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?It is not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel, but the line is crossed when Israel or its leaders are demonized or vilified, for example, by the use of Nazi symbols and racist caricatures,? US Secretary of State Colin Powell said at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) conference on anti-Semitism.

?Political disagreements do not justify physical assaults against Jews in our streets, the destruction of Jewish schools, or the desecration of synagogues and cemeteries.?

German President Johannes Rau said ?massive anti-Semitism? is behind much of the opposition to Israeli policy.

While many of the leaders vowed that Europe would never again remain silent in the face of anti-Semitism, they avoided linking the conflict in the Middle East and that with the growing Muslim population in Europe. And many of OSCE's 55 states, argued whether hatred of Israel could be labeled anti-Semitic.

Israeli and Jewish leaders said a clause included in the conference's statement saying that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not be a cover for anti-Semitic positions and opinions as a significant step, but said the failure to acknowledge anti-Semitism in attacks against Israel was disheartening.

Europe has experienced a rise in attacks on Jews that has coincided with an escalation in Middle East violence since the start of the intifada in 2000.

Meanwhile, a survey by the Anti-Defamation League released ahead of the conference, shows that during the past two years, there has been a decline in support for anti-Semitic views in Western Europe, while support for Israel has simultaneously eroded.

According to the survey, the number of respondents who blamed Israel for the eruption of violence in the Middle East doubled the number who blamed the Palestinians.

The survey was conducted in 10 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom).

In the UK, 24 percent held anti-Semitic views compared to 18 percent in 2002, the survey shows. In, Germany, the number was 36 compared to 37 percent in 2002 and in France, the 2004 figure was 25 percent, down from 35 percent two years ago.

ADL National Director Abraham Foxman warned that media outlets and governments in Europe display a one-sided attitude toward Israel, which stimulates anti-Israel feelings.

"These findings reflect a bias against Israel in Europe among government and media," Foxman said. "These attitudes not only create an atmosphere that is unfriendly to Israel but also makes it more difficult for Europe to play a role in the peace process." 


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