Senate Includes Anti-Semitism Focus in State Department Authorization


July 11, 2003 – NCSJ welcomed Senate inclusion of an amendment to require the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom to include a section on anti-Semitism. Senator George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) sponsored the measure as Amendment 1186 to S. 925, the bill authorizing appropriations for the Department of State and other international programs in fiscal year 2004, and it was accepted Thursday without objection. The Senate is likely to vote on the full authorization package within the next week.

“Given the successful efforts to move anti-Semitism onto the European agenda, especially through last month’s Vienna conference by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, such a focus in our own reporting sets a further example for other nations,” said Dr. Robert J. Meth, Chairman of NCSJ. “It is fitting that Senator Voinovich should be behind this amendment, given his early and consistent leadership in pushing for active American engagement through the OSCE.” Dr. Meth and NCSJ Executive Director Mark B. Levin joined other Americans and Jewish leaders for the OSCE Conference on Anti-Semitism, which took place June 19-20 in Vienna (Vienna information is available online at

The Voinovich Amendment would strengthen the focus of State Department reporting under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, which established the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom as well as the Office of International Religious Freedom, the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The annual report provides country-by-country information on the status of religious freedom and government practices, are available online at

According to Dr. Joel M. Schindler, President of NCSJ, “The past few decades have witnessed the rise of a dedicated generation of American diplomats, who are committed to advancing human rights, democracy, and religious freedom around the world. This new provision will further empower them to sensitize foreign governments on the issue of anti-Semitism, and to recognize those nations that are taking serious steps rather than ignoring the persistence of this ancient bigotry.”

Mark B. Levin, Executive Director of NCSJ, added, “Vienna was a groundbreaking event, which truly started a new process within Europe that will hopefully provide a model for the rest of the world as well. Until the OSCE and other international institutions are ready to assume this type of reporting, however, it is vital that the United States help set the tone. As with other State Department reports, this enhancement will provide a credible and consistent standard for measuring anti-Semitic violence, societal attitudes, and governmental response.”

NCSJ: Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia – a voluntary, non-profit agency created in 1971 – is the mandated central coordinating agency of the organized American Jewish community for policy and activities on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in the former Soviet Union. NCSJ comprises nearly 50 national organizations and over 300 local federations, community councils and committees across the United States. Through this extensive network, NCSJ mobilizes the resources, energies and talents of millions of U.S. citizens, and also represents the American Jewish community in dealings with similar national groups abroad, and at international fora.

Source: NCSJ