Thursday, June 7, 2007

From Bucharest: Defining the Topic: Background Issues

The day is finally over [we began with a 7:30 meeting this a.m.]. Let me try to recap some of the highlights of the day.

Background: This meeting, convened by the OSCE, is one of a series of meetings that have been held over the past few years to deal with European intolerance in general and antisemitism in particular. Though that definition might be a matter of some debate. More on that later.

The initial impetus for the first meeting was the spike in antisemitism in Europe. But after a while there were those who called for a more "holistic" approach to the problem, i.e. address intolerance against Muslim [aka Islamaphobia], homosexuals, Christians as well. In other words, group them all together.

There are many people, particularly most of those on the American delegation, who argue that antisemitism is something that is quite different from the other forms of discrimination. Antisemitism is a centuries old hatred that has resulted in genocide and mass murder more than once.

Most of those who argue for this position do not, in any way, diminish the importance of the discrimination many Muslims face in, for example, employment in France and other countries. Nor do they dimiish the significance of the attacks on mosques and Muslim centres.

However, they would argue that antisemitism is far more pervasive, runs deeper in the society, is not a question of the assimilation of immigrants, and is of such deep roots that it exists in places where they are no Jews.

This was a source of tension in the planning for the meeting and would become a theme during the meeting.

No comments: