United Nations, Jan 23: The first UN General Assembly meeting on anti-Semitism has sparked calls for global action to combat the rising hatred of Jews and a surprising denunciation from the world's 57 Islamic nations of all words and acts that lead "to hatred, anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia."
US Ambassador Samantha Power yesterday said the statement delivered by Saudi Arabia's UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Moualimi on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation was "extremely significant," especially since the United Nations has often been a venue to try to de-legitimize Israel. The assembly met at the request of 37 mainly Western countries including the United States who urged the world body to address the "alarming outbreak of anti-Semitism worldwide."
It was an informal meeting, attended by about half the 193 member states, so no resolution could be adopted. But 40 mainly Western countries issued a joint statement afterward urging all nations to "declare their categorical rejection of anti-Semitism," strengthen laws to combat discrimination, and prosecute those responsible for anti-Semitic crimes.
"The determination to eradicate the conditions that gave rise to the Holocaust was a guiding principle among the founders of this organization over six decades ago," their statement said.
"Let us rededicate ourselves to that principle and endeavor to eliminate anti-Semitism in all forms." The letter requesting the meeting was sent last October, months before the recent attack at a Kosher supermarket in Paris that killed four Jews. It followed last May's shooting that killed three people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels and the 2012 murder of a rabbi and three children in the French city of Toulouse. Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor recalled that after the Holocaust "the world pledged 'never again,' but here we are again."
"Violent anti-Semitism is casting a shadow over Europe," he said. "Last summer, anti-Israel demonstrations in Paris turned into violent riots, graffiti reading 'Jews your end is near' was scrawled on the walls of Rome, Jews were banned from stores in Belgium, an angry mob beat an elderly Jewish man in Hamburg, and firebombs were thrown at Jewish homes in Amsterdam and Berlin." In the keynote speech, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy said blaming Jews "is once again becoming the rallying cry of a new order of assassins." Levy, who is Jewish, called for new arguments to counter anti-Semites who say "Jews are detestable."