Colin Powell’s Remarks at The Conference on Anti-Semitism
of The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(April 28, 2004)
German Ministry of Foreign Affairs
POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Moderator, Chairman Passy, Minister
Fischer, Fellow Ministers and Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is
a great pleasure for me to be here representing President Bush and the
people of the United States.
Chairman Passy, let me thank you for your leadership
in planning and organizing this important conference on anti-Semitism.
I also wish to extend my sincere appreciation to the German Government
and to my good friend Joschka Fischer for hosting our gathering and
for taking a strong stand against this age-old yet active and evolving
form of intolerance. And let me take this occasion to honor President
Rau, not just for opening the conference, but also for his leadership
against anti-Semitism and on so many other compelling moral issues during
his 52 years of distinguished public service to Germany and to the world.
Berlin is a fitting backdrop for our meeting. The firestorm
of anti-Semitic hatred that was the Holocaust
was set here in Berlin. The Holocaust was no ordinary conflagration,
but a colossal act of arson, unprecedented in scale with the annihilation
of a people as its purpose. Six million Jews and millions of other men,
women and children perished in the flames of fascism. European civilization
as we thought we knew it was rent asunder.
Yet, it was also here in Berlin that a new, democratic
Germany rose from the ashes of the Second World War. And in this city,
a new Europe, whole and free, was born after the fall of that other
great tyranny of the 20th century: communism.
Now, in the opening decade of the 21st century, we,
55 democratic nations of Europe, Eurasia and America, have come to Berlin
to stamp out the new fires of anti-Semitism within our societies, and
to kindle lights of tolerance so that future generations will never
know the unspeakable horrors that hatred can unleash.
When President Bush visited the Auschwitz
death camp last year he renewed the United States commitment to
oppose anti-Semitism with these words: This site is a sobering
reminder that when we find anti-Semitism, whether it be in Europe, in
America or anywhere else, mankind must come together to fight such dark
Today, we confront the ugly reality that anti-Semitism
is not just a fact of history, but a current event.
At a planning session for this conference, Benjamin
Meed, the President of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors,
said Sixty years after the Holocaust I never thought that I would
be invited to a meeting on anti-Semitism in Europe. Indeed.
We are appalled that in recent years the incidence
of anti-Semitic hate crimes has been on the increase within our community
of democratic nations. All of us recognize that we must take decisive
measures to reverse this disturbing trend.
Our states must work together with non-governmental
organizations, religious leaders and other respected figures within
our societies to combat anti-Semitism by word and deed. We need to work
in close partnership to create a culture of social tolerance and civic
courage, in which anti-Semitism and other forms of racial and religious
hatred are met with the active resistance of our citizens, authorities
and political leaders.
We must send the clear message far and wide that anti-Semitism
is always wrong and it is always dangerous.
We must send the clear message that anti-Semitic hate
crimes are exactly that: crimes, and that these crimes will be aggressively
We must not permit anti-Semitic crimes to be shrugged
off as inevitable side effects of inter-ethnic conflicts. Political
disagreements do not justify physical assaults against Jews in our streets,
the destruction of Jewish schools, or the desecration of synagogues
and cemeteries. There is no justification for anti-Semitism.
It is not anti-Semitic to criticize
the policies of the state of Israel.
But the line is crossed when Israel or its leaders are demonized or
vilified, for example by the use of Nazi symbols and racist caricatures.
We must send the clear message to extremists of the
political right and the political left alike that all those who use
hate as a rallying cry dishonor themselves and dishonor their cause
in the process.
Regrettably, my country has its share of anti-Semites
and skinheads and other assorted racists, bigots and extremists, who
feed on fear and ignorance and prey on the vulnerable.
As a nation of many united as one, we are determined
to speak out and take action at home and abroad against anti-Semitism
and other forms of intolerance and to promote the rights of persons
belonging to minorities. As President Bush has said: America stands
for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity.
Fortunately the overwhelming majority of Americans
are repelled by these hate-mongers and reject their vicious ways, their
vicious views, their vicious attitudes. Overwhelmingly the American
people embrace diversity as a national asset and tolerance is embraced
as a civic virtue. Our laws and our leaders reflect those enlightened
Not only do we believe that combating hatred is the
right thing to do, we think that promoting tolerance is essential to
building a democratic, prosperous and peaceful world. Hatred is a destroyer,
not a builder. People consumed by hate cannot construct a better future
for themselves or for their children.
So much of the misery and instability around the world
today is caused or exacerbated by ethnic and religious intolerance,
whether its central Africa or the Middle East, Northern Ireland
or Cyprus, Kosovo or Darfur. The distance from prejudice to violence,
intolerance to atrocity, can be perilously short. The lessons of the
Holocaust are timeless and urgent. In this new century, it is more important
than ever for our leaders and citizens to counter anti-Semitism and
other forms of hatred whenever and wherever they meet them.
It is especially important that we instill in our children
values and behaviors that can avert new calamities. The sixteen-nation
Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance
and Research has done a great deal already to increase understanding
among young people of the Holocaust and its enduring lessons. And we
welcome the growing interest on the part of other countries to join
that Task Force.
Tolerance, like hatred, is a learned behavior passed
from one generation to the next unless the new generation is educated
differently. Let tolerance be our legacy. May future generations of
schoolchildren read that in the early decades of the 21st century, mankind
finally consigned anti-Semitism to history, never to darken the world
The United States delegation, led by former New York
City Mayor Ed Koch, is here to listen. Theyre here to learn and
to share best practices against anti-Semitism. We will have the benefit
of Mayor Kochs direct experience dealing with hate crimes in the
worlds most ethnically diverse metropolis in my hometown, New
York City. Our delegation also draws expertise from Members of our Congress
and from close partnership with non-governmental leaders doing pioneering
work in the tolerance field.
The exchange of insights and ideas among our delegations
here in Berlin should form a solid basis for practical action by each
of our nations. There is much yet that we can do in key areas of law
enforcement, legislation and education to follow up on the decisions
we took last December in Maastricht.
Thats why Im pleased that last week the
Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe committed all of our 55 states to take further concrete actions
against anti-Semitism. The OSCEs Office for Democratic Institutions
and Human Rights in Warsaw will play a central role. This office now
has a clear mandate to work with member states to collect hate crimes
statistics, to track anti-Semitic incidents and to report publicly on
these matters. The office also will help states develop national legislation
against hate crimes and promote tolerance through education. And I know
that in the course of your deliberations here other ideas will arise
as to how we can put action behind our words, and whether we have institutionalized
these actions in a proper way.
So, my friends, here in Berlin, the 55 democratic nations
of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have come
together and will stand together and we will declare with one voice:
Anti-Semitism shall have no place among us. Hate shall find no
home within a Europe whole, free and at peace.
Thank you, Mr. Moderator.
Department of State