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Jewish leaders urge end of Israel's 'demonization'
Updated: 2004-02-19 14:44

Two prominent Jewish leaders in a newspaper article to be published on Thursday say a European Commission seminar in Brussels on anti-Semitism would be a success if it led to an end to what they termed "the demonization of Israel."

In an article in London's Financial Times, World Jewish Congress President Edgar Bronfman and European Jewish Congress leader Cobi Benatoff said, "The most important achievement that can emerge from this conference is recognition of an emerging truth: No longer is violent anti-Semitism the exclusive domain of extreme right-wing forces; today's anti-Semitic agitators are largely those who would import the Middle East conflict to Europe."

The two Jewish leaders added, "We do not come to silence those who would criticize the policies of the Israeli government. ...criticism of Israel is not the issue. Rather, it is demonization of Israel as a Jewish state and as the state of the Jews.

"Political expediency cannot be substituted for moral rectitude. European leaders cannot allow criticism of Israel to serve as a fig leaf that covers and excuses anti-Semitic rhetoric as a prelude to violence. Make no mistake about it, words can do harm."

Benatoff and Bronfman added, "It is a moment for governments to stand up and be counted. To do so, their condemnation of anti-Semitism must be unambiguous, public and universal."

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