Jerusalem, 30 August 1999

Minister Melchior Convenes Anti-semitism Forum

(Communicated by Minister of Social and Diaspora Affairs Spokesman)

Minister for Social and Diaspora Affairs Rabbi Michael Melchior today (Monday) 30.8.99, convened, for the first time in over a year, the Committee to Monitor Anti-Semitism. The committee expressed particular concern over the recent anti-Semitic attacks in Russia and the Ukraine, as well as other attacks elsewhere in the world.

Minister Melchior said, "Democracy is in danger in a country where there is anti-Semitism and racism. Therefore, there can be no so-called reasonable level of anti-Semitism and it must be confronted at all levels. Just as anti-Semitism knows no territorial or language barriers, the State of Israel also has to fight this worrying phenomenon, both out of a general responsibility and because of what has happened to the Jewish people."

Cabinet Secretary Yitzhak Herzog said, "This Committee reflects Israel’s national ethos as a Jewish state, whose role is to protect the Jewish people where they are, and to combat the phenomenon of anti-Semitism, which, paradoxically, has grown as the millennium nears."

The committee decided on a number of steps to coordinate awareness of the issue in various countries, including changing the committee’s name to the "Forum for Coordinating the Struggle Against Anti-Semitism," establishing a reaction team to respond to anti-Semitic outbreaks in the world media and in various government forums across the world, founding an internet site and briefing government ministers when they travel abroad on official visits.

An international conference to discuss anti-Semitism and raise the issue on the global agenda will be convened in Sweden in January 2000. World leaders including US President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are scheduled to attend.