UN confronts anti-Semitism as a human rights problem with historic report

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Shaheed is the United Nations special rapid tour on freedom of religion in or belief last month he released a historic report to the UN General Assembly the first UN report of its kind to be wholly dedicated to Anti Semitism Doctor Shaheed is a consummate diplomat of former foreign minister of the Maldives and a lifelong human rights crusader he joins us now in studio to discuss his momentous report often thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with us before presenting a AJC's Jacob Blaustein Institute for Human Rights Later Today SA- pleasure to be here thank you let me now this is the first ever UN human rights report dedicated solely to Anti Semitism if I understand correctly you were appointed Special Rapporteur on free religion or belief and then you got to pick your topic so why did you pick antisemitism well you know when I began my work on this mandate three years ago I observed how disengaged engaged the UN was with the topic of Antisemitism we hadn't actually served energy at all and sometime I was observing oh how violent way attacks on the Jewish it's disproportionately high in terms of numbers and in the time I noticed this scene of huge optic in antisemitic incidents head crimes really is long overdue report just before we go any further we should probably help people understand a little what about what's in the report so can you share with us two or three of the of the top level findings of of your of your work well the first thing of course for me to dance right that that my mandate on freedom of belief should address this subject and I make a case for that than I look at the of my work because important to know how the report now look at the different forms in which antisemitism manifest itself in the past and today because it's evolving and changing phenomenon and then I looked chart trends what in terms of the incidents and the violent incidents as well that I look at the online dimension which is quite significant forum as as so to speak in terms of how manifested that look at St responses there's good practice that also bad practices then finally of course I make recommendations ends of the report is focused on the important to define antisemitism as a way to understand what the phenomenon is there for the the definition by the Hell costumers alliance is given a full coverage in the report along with concerns I'm have risen about it but I offer clear guidelines on how and burn it might be used to document and to raise awareness it Anti Semitism my other recommendations of course include are calling upon states to ensure they have proper laws in place to to address antisemitism to support victims if such a crimes and to use education as a very important tool to address this phenomenon and of course for the UN to play in a high they will and boy justice issue at at a global level you mentioned the International Holocaust remembrance alliances working definition of antisemitism this is a first from the UN ED recommend by your report for all states to adopt that definition what are the merits of that particular definition which AJC is proud to have helped author well what is important is that we should know what we're talking about what this definition does is give us titans on winter sport enter Semitism is not comprehensive because some aspects that the tunnel covered bite but nice talking point and also gives examples of when it might be anti Semitic so what I'm saying is the purpose of this definition was to monitor and to some indicate crimes and incidents and then it's a very good tool to raise awareness about when this happens but it's also going to be used as a non nego what I'm saying is if you use as a non legal educational rule to monitor document and respond krantz is a very useful tool and therefore states must ensure they use this for this in this in this fashion to make sure that they're prepared to understand and a splinter antisemitic hate crimes right as as an American organization J. C. where concerned at times when the report is used for kind of enforcement action ends because hate speeches is problematic but it's also problematic from the American perspective to cut down on on someone's freedom of expression so the working definition can sometimes CBS toe the line on some of those issues is that what you meant about the non legal educational perspective indeed I think which understand that expression is vital even to deal with antisemitism so whenever someone tries to censor speech one it's very careful that the lines are drawn not standards and that's time that is inciting violence discrimination and hostage against the else where that line is not crossed then of course we should use other means you must have caused denounced antisemitism and all that forms of recall I call on government leaders to respond to US such incidents by denouncing them but they want to criminalize speech than they should have very high threshold which follows international standards are on ensuring that they're on the criminal his speech that is inciting violence and discrimination against indio communities Jewish leaders have spoken to my mind convincingly about the what a in which Israel is kind of scene today as the Jew among the nation's right that a lot of the kind of mutating shifting anti Semitic perspectives that were anti Semitic Canard's tropes et cetera that were projected onto Jews in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century is are now projected onto Israel so Israel has become kind of a prime target for underlying anti Semitism cloaked in this kind of thin veil of political discourse that's something that the working definition helps to tackle I suspect I know your answer to this question but I'll ask that molest can criticism of Israel Anti Semitism well I think one has care for the new the definition by the customer so that alliance there said that example list which includes demonizing Israel can be antisemitic but tomato context assessment because context husband and they're very clear criticizing Israel like you would any other democratic state does not concern Semitism so there is enough scope in the definition to ensure that that both the use of Israel critism two separate entity trump's is defined as well as ensuring that these