"Anti-Semitism is like cancer, it can lay dormant in the body and then awaken suddenly; ugly and cruel," Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, who is also in charge of Diaspora affairs and combating anti-Semitism, said this week during a European conference.
Herzog traveled to Bucharest to participate in an international conference organized by the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) on battling racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.
"We are here to form a coalition of nations who will fight anti-Semitism and we must all take an active role in this struggle and in educating against ant-Semitism," he said in his speech.
Herzog also demanded that past resolutions regarding anti-Semitism be implemented without delay, chiefly promoting legislation to combat anti-Semitism and to enforce existing legislation.
During the conference, Herzog met with the Romanian prime minister and foreign minister, as well as several leaders of key Jewish organizations from various parts of the world.
The annual conference was attended by delegates from 56 countries. The chairmanship rotates and the position is currently held by Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos. Israel holds an observer status in the organization.
Other points include appointing special commissioners to lay down guidelines for education programs and the formulation of an overall plan to combat anti-Semitism. This while providing better security for Jewish institutions such as schools, synagogues and community centers.
Herzog called on the delegates to urge their countries to stand firm against Iran. "Stop the Iranians. To stop anti-Semitism we must first stop the campaign of destruction and hate orchestrated by Iran," he said.
Elie Wiesel: Xenophobia still a problem in Europe
The topic of anti-Semitism was brought before the OSCE at the behest of the American and German delegations. In July 2006 the OSCE ruled that all 56 member nations were to take a series of steps to help combat anti-Semitism in their countries.
During the conference delegates discussed the British academic boycott of Israel. The US congressional delegation proposed an exchange program for British and Israeli academics despite the boycott. The proposal was met with sweeping approval by most conference-goers.
Nobel prize laureate Elie Wiesel told the conference in a video message that racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism still plague many European countries.
Wiesel, a Romanian-born Holocaust survivor, said he wanted to ''warn against the existence of racist and anti-Semitic groups carrying out public activities'' in several European countries, without naming any.
''Anti-Semitism is the oldest form of hatred in history and is the only one of the serious illnesses of the 20th century which has survived and is still around, with communism and Nazism mostly gone now,'' he said, adding that the Nazis' access to power was the determinant factor that led to the Holocaust.
AP contributed to the report