October 20, 2020 — New York
A new report by AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI) finds that global antisemitism remains troublingly persistent and continues to threaten the safety and security of Jews around the world. It concludes that, despite some recent efforts to address the scourge, global antisemitism poses a serious human rights challenge.
The JBI report, One Year Later: The Historic United Nations Report on Antisemitism as a Human Rights Concern, surveys the landscape of global antisemitism during the 12-month period following the presentation by Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, of his historic report on antisemitism as a human rights concern to the UN General Assembly in October 2019.
“Dr. Shaheed’s warning to UN diplomats about the threat of rising antisemitism was all too prescient,” said Felice D. Gaer, Director of AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute. “The past year was bookended by violent attacks on Jews – from the gunman targeting worshipers at the Halle synagogue in October 2019, to the violent attack outside a Hamburg synagogue in October 2020 – with dozens of shocking antisemitic attacks on Jews and Jewish sites reported in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere.”
The JBI report identifies places where reported antisemitic hate crimes increased, and catalogues troubling attacks on Jews and Jewish religious and cultural sites over the past year. It tracks the alarming proliferation of antisemitic expression online, including the spread of conspiracy theories blaming Jews for the COVID-19 pandemic and other drivers of rising social tensions in many countries. Shaheed was the first international figure to raise the alarm about this phenomenon and about several incidents documented in the JBI report in which online hatred apparently fueled real-world abuses targeting Jews, including attempted mass violence.
The JBI report also details an array of efforts that governments have taken to combat antisemitism since the publication of Shaheed’s report. Several governments have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, recommended by Shaheed for use by all stakeholders as an important source of guidance on how to recognize the many ways in which antisemitism can manifest.
Governments also have appointed senior officials to spearhead efforts to combat antisemitism. In addition, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed a senior official to monitor the UN’s response to antisemitism, as Shaheed recommended last year. Several leading social media platforms also have taken some measures to adapt their terms of service and to remove or counter the spread of antisemitic hate speech, though antisemitic content remains prevalent on many sites.
Although these actions have been positive, they are insufficient to curb the trend of rising antisemitism that so alarmed Shaheed. JBI makes detailed recommendations to governments, social media companies, the UN, and others for further actions, consistent with thoughtful suggestions made by Dr. Shaheed during a September 23 AJC Advocacy Anywhere program.