WASHINGTON – Ninety-nine senators expressed concern Friday over anti-Semitism in Europe and in the Arab media and urged President Bush to address the issue.
"As a democratic nation based on the freedom of religion for all people," they wrote in a letter to Bush, "it is imperative that the United States condemn anti-Semitic actions and rhetoric wherever they may be found."
The letter outlined recent physical and verbal attacks on Jews in France, Germany and Belgium and anti-Jewish statements by parts of the media in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Palestinian territories.
The only senator not signing the letter was Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., who underwent open-heart surgery Thursday, when the letter was circulated.
Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John Warner, R-Va., said at a news conference that they would seek a meeting with Bush to discuss the issue when he returns from Texas next week.
"The ugly face of anti-Semitism is appearing with greater frequency in many parts of the world," said Levin. He said the trend began several years ago, and the letter points to incidents that predate the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He said it is important the United States not remain silent. "There should be consequences where we have leverage," he said.
A number of bills relating to U.S. policy in the Mideast have recently surfaced in Congress, but congressional leaders have been cautious about bringing those measures to a vote. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, agreed Friday at Bush's request to delay House consideration of a resolution expressing support for Israel.
"We have every right to express ourselves as an independent branch of government, but the coordination of this policy has to be left with the president," Warner said.
The senators' letter says that between Nov. 9, 2000, and Nov. 20, 2001, there were more than 330 "anti-Semitic acts" in Paris, and Molotov cocktails were thrown at a synagogue last month in Brussels.
The letter also cited claims in the Arab media that the blood of non-Jews was used in cooking Jewish holiday pastries, implicating Jews in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, and incitement to: "Fight (Jews), wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them."