On January 22nd, 2015, ICJW representatives attended a an historic special session was held: the first ever UN General Assembly special session on the rise of anti-Semitism at the UN Headquarters in New York.
As you are well aware, in recent months
there has been an alarming outbreak in anti-Semitic violence around the world.
Life for Jews worldwide has become increasingly dangerous and many are afraid
of what the future has in store. Israel, with the support of many other
countries, has been working to bring this alarming issue to the forefront of
the international arena at the United Nations.
The goal of the day was to begin an
in-depth dialogue on how to combat the scourge of anti-Semitism and to hear
initiatives that are in place in many countries. This event was hosted by the
president of the GA, H.E. Mr. Sam Kahambra Kutesa of Uganda.
The morning four hour marathon session
included messages from Mr. Kutesa and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. A
brilliant keynote address was given by Bernard-Henri Levy, French intellectual,
philosopher and writer followed by statements from over 60 member states.
The afternoon session was a panel
discussion moderated by the vice president of the GA. Five prominent experts on
anti-Semitism and human rights were on the panel which was followed by a
discussion from the floor.
Levy called the current rallying cry of
anti-Semitism a new order. Or, he asked, is it an old nightmare in new terms?
The UN was created to stop this infection but the hatred of “the other” is
still with us. In France, it is true that radical Islam is a factor but if you
add French history of the Dreyfus affair and the Vichy government, the situation
The State of Israel is only an excuse. The word Jew is a synonym
for the devil. If Israel was exemplary and there was a Palestinian state, alas,
the old hatred would not have dissipated.
Mr. Levy said that old clichés must
be abandoned, i.e. we hate the Jews because they killed Christ or the
Enlightenment claim that the Jews invented Christ or the Jews are out to rule
The new arguments of anti-Semitism are: the
Jews are detestable because they support the evil state of Israel; they are
detestable because they exaggerate their suffering during the Holocaust; they
are competing with the Palestinians on victimhood. All Jews become targets when
these three vital components are combined.
The march in Paris after the recent
terrorist attacks was a message of hope. Today’s UN session can provide the
momentum to act. Anti-Semitism is the Mother of All Hates and MUST be
recognized and fought.
BY MEMBER STATES
It was an encouraging and positive sign
that so many countries were eager to participate in today’s dialogue. Taking
into account the present atmosphere at the United Nations, the representatives were
forthright with their comments and convictions.
They spoke out against anti-Semitism and
reported on how their respective governments are dealing with this ongoing and
renewed crisis. Most countries contributed significant and salient points of
information. In the interest of time, we
have singled out the following whose comments should be heard: France, the US, Canada, Great Britain, Spain,
Austria, Australia, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Greece, Germany, Israel,
Albania, Poland, Hungary and Panama.
The following are some of their thoughts on
years, we would like to say anti-Semitism has been eradicated but it hasn’t,
recent attacks in France
and Belgium where people were targeted simply because they were Jewish
there is an attack on a Jew, it is an attack on humanity
A new wave
of anti-Semitism is surfacing all over the world
not only Jews but society on a whole
no room for anti-Semitism, not in France, Germany or any country in the world
be zero tolerance for anti-Semitism, intolerance and discrimination in any form
are witnessing a phenomenon – that this program is happening in the General
Assembly to show a commitment to fighting anti-Semitism
countries are doing everything in their power to bring perpetrators of
terrorism to justice
In the US,
2/3 of hate crimes are targeted against Jews
anti-Semitism is creating a shadow all over Europe
can be found in the halls of the United Nations, even in this General Assembly
where Israel has been accused of behaving like Nazis. Jews will never again be
helpless. Israel will never be silent
believe they are doing God’s work by killing Jews and all minorities
turn words into actions, we cannot disregard attacks of anti-Semitism. The
European community acted quickly after the attacks at Charlie Hebdo, the Jewish
super market and museum in Brussels
common agreement that discrimination and violence against anyone cannot be tolerated
attacks in Europe are a painful reminder of how far we still have to go
United Kingdom in July and August alone, there were 543 anti-Semitic
incidents-more than the whole of all of 2013
need commemorative statues of the Holocaust, we need to protect the living;
OIS/Saudi representative said terror attacks are not justified by his religion;
new female Ambassador to the UN has fought anti-Semitism for 25 years and will
continue to do so.
INITIATIVES TO COMBAT ANTI-SEMITISM
Many countries have set in
place programs to educate their citizens, train their students, hold Holocaust
commemorations, implement zero tolerance on discrimination, create permanent
memorials, dialogue with other countries, support inter-faith dialogues,
implement legislation to punish those guilty of hate crimes, enforce their
laws, reform criminal codes, establish educational programs for classroom
students and out-reach programs which support freedom of religion, pay tribute
to all victims and listen to and learn from the remaining survivors. Some
specific initiatives are:
are occurring in many countries to foster common values and educate on
Conference is set for this coming fall on anti-Semitism and racism;
countries spoke of newly appointed Ministers to monitor anti-Semitism and
has been created to investigate and prosecute hate crimes;
be done to draft and implement legislation on hate speech especially online
learning activities and education programs are exemplary;
appointed a special rapporteur to combat anti-Semitism and created legislation
for Sephardic Jews to claim Spanish citizenship;
England funds two kids from every secondary school in England to go to
We leave you with the opinion of Ambassador Ron
Prosor of Israel, “From the halls of the UN to the world, stand up and be heard!”
Let us hope the world takes note.
Reported by Madeleine Brecher and Fran Butensky