U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and her counterparts from Canada, Israel and the European Union will host a day-long High Level Forum on Global Anti-Semitism on September 7th at the U.N. The gathering builds on last year’s first-ever U.N General Assembly session on anti-Semitism in January, 2015, and brings together officials, community leaders and business leaders to make concrete recommendations to U.N. Member countries on how to more effectively counter anti-Semitism.
Part 1, including 12 noon session
ADL experts will address the forum and make recommendations in areas like combatting online anti-Semitic harassment and the need for broad, diverse coalitions to advocate for countermeasures.
It is important for political leaders to consistently condemn and marginalize anti-Semitism in the U.N. But the true success of these efforts can best be measured by the number of countries that act on and implement the recommendations made.
The U.N. has been a source of mixed feelings for the Jewish community. Although the struggle against the persecution of Jews was a touchstone for the creation of the U.N. and some of its foundational human rights instruments and treaties, it became a forum where efforts to address anti-Semitism or even Holocaust remembrance met with resistance. The over 15 years when the infamous “Zionism is Racism” resolution was on the books was further alienating. Even as anti-Semitism flared, persistent efforts to sideline and dismiss the danger or evident existence of anti-Semitism by blocs of countries like the Soviet Union and later the Organization of the Islamic Conference kept the issue off the U.N. agenda.
It was only in 2004 that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan addressed an event on anti-Semitism and educational efforts to combat it. Incrementally and with robust U.S. leadership, the U.N. has begun to address anti-Semitism as part of its human rights agenda.
There is no one forum or approach to magically eradicate anti-Semitism and bigotry. Even in countries where the arsenal of tools is very robust, anti-Semitic attitudes and incidents can still be prevalent. Governments and civil society have to collaborate to demand action now and for the long haul.
While it’s important and notable that this high-level forum on anti-Semitism is being held at the U.N., challenges remain with the U.N.’s attitude towards this and related issues, including the body’s treatment of Israel. Hopefully this event will resonate with U.N. member states and lead to positive change.