he said.

While Jewish stereotypes propagated by anti-Semites may be ancient, participants said anti-Semites have been able to harness new technology to spread and popularize their bigotry.

“Intolerant discourse has never been as global as it is now,” said Lithuanian Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, the director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

Though anti-Semitism is a global phenomenon, the conference focused on topics pertaining to the OSCE region.

Read the full item at Radio Free Europe