PHOTOS: The American Jewish Committee (AJC) presented Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) with its 2011 Leadership Award last night for his work on anti-Semitism and other humanitarian issues at its 2011 Global Forum. “For 30 years, Chris Smith has been our friend, ally and a tireless advocate for human rights,” said Rabbi Andrew Baker, (Pictured right) AJC Director of International Jewish Affairs, who presented the award at the opening session of the AJC Global Forum. “As Co-Chair of the Helsinki Commission, Chris organized a hearing on Escalating Anti-Semitic Violence in Europe. It led to the first official conference on anti-Semitism ever mounted by an international governmental organization, the OSCE, in Vienna in 2003, and a year later a second conference in Berlin—this time with a declaration of fifty-five countries, acknowledging the problem and proposing steps to address it.”
“Whether it be strengthening support for Israel or Jews worldwide or confronting the Iranian threat or pushing reconciliation in Sudan, or opposing the hypocrisy of Syria’s all-to-serious bid to join the already discredited U.N. Human Rights Council, the American Jewish Committee has a record of unparalleled competence and accomplishment,” said Smith, co-chair of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Anti-Semitism Task Force and chairman of the House Human Rights Subcommittee. “So I am especially grateful to receive the AJC Congressional Award tonight from an organization that has made a huge, positive difference in the world.”
The Congressman is also Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission), and Executive Member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.
Over 1,000 participants from across the United States and 50 Jewish communities around the world gathered in Washington for the event. In an April 24 announcement the AJC noted Smith’s long history in addressing anti-Semitic policies.
“AJC’s annual Congressional Leadership Award will be presented this year to Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) for his indefatigable efforts to combat worldwide anti-Semitism, rescue Soviet Jewry in the 1980s, and defend human rights,” the AJC announcement stated.
Smith conducted a landmark 2002 hearing, “Escalating Anti-Semitic Violence in Europe,” and has made the issue a priority of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) agenda, which resulted in the OSCE adopting new norms in 2004 for its 56-member states on fighting anti-Semitism, and a series of high-level conferences on combating anti-Semitism.
Rep. Smith is the author of the provisions of the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004 that created the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism within the U.S. State Department. He recently introduced new legislation, the Combating Anti-Semitism Act of 2010, H.R. 6277, that would strengthen the office and require it to report more frequently and in greater detail on anti-Semitism around the world. TLS.