BERLIN — Western nations pledged Thursday to fight "new forms" of anti-Semitism, rejecting any attempt to use the strife in the Middle East as a justification for hate crimes against Jews.
Meeting in the city where the Nazis directed their campaign to annihilate Europe's Jews, governments of 55 countries unanimously adopted a declaration condemning "all attacks motivated by anti-Semitism or by any other forms of religious or racial hatred or intolerance, including attacks against synagogues and other religious places, sites and shrines."
Delegates and Jewish organizations welcomed the "Berlin Declaration" resulting from the two-day meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as a strong, timely denunciation of the recent surge of attacks on Jews in Europe and North America.
The declaration commits governments to collect and submit reliable information about anti-Semitic and other hate crimes. The OSCE -- formed during the Cold War -- includes the United States, Canada and countries across Europe.
Anti-Semitism, the declaration reads, "has assumed new forms and expressions, which along with other forms of intolerance pose a threat to democracy" and civilization.
The conference declared "unambiguously that international developments or political issues, including those in Israel or elsewhere in the Middle East, never justify anti-Semitism."
U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell addressed the conference Wednesday.