UN releases ‘unprecedented’ report on anti-Semitism
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UN releases ‘unprecedented’ report on anti-Semitism

Two Pittsburgh leaders' voices were included in the report

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Israeli, Jewish and pro-Israel groups all applauded the publication of an ‘unprecedented’ United Nations report on anti-Semitism.

“This report marks one of the first times the U.N. has addressed the issue of anti-Semitism in any detail,” said Anne Herzberg, legal advisor and U.N. liaison at NGO Monitor. “The Special Rapporteur condemned the use of anti-Semitic tropes and denial of Israel’s right to exist.”

The report, “Combating Antisemitism to Eliminate Discrimination and Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief,” which was released by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Ahmed Shaheed, defines anti-Semitism as a global phenomenon — not one largely confined to the United States and Europe. The Special Rapporteur recognizes that the sources of anti-Semitism are varied, coming from the far right, from members of radical Islamist groups and from the political left.

Two local experts were interviewed for the report, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh President and CEO Jeff Finkelstein and Rabbi Seth Adelson of Congregation Beth Shalom.

According to Adelson, he and Finkelstein provided input in April to the American Jewish Committee’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights in New York, which gathered information from American Jews for the report.

“I spoke about what is the state of Jewish Pittsburgh as a result of the shooting? How did it affect the lives of Jews in Pittsburgh? I spoke about that based on what I’ve seen as a rabbi in the community.”

Adelson said that while there were “people there more qualified to discuss the subject that had hard numbers and statistics … I was there to speak about the human element.”

The report identifies violence, discrimination and expressions of hostility motivated by Jew-hatred as a serious obstacle to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief. It expresses “serious concern that the frequency of anti-Semitic incidents appears to be increasing in magnitude and that the prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes and the risk of violence against Jewish individuals and sites appears to be significant, including in countries with little or no Jewish population.”

The report recommends that all U.N. member states adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of anti-Semitism. So far, 18 of them have done so.

“The Special Rapporteur recognizes that the IHRA Working Definition of Anti-Semitism can offer valuable guidance for identifying anti-Semitism in its various forms, and therefore encourages states to adopt it for use in education, awareness-raising and for monitoring and responding to manifestations of anti-Semitism,” states the report.

Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Danny Danon, commented that “we welcome the release of this unprecedented report on the subject of anti-Semitism. The report reflects the organizational change towards Israel. As I have said many times, anti-Semitism has no place in our society, and must be denounced everywhere and from every platform.”

“Thanks to Ahmed Shaheed’s methodical and determined leadership, the U.N. finally is recognizing the severity of this ages-old hatred against Jews, and offering constructive guidance to member states on how to combat anti-Semitism effectively in their own countries and globally,” said Felice Gaer, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights.

The World Jewish Congress also applauded the report’s release.

“We hope that this report serves as an eye-opener to the United Nations and its member states and that they finally take concrete action to stem the surge of anti-Semitism across the globe,” said World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder. “We are grateful to have been able to take part in the facilitation of this research to ensure that the very real concerns facing our communities on a daily basis were not only taken into consideration, but also addressed as areas deserving of serious and direct attention.” PJC

Additional reporting by David Rullo.

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