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Press Release

ADL Urges European Commission To Condemn Trade Minister's Anti-Semitic Remarks

New York, NY, September 3, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on the President of the European Commission to condemn anti-Semitic statements made in a radio interview by the European Union's trade minister.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following letter to Jose Manuel Barroso, who currently holds the presidency of the European Commission:

Dear Mr. President:

We urge you to issue a clear and public condemnation of Karel de Gucht's anti-Semitic remarks yesterday to VRT radio.

Mr. de Gucht said, "There exists among a majority of the Jews a belief – it's hard to describe it otherwise – that they're right. And a belief is something that is difficult to combat with rational arguments. It has nothing to do with whether they are religious or not. Even the secular Jews share the same belief of, in fact, being right."

To assert that "a majority of the Jews" are stubborn and irrational is a clear and negative characterization of the Jewish people. More succinctly, it is anti-Semitism.

We are deeply concerned that EU Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly would not condemn a clear case of anti-Semitism, asserting instead that de Gucht's remarks were "personal comments" and reiterating the Commission's position on the Middle East Peace Process.

Today Mr. de Gucht correctly said that "anti-Semitism has no place in today's world and is fundamentally against our European values," but he obviously does not recognize that his comments were anti-Semitic. He merely expressed regret that his comments "have been interpreted in a sense that I did not intend" and that he "did not mean in any possible way to cause offense or stigmatize the Jewish Community."

Mr. President, if you believe as we do, that the leaders of Europe have a positive obligation to denounce anti-Semitism whenever it arises, and especially when it occurs at such a high level, we urge you to promptly and clearly condemn Mr. de Gucht's remarks.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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