from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

State Department to Tackle Anti-Semitism in the Middle East

August 11, 2011

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Tracking manifestations of anti-Semitism in the Middle East, where it is widespread and often state-supported, is a hugely difficult task that the State Department has not done well over the years, under several administrations. It is therefore very good news that today the Department seems determined to do better and is acting.

The Department announced today a grant of $200,000 to MEMRI:

“The Department of State’s Office of International Religious Freedom in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor awarded a $200,000 grant to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) to conduct a project that documents anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and Holocaust glorification in the Middle East. This grant will enable MEMRI to expand its efforts to monitor the media, translate materials into ten languages, analyze trends in anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial and glorification, and increase distribution of materials through its website and other outlets.”

Hats off to the Department and especially to the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal. I must acknowledge a special interest here: I sit on MEMRI’s board, and am a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. It is noteworthy that the grant, by referring to Holocaust denial, clarifies that this is a form of anti-Semitism. These topics are extremely sensitive, dealing as they do with Muslim anti-Semitism, and this helps explain why the U.S. Government has sometimes shied away from confronting the phenomenon.

For this reason as well, the new grant announced by Ms. Rosenthal deserves notice and commendation.