NEW YORK, Dec. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC is deeply disappointed that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was unable to adopt today the Working Definition of anti-Semitism, due to the obstructionist role of one of its 57 member-states, the Russian Federation.
"While Russia expresses concern about anti-Semitism, at the OSCE it continued in its traditional role of spoiler, torpedoing a number of OSCE actions, including adoption of the Working Definition of anti-Semitism," said Rabbi Andrew Baker, AJC Director of International Jewish Affairs, who attended the annual OSCE ministerial meeting in Hamburg.
Baker praised German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the OSCE Chair, for "leading the painstaking effort over months to achieve agreement on recognizing the working definition." OSCE members include all of Europe, Eurasia, the U.S., and Canada.
In his closing remarks as host of the OSCE meeting, Steinmeier said that for the organization's credibility member states must take concrete action "by finally agreeing on a common definition of anti-Semitism."
AJC, the global Jewish advocacy organization, was instrumental in developing the definition more than a decade ago, and continues to lead efforts to promote its use in understanding and responding to anti-Semitism. The definition was first adopted by the European Monitoring Centre (EUMC) in 2005, and earlier this year the 31 countries that comprise the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted it as well.
Over the past year, AJC has met with senior European government officials to encourage OSCE adoption of the definition. AJC maintains offices in Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Rome, and Warsaw.
"When governments recognize that the cancer of anti-Semitism harms not only Jews, but society at large, substantive efforts to combat and eradicate it will be more effective," said Baker. "A clear and comprehensive definition of anti-Semitism is critical to inform and strengthen the ability of governments to recognize the problem, while reassuring Jewish communities that, at last, they truly understand it."
The definition is an educational tool and guide for civil society monitors and government authorities to help them better understand the problem and how to combat it.
"The OSCE failure to adopt the definition is a disappointment to be sure, but the consensus support that was developed during these past months still has value," said Baker, who also serves as the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chair-in-Office on Combating Anti-Semitism. "We must build on what has already been achieved to foster its greater use by the individual states of the OSCE and members of the European Union."
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SOURCE American Jewish Committee