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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 April, 2004, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Europe 'will fight anti-Semitism'
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy presents a yellow star of David to German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer
The Nazis forced Jews to wear a yellow star of David
European and North American states have pledged to fight a growing wave of anti-Semitism in the West.

The 55 members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the resurgent Middle East conflict could never justify attacks on Jews.

The countries promised concrete action, such as effective monitoring of anti-Semitic acts, and education programmes.

An EU report said attacks had risen in many states - the sharpest increase being a six-fold rise in France.

Jewish leaders said such attacks could not be excused as legitimate political protests about the policies of the Israeli government.

Yellow star

The two-day conference concluded with the OSCE unanimously agreeing the "Berlin Declaration".

It announced "unambiguously that international developments or political issues, including those in Israel or elsewhere in the Middle East, never justify anti-Semitism".

In a moving moment to end the event, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, the current OSCE chairman, handed over a yellow star, like the one his grandfather had been forced to wear during World War II, to his German counterpart Joschka Fischer.

"I can fulfil the legacy of my grandfather and return the yellow star to the Germans," he said.

He said the conference showed Europe was taking anti-Semitism seriously.

Yitzhak Rabin Street is unveiled in Berlin
Yitzhak Rabin Street is in Berlin's new government quarter
"We are particularly concerned that this hostility toward Jews, as individuals or collectively, has manifested itself in verbal and physical attacks and in the desecration of synagogues and cemeteries," he said.

"I believe our conference in the last two days has made a significant contribution to making our collective response to anti-Semitism more credible."

Mr Fischer said: "This declaration is not enough. Implementation is now crucial in the follow-up.

"As long as Jewish kindergartens have to be guarded, as long as people cannot wear a kippa (Jewish headcovering) on the streets... our work is not done."

The declaration committed the countries to compiling reliable statistics on anti-Semitic and other hate crimes, and to teaching children about the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed by the Nazis.

Outside the conference, Israeli President Moshe Katsav named a street in Berlin after the assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, an architect of the now abandoned Oslo Middle East peace accords.

EU vows to tackle anti-Semitism
19 Feb 04  |  Europe
Anti-Semitism row halts EU forum
06 Jan 04  |  Europe
Desecration of the dead
08 Dec 03  |  Magazine

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