April 17, 2019 — New York
AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI) has convened an expert consultation on the topic of antisemitism in the United States together with Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. Dr. Shaheed had requested the input as he is preparing to deliver a thematic report on antisemitism to the UN General Assembly later this year.
Dr. Shaheed emphasized that in the 30 years of existence of a UN mandate on religious freedom, his report will be the first about global antisemitism. The consultation, which took place at AJC headquarters, near the UN, was Dr. Shaheed’s first meeting focused on combatting antisemitism in the United States. After the two-day meeting Dr. Shaheed said that tackling hatred is one of the biggest challenges of our time and he called antisemitism one of the first harbingers of other intolerance.
JBI’s consultation brought together historians, scholars, monitors of antisemitism and hate crimes, local law enforcement representatives, and members of the Jewish community who had been personally impacted by incidents of antisemitism, including the fatal attack on three congregations inside the Tree of Life building in Pittsburgh last October.
Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, author of “Antisemitism: Here and Now,” and Rabbi Andrew Baker, Representative on Antisemitism for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), were among the 25 experts participating in the consultation with Dr. Shaheed. They provided input into the dimensions and context of antisemitism in the U. S. and impact on American Jews.
Participants shared methodological strategies they employ, different tools for assessing data, as well as specific cases and incidents and the ways that local, state, and federal authorities respond. JBI Director Felice Gaer reflected on how to address antisemitism within a traditional human rights framework that could be addressed in a UN context. Shaheed urged the participants to keep in touch with him to share further information and provide contacts for others who may have data for his upcoming report.
“This consultations part of a larger effort to ensure that UN human rights mechanisms address the rising pattern of antisemitic incidents globally,” said JBI Director Felice Gaer. In expressing a desire to address antisemitism as a human rights issue in his role as UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Dr. Shaheed is taking on one of the major problems we are seeing in the world today.” The JBI hosted consultation is one of several Dr. Shaheed will conduct with experts in different parts of the world.
Dr. Shaheed, whose renewable three-year term as Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief began in November 2016, reports annually to the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council, undertakes in-country missions, and sends communications to governments concerning cases that represent possible violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief. He is the Deputy Director of the Essex Human Rights Centre in the United Kingdom and previously served as UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran and as Foreign Minister of the Maldives.
Founded in 1971, AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights aims to strengthen international human rights institutions and non-governmental advocacy in defence of human rights in order to prevent abuses and protect human rights worldwide.