By Nicholas Kralev
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published October 14, 2004
President Bush plans to sign a bill passed by both houses of
Congress that would establish a State Department office to monitor
anti-Semitism around the world, despite the departmentīs strong
objection, administration officials said yesterday.
"The bill is expected to arrive at the White House on Thursday
and the president intends to sign it," one official said.
The House and Senate, acting shortly before the Nov. 2 election,
passed the Global Anti-Semitism Awareness Act late last week.
"Itīs more of a bureaucratic nuisance than a real problem. We
are not going to fight a bill that has gained such political
momentum," a State Department official said.
Establishing an anti-Semitism monitoring office and producing an
annual report would duplicate work by other offices in charge of
monitoring human rights and religious freedom, officials say.
"We opposed creation of a separate office for the purpose and
opposed the mandating of a separate annual report," State Department
spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters.
"We expressed the view that separate reports on different
religions or ethnicities were not warranted, given that we already
prepare human rights reports and religious freedom reports on 190
countries," he said.
The legislation was introduced by Rep. Tom Lantos, California
Democrat and the only Holocaust survivor in Congress, in response to
the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe and the Middle East.
It requires the State Department to document acts of physical
violence against Jews, their property, cemeteries and places of
worship abroad, as well as government responses to such acts.
"We did support a bill that was introduced in the Senate by
Senator George Voinovich [Ohio Republican], which only required a
one-time report and didnīt establish a new office for this purpose,"
Mr. Boucher said.
He noted that the State Department has been "very active against
anti-Semitism," and that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has
either personally attended or sent representatives to various
conferences on the subject.
"Weīve put years of efforts into these issues - Holocaust
issues, religious freedom issues - and we feel that anti-Semitism is
one of the important priorities that we have sustained," Mr. Boucher
Some Jewish groups have criticized the State Department for
opposing Mr. Lantosī bill.
The Anti-Defamation League, a 91-year-old private organization
that combats racism, including anti-Semitism, supported Mr. Lantosī
bill for providing "an additional tool for the United States to
continue its leadership effort to hold governments accountable for
past failures and to encourage and note progress."
Last month, more than 100 prominent Americans sent a letter to
Mr. Powell endorsing the measure. "The fight against anti-Semitism
deserves specific, focused attention," said the letter signed by
Jeane Kirkpatrick, President Reaganīs ambassador to the United
Nations, former Republican Rep. Jack Kemp and others.
Copyright Đ 2006
News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
Return to the article