WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Co-Chair of the U.S. Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been reappointed as the Special Representative on Antisemitism, Racism and Intolerance for the 57-nation Organization Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly. Among Senator Cardin’s ongoing responsibilities in this position is to raise awareness of the heightened problems of prejudice and discrimination in the OSCE area, including antisemitism and other discrimination based on religion, race, ethnicity and other factors.
“Hate and ignorance are fueling blatant antisemitic, racist, and other attacks at an alarming rate here in America and worldwide, fanning the flames of extremism, tearing apart communities, and degrading faith in institutions and the rule of law. We cannot allow such activity to become normalized. Each incident needs to be treated with the utmost seriousness as we band together to discourage such vicious language and activity. Since 2015, I have had the honor and grave responsibility to bring these issues to the forefront of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, spurring dialogue and action to counter the challenges we all are dealing with today. America is not alone in facing this problem and we must continue to work with our partners throughout the OSCE region to build coalitions and share best practices that counter antisemitism and other hate-based intolerance and aggression, including threats and actions directed at immigrants and refugees.”
Senator Cardin was first appointed the Special Representative on Antisemitism, Racism and Intolerance for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in 2015. Since that time, he has:
- Underscored the need for communities, both at home and abroad, to address and combat antisemitism as a particularly malignant type of intolerance, including through education and leadership.
- Urged state governments to proactively address antisemitism at high level events, including the OSCE’s annual conference on combatting antisemitism and at meetings of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
- Supported the development of OSCE commitments setting out actions for states to take in addressing antisemitism, as well as intolerance and discrimination.
- Supported the OSCE’s multi-year Words into Action project which developed handbooks and other, practical tools to aid local government officials to address, combat, and reduce instances of antisemitic acts and hate crimes.
- Chaired a hearing of the U.S. Helsinki Commission on the “Alarming Rise in Antisemitism and Its Threat to Democracy.”
- Organized high-level events to increase awareness of these issues among governments, policy makers, and thought leaders, including partnering with OSCE’s High Commissioner on National Minorities to ensure diversity, inclusion, and a human rights-based approach by community police forces.
- Convened a meeting in the U.S. Capitol with fellow lawmakers, high-level officials from across the government and the nonprofit sector who are actively engaged in countering antisemitism to generate consensus on the need for a unified national strategy to combat antisemitism. The meeting was followed up by a White House meeting led by Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and the eventual release by the Biden-Harris administration of the first-ever national strategy.