limits to criticize his actions as a government actor Ofman your report documents rising anti Semitic violence and hate speech around the world and identifies it as a threat to Jews but not only a threat to Jews is quote unquote toxic to democratic societies we talk a lot here at AJC about what we see as the three primary sources of antisemitism the far right the her laughed and certain radical segments of the Muslim community does that blueprint fit your findings yes I do point out that antisemitism comes in a variety of forms and almost all across the spectrum of politics society to the jets and other groups in society and and I give examples of how these two different perspectives are presented and What I of what I'm offering is a human rights based approach to this subject because such wide phenomenon and I point out that antisemitism is essentially about Jews it it is as a manifestation of dysfunctioning facilities it's about almost everybody else how the becomes in a four big have become intolerant how how how we are big attorney Harvey Racist so it's up it's a global phenomenon it causes everybody and you're right to point talk as a note that the into music sentiment and discordant messages coming from the far left there is a far right into the crimes pop up Edward quite frequently and also radical Muslims to do this and of course beyond this hate crimes are as widespread antisemitic prejudice across all societies and I note that in Muslim societies in some examples the days widespread prejudice amongst call those among students I know textbook switch convey antisemitic content as I do you got some political parties which period as champions of the left often when national altea national bodies like the UN talk about antisemitism they pair it with Islamaphobia Or with other forms of discrimination right you just talked about some hard left folks who define themselves constitutionally as anti-racism yet as we've seen with some of those examples some of those people who think of themselves as anti-racism Crusade others are in fact themselves occasionally perpetuating antisemitism so the result is that these bodies that will talk about antisemitism and Islam phobia or antisemitism and racism they very rarely have the opportunity to speak specifically about Antisemitism and in the meantime I'm as you note hatred of Jews and violent attacks on Jews have kept going up so why is it important to tackle anti Semitism as its own problem and not only as anti Semitism and first of all I think we should look intolerance in all its forms because they really a single phenomenon but antisemitism as you just said you know Z. oldest hatred and is often the canary in the coal mine of Autumn's of hatred has in the past see into that how how does it came communities I think the important thing is to look at something as widespread as antisemitism as something that's enough concerned too many communities of time as a good starting point to address offers hatred but beyond that every hatred requires a specified focus on its specificities we need to look at everything in a broad general framework but each each form of hatred requires a focus on its specificity so antisemitism given given it's it's it's you know Bite spread occurrence is almost endemic everywhere requires an urgent attention also because we have neglected and like I said I'm very concerned deeply concerned about the very violent forms in which these manifested often in societies which have very strongly role of traditions become into a week from the Pittsburgh one ear of week from Pittsburgh attack and six months later we had the poet attack in the phone and then just last week in Holland and Germany and throughout you find very violent forms off attacks on Jewish communities I think we have to focus on this subject and get to the bottom of it and find recipes and I would argue that if we can address antisemitism effectively than behind the tool to other forms of hatred as well You know I think we here at AJC certainly agree with that you know it's it's very important to us to fight all types of hatred and bigotry and at the same time we know that there is a time when it's entirely appropriate to speak about just antisemitism or just anti black racism I Islam phobia without kind of dragging other things into it as you mentioned ofmeat before we close I have to ask one question about the UN because a lot of our listeners American Jews in general are deeply skeptical of the United Nations now I know the UN does a lot consists of a lot there are a lot of different arms and bodies in committees and figures and special tours like yourself that fall under the UN umbrella but this is an organization that Jews are deeply suspicious of why the Jews today beat glad to see this report your report on antisemitism coming from an organization that they are so suspicious of well I'm not saying that we Ford is out I think he's a good starting point my attempt is to start working on this subject to let the UN also start focusing on this I call for a joined-up approach by different Duran bodies on this subject that many working on this UNESCO U. N. scientific educational body has just late last year a policy guide organization in dealing with any in schools the following up with another look this year on pedagogical aspects of pending antisemitism classrooms today you in bodies being on this I think it's important that the global reach of the UN is used to address this issue I think we should find ways to work together to address this issue I was going back to earlier point while I agree with you that we should all focus on specific elements of each type of a hatred what should avoid is what I call victim competition off that happening as well and I'm not saying it's happening here but we can all work together to address all forms of intolerance and if we are doing well on one we would necessarily between invasion others as well I certainly agree with you there I think our philosophy at AJC has long been that you know specifically in America but really around the world as well our patchwork of communities and societies can work to uplift one another rather than focusing on on who's been holding each other down op and thank you so much for taking the time to ns for your diligent work on this report for all the great work that I know is yet to come thank you it's been a pleasure to be on Avocado thank