ICJP Steering Committee meeting

The Steering Committee of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians (ICJP), an initiative of the World Jewish Congress, met in New York City and Washington DC on 2/3 December 2013. Rep. Eliot L. Engel, the senior Democratic member of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, was appointed as the new ICJP chairman. The lawmakers which met with a number of Congressmen, heard briefings from experts and policymakers on Egypt and Iran, and held an luncheon with Ira Forman, US State Department  special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism.

The Steering Committee, which includes parliamentarians from Hungary, Ukraine, Belgium, France, Israel, Costa Rica and Canada, adopted resolutions on Iran and anti-Semitism in Europe and Latin America.

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) addressed the committee, which also heard off-the-record presentations from an expert on Egypt and an official at Treasury who enforces Iran sanctions.

At an open-press luncheon, US State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ira Forman said that the US government viewed with concern the mounting of anti-Semitism around the world, which he said has become “dramatically worse in the last decade” and especially since the financial crisis of 2008-9. He cited France, Hungary and Venezuela, among others, as countries the US was watching closely and said that stopping the assaults across Europe on religious freedoms, such as male circumcision, was “critical to the US government.”

Jewish lawmakers urge release of Jonathan Pollard

The group, which included lawmakers from Hungary, Ukraine, Belgium, France, Israel, Costa Rica and Canada, adopted resolutions on Iran and anti-Semitism in Europe and Latin America. It soon expects to pass a resolution on religious freedoms in Europe and to send a letter to President Obama calling for the commutation of the life sentence handed down 26 years ago to Jonathan Pollard.

The resolution on Iran denounces it for “its incitement to hatred, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial” and “reaffirms that Iran must never be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapons capability and that the nations of the world should work to actively prevent Iran from acquiring that capability through diplomacy and economic sanctions, while making clear that all options remain on the table.”

The resolution on anti-Semitism in Europe “applauds the EU Fundamental Rights Agency for compiling and publishing the “Discrimination and Hate Crime Against Jews in EU Member States” survey and “calls upon the Fundamental Rights Agency to follow up on these disturbing findings by publishing and disseminating information about EU and national laws and efforts which are supposed to protect Jewish people and other minorities from discrimination.”

The resolution on anti-Semitism in Latin America calls on governments to “strongly commit to fighting anti-Semitism, hate crimes and all forms of discrimination and intolerance, execute long-term strategies for those purposes, and enact anti-discrimination laws and effective implementation mechanisms.”

"The work of the ICJP is important for Jews everywhere,” Eliot Engel said, “and I am proud and honored to help lead and uphold its important mission."

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