U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted Tuesday that criticism against Israeli policy must be separated from a demonization of Jews and the State of Israel, adding that the U.S. must remain vigilant against Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.
Addressing a conference on genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Clinton spoke out forcefully against anti-Semitism, bigotry and violence.
“We must remain vigilant against [Holocaust] deniers and against anti-Semitism, because when heads of state and religious leaders deny the Holocaust from their bully pulpits, we cannot let their lies go unanswered,” she told the symposium on preventing genocide in the 21st century, which was presented in cooperation with the Council on Foreign Relations and CNN.
“When we hear Holocaust glorification and public calls to, quote, ‘finish the job,’ we need to make clear that violence, bigotry will not be tolerated. And yes, when criticism of Israeli government policies crosses over into demonization of Israel and Jews, we must push back,” she said in her keynote address.
“Despite all we have learned and accomplished in the last 70 years, ‘never again’ remains an unmet, urgent goal – at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, we have seen campaigns of harassment and violence against groups of people because of their ethnic, racial, religious or political backgrounds, and even some which aimed at the destruction of a particular group of people, fitting the definition of genocide,” she said.
A large-scale public survey unveiled at the symposium showed that Americans believe genocide is still “very possible” (94%), yet preventable (66%). Americans are quite skeptical about the effectiveness of the international community in preventing or stopping genocide (55% believe the international community does not act effectively at preventing civilians from genocide or mass atrocities), and half of the Americans polled do not see the International Criminal Court in the Hague as sufficient deterrence for future perpetrators.
Some 76% believe that education about the history of genocide can help prevent future atrocities, and the good news is that younger Americans were more likely to present the correct definition of genocide. When asked to identify words associated with genocide, the words most often cited were “Holocaust, Rwanda, Hitler, Africa.” Asked what causes genocide, 52% mentioned “power and politics,” 45% “ethnic and religious differences,” and 36% “intolerance.”
Only 8% of the Americans think the U.S. is most responsible for preventing genocide, while 43% believe this is a responsibility of international bodies. Yet 78% of the respondents support the U.S. taking military action to stop genocide or mass atrocities, with 53% seeing multilateral action as the most effective military strategy. Only 10% think unilateral action by the U.S. is most effective.
Some 10% of those polled see Syria as America’s top foreign policy interest (24% mentioned Afghanistan and 16% Iran), but 55% think the U.S. should take military action in Syria.
Commissioned by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the poll was based on a telephone survey of 1,000 people conducted by Penn Schoen Berland between June 30 and July 10, 2012. The poll has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.
Mark Penn, CEO of Burson- Marsteller and Penn Schoen Berland, called the results “striking.” He noted that “Americans believe they have a moral responsibility to prevent or stop genocide around the world, even if it means putting boots on the ground. But they view multilateral action as the most effective military strategy for prevention. They are well-educated on the correct definition of genocide, especially young Americans, and believe education plays an important role in preventing this threat.”
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