Sat, Jan 24, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Muslim voices join calls at UN meeting for world to stand up to anti-Semitism

AP, UNITED NATIONS

The first UN General Assembly meeting on anti-Semitism on Thursday sparked calls for global action to combat rising hatred against Jews and a surprising denunciation from the world’s 57 Islamic nations of all words and acts that lead “to hatred, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia.”

US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said the statement, delivered by Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the UN Abdallah al-Moualimi, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, was “extremely significant,” especially since the UN has often been a venue for attempts to de-legitimize Israel.

The assembly met at the request of 37 mainly Western countries including the US who urged the UN 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.

However, 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,” the 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 Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said 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.

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.”

Dozens of speakers echoed his call to address the root causes of anti-Semitism.

Al-Moualimi said Muslim nations have witnessed “with growing concern the increase in hate crimes around the world” and “condemn in strong terms any discrimination based on belief and religious practices in all its forms.”

He also emphasized the links between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

He said Israel’s actions, political crises, economic recession and policies that protect powerful nations are “very closely linked to the increase in hate crimes, extremism, and violence and anti-Semitism.”

Power responded that while the US accepts criticism of policies it rejects “anything that would suggest that there is a justification for anti-Semitism.”

Because of Germany’s historic role in the Holocaust, German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth said his country would always be in the forefront of fighting anti-Semitism and pursuing “a zero-tolerance policy.”

French Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Desire urged the world to act “with the utmost firmness, wherever anti-Semitism rears its head in the world,” adding that “without the Jews of Europe, Europe would no longer be Europe.”

Roth and Desire called for a new EU legal framework to address the diffusion of racist and anti-Semitic speeches and material.

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