American Jewish Committee (AJC) is praising a new UN report on antisemitism prepared by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed. It is the first time in the history of the world body that a UN human rights expert’s report has dealt exclusively with antisemitism.

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

The full report, posted on the Special Rapporteur’s website today, will be presented by Dr. Shaheed to the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee on October 17.

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

Most importantly, the report recommends that all UN member states adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism. The working definition, adopted to date by 18 countries, is a clear and compact description of antisemitism in its various forms, including Holocaust denial, prejudices against Jews, and the denial of Israel’s right to exist. The full text of the IHRA definition is included in the Special Rapporteur’s report.

“The Special Rapporteur recognizes that the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism can offer valuable guidance for identifying antisemitism 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 antisemitism,” states the report.

The report treats antisemitism as a global phenomenon, not one largely confined to the U.S. and Europe, as has been the case in many previous UN reports. And the Special Rapporteur recognizes that the sources of antisemitism are varied, coming from the far right, from members of radical Islamist groups, and from the political left.

In addition to adopting the working definition, the Special Rapporteur’s key recommendations are:

  • Acknowledge the threat to stability and security posed by antisemitism;
  • Identify, document, and prohibit the commission of antisemitic hate crimes; 
  • Enhance government outreach to Jewish communities;
  • Protect individuals at risk of violence;
  • Take actions in the areas of education and awareness-raising aimed at curbing the spread of antisemitic views.

AJC’s JBI convened earlier this year an expert consultation on antisemitism in the United States that informed the Special Rapporteur’s report.

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