NEW YORK, March 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Jason Isaacson, American Jewish Committee (AJC) Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer, today called for all UN member states to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.
“To combat antisemitism, those in positions of authority – whether in the classroom, or in law enforcement, or in a sports club – must be able to identify it,” said Isaacson, addressing the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) conference on “Exploring Holistic Approaches to Combating Antisemitism.”
“They must be able to see the danger in a willfully, or even casually, hateful remark. And in this era, when antisemitism is too often camouflaged in rhetoric that derides or negates the legitimacy of Israel, they must be able to separate criticism, which is fair game, from prejudice, which is unacceptable,” he said.
The IHRA Working Definition “performs that function precisely,” said Isaacson. “There is no need to revise or renegotiate the definition, which has been embraced by dozens of national governments and numerous other public and private entities.”
The UNAOC conference was hosted by UN Under-secretary-general Miguel Moratinos, who is the “focal point” for the UN on monitoring and combatting antisemitism. Isaacson expressed hope that within the UN itself Moratinos’s leadership “will bring about greater awareness at the staff level of the nature and danger of antisemitism – awareness that will be facilitated by the working definition.”
Isaacson said the fight against antisemitism “requires credible, consistent leadership, and the commitment, discipline, and resources to formulate and implement a comprehensive strategy to carry it out.”
The working definition has been fully endorsed by Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and by dozens of national governments – including in recent weeks by the Biden administration – as well as by transnational bodies, local governments, and a variety of other institutions.
Adopting the working definition for educational and training purposes is especially important for UN member states to counter the prevalence, noted by UN Secretary-General Guterres, of “attempts to delegitimize the right of Israel to exist, including calls for its destruction, using the pretext of the situation in the Middle East to target Jews and Jewish symbols.”
While antisemitism often is described as “the oldest hatred,” it is by no means the only one in the world. “Our commitment to combating antisemitism is, and must be, matched by our commitment to exposing, confronting, and countering bigotry of every form,” said Isaacson.
Rabbi Andrew Baker, AJC Director of International Jewish Affairs, also addressed the UNAOC conference. He noted AJC’s relationship with Moratinos dates to when he served as Spain’s foreign minister, 2004-10, and led efforts within the OSCE to confront antisemitism.
“Antisemitism is a unique phenomenon and not merely a subset of intolerance and discrimination. Without understanding this and without the necessary tools to recognize it, we cannot defeat it,” said Baker, who also serves as the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Combating Anti-Semitism.
“The methods required to direct and inform governments, to train law enforcement, to collect hate crime data, to draft curricula, and to engage civil society must be broad in scope. Empowering governments to take these steps, sharing best practices and reminding them of their commitments will ensure the protection of all minorities,” said Baker.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee