Rabbi Goldstein, Secretary General Guterres, Ambassador Danon, and Hannah Kaye and Rnadi Grossman (the daughter and sister of Lori Gilbert Kaye, respectively).
(photo credit: ISRAEL MISSION TO THE UN)
WASHINGTON – It is time “to tackle the tsunami of hatred that is so visible and violence across the world today,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday, at a special discussion by the UN General Assembly on the growing threat of antisemitism.
The discussion was organized by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon.
“White supremacists and neo-Nazis are emboldened by elections showing an appeal of racist messages,” said Guterres. “One week ago, I launched the UN system-wide strategy to combat hate speech.”
Guterres said that “hatred left unopposed” can damage democratic values, social stability, and peace.
“We need to treat hate speeches as we treat every malicious act, by condemning it and refusing to amplify it,” he said. “That does not mean limiting freedom of speech. It means keeping hate speech from escalating into something more dangerous. Our efforts need to step up most urgently in the digital space where hatred is thriving. Social media provides a conduit for hatred on an enormous scale with virtually no cost and no accountability... used to polarize societies and demonize people often targeting women, minorities, and the most vulnerable.”
Delegates from 90 different countries attended the event, as well as hundreds from the Jewish community in the US.
Calling on the world to declare war on antisemitism, Danon said “the sounds we heard at Pittsburgh and Poway do not allow us to act with restraint. The world’s approach to eradicating antisemitism must be like that of modern warfare. It must attack multiple fronts.”
The Israeli ambassador stressed the need to implement a series of steps to eradicate antisemitism, including the use of a special envoy to fight antisemitism on behalf of the UN, and promoting an active policy for monitoring and removing antisemitic content on the Internet.
Moreover, Danon said, countries must implement legislation to educate their population on identifying antisemitism. “Leaders of the world – all the allies of the Jewish people – will take that pledge today, and every day, to fight the war on antisemitism until antisemitism is gone.”
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Chabad of Poway, who was shot at his synagogue two months ago by a white supremacist, told the crowd that the fight against antisemitism is a fight for the future of the civilization.
“Lori Kay did not deserve to die because she came to the synagogue to pray,” he said. “She was a wonderful and kind person. The reason why she died was because she was a Jew. The reason why I got shot was because I was a Jew. When you look at me now, you see a man with a black hat and a black jacket. The first thing that comes to your mind is that it looks like a Jew. But you know what? I look just like you. I am a human being. We are all human beings.
“Antisemitism is not a Jewish problem,” he added. “This is a problem for the world... antisemitism has been the longest, the most harmful, not just for the Jewish people, but for the world.”
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