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Congressman Calls Passage of His Law ‘a Milestone’


Oct. 21, 2004 - Rep. Lantos discusses new law on VOA Russian program.

Washington, D.C., Oct. 21, 2004 – U.S. Representative Tom Lantos, sponsor of the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act, praised U.S. President George W. Bush’s recent signing of his bill while speaking with the Voice of America’s Russian Service in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

The Act will rate governments on the treatment of Jews in their countries, effectively giving them a State Department report card. The Congressman drafted the bill in response to an international surge in anti-Semitism.

“It is important for the United States, as the leading democracy, to keep tab on…anti-Semitic episodes,” said the California Democrat, a Holocaust survivor and ranking minority member of the House International Relations Committee. He called on the U.S. to “take whatever steps we can to fight anti-Semitism.”

Responding to a leaked State Department memorandum that suggested the Act was “favoritism,” Lantos said the new rating was not an issue of “favoring a group, but an issue of responding to a problem.” He cited “an up-surge of anti-Semitism which made this special legislation absolutely necessary.”

Asked about the importance of the review for Russia, Lantos called it “extremely important,” noting that there are still “significant segments of Russian society which have displayed anti-Semitic tendencies.” He called on the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to “take appropriate action.”

VOA broadcasts three hours of radio a day in Russian as well as a weekly television magazine, Window on the World. Broadcasts are also streamed on their website, www.VOANews.com/Russian.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in Russian and 43 other languages.

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