UN Hosts Session on Antisemitism at General Assembly

Jews - A man walks by graves vandalised with swastikas at the Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim, on February 19, 2019, on the day of a nationwide marches against a rise in anti-Semitic attacks. - Around 80 graves have been vandalised at the Jewish cemetery in the village of Quatzenheim, close …
FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty

TEL AVIV – The United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday held an informal session on combating antisemitism and other forms of racism and hate.

Israel’s envoy to the UN Danny Danon spearheaded the session, the Israeli UN mission said in a statement, to “declare war on antisemitism.”

Danon called for additional measures to be implemented at the international body, including the appointment of a UN envoy tasked with combating antisemitism, compiling an annual report on the phenomenon around the world and adding the elimination of antisemitism to the UN’s sustainable development goals.

More than 90 countries participated in the event including Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and Iran. Representatives from Jewish and pro-Israel organizations were also in attendance, as was the EU Commission Coordinator for combating antisemitism, Katharina von Schnurbein.

Also present were victims of antisemitic hate crimes, including Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was injured in the Poway shooting attack in San Diego. He was joined by the daughter and sister of Lori Gilbert Kaye, who was killed in the attack.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the session by citing a recent study from Tel Aviv University that showed that the total number of antisemitic physical assaults rose 13 percent in 2018.

“We must tackle the tsunami of hatred that is so visible and violent across the world today. I guarantee you that I will continue to call out antisemitic racism and other forms of hatred loudly and unapologetically,” he said.

“In the United States, Europe and elsewhere, attacks on synagogues, graveyards and individuals continue to make many Jews feel insecure,” Guterres added. “This age-old hatred is showing grim staying power.”

Danon said, “The world’s approach to eradicating antisemitism must be like that of modern warfare. It must attack on multiple fronts.”

Rabbi Goldstein pointed to the increasing number of places around the world where Jews feel unsafe.

“In far too many places around the world Jews are becoming more vulnerable,” he said. “They are paying a shockingly high price to keep themselves safe.”

Von Schnurbein said in a speech: “Antisemitism is not just a European problem and the EU is determined to fight it beyond its borders together with its partners.”

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