US anti-Semitism envoy slams UN ‘double standards’ on Israel

Administration to re-engage with HRC in order to "pressure it to fulfill mandate."

March 7, 2010 23:07
3 minute read.
Anti-Semitism on British soil - A swastika cut int

anti-semitic grass 311. (photo credit: .)


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LONDON – The US has decided to reengage with the UN’s Human Rights Council in order to pressure the body to fulfill its mandate, President Barak Obama’s special envoy on anti-Semitism told a London audience.

Hannah Rosenthal, who heads the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, was speaking at the Community Security Trust (CST) annual dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London on Thursday night.

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She told guests, including MPs, diplomats, policy advisors and community leaders, that the American administration “felt it important for the US to deploy our stature and moral authority to strengthen [human rights] and hold violators accountable,” adding that it will pressure the council to fulfill its mandate, and would challenge it when necessary.

“We will assertively exercise our presence on the council, pressing it to live up to its mandate to address human rights violations and make recommendations including, and we will stress, anti-Semitism. We will support what they do well but also challenge those aspects of its work that we think call for fundamental change,” she said.

Rosenthal heaped praise on the “crucial” work of CST, the community charity that provides security to synagogues, schools, communal organizations and events, and represents the Jewish community on a wide range of police, governmental and policy-making bodies dealing with security and anti-Semitism. She said that when the unit she heads produces Congress-mandated reports on the UK, it relies on CST for their comprehensive data and information.

“I want to applaud your work, not only in protecting members of the Jewish community in the UK but sharing your best practices with other groups, working with other members of vulnerable communities that have been or could be targets also,” she said. “You’ve organized the community, you’ve stood up for what’s right, you’ve educated others and you’ve promoted tolerance.”

CST is the only organization in the UK that collects, analyzes and publishes statistics and incidents relating to anti-Semitism. It publishes an annual Anti-Semitic Incidents Report. The 2009 report, published in February, showed a record high number of incidents in one year since records began in 1984.

Rosenthal also spoke about the use of double standards, which she said often implicate Israel and cross into anti-Semitism.

“Anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment often overlap. It is important to note that criticism of Israel is not necessarily anti-Semitic, but it crosses the line when that criticism applies a double standard comparing the current policy of Israel to that of the Nazis, [or] holding all Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the sovereign state of Israel,” she said.

The special envoy was scathing of the UN, questioning its seeming double standards.

“Looking at UN statistics over the last six years, where there have been negative remarks against a country, 170 have been against Israel. Compare that to North Korea that had eight... Israel has had 50 resolutions condemning alleged human rights abuses. Compare that to the Sudan which has had five. Clearly Israel is being held to a different standard and that means it has crossed the line from anti-Israel policy to profound anti-Semitism,” she said to enthusiastic applause.

“We will continue to see that Israel is treated fairly at the UN and in other international bodies,” Rosenthal said.

Speaking also at the dinner, Deputy Commissioner Tim Godwin – chief operating officer of the London Metropolitan Police, the second most powerful position in British policing – emphasized the importance and strength of the relationship between UK police and CST.

“I am very proud to be here to celebrate what is a very effective and strong partnership we have with CST, forged over many years working together both in the prevention and response to anti-Semitism,” he said.

The deputy commissioner said that the effective response to the backlash to the Gaza conflict in London last year, which saw often violent protests and anti-Semitic incidents soar, was in part a result of working with CST.

Godwin affirmed the police’s commitment to protecting the Jewish community and fighting anti-Semitism.

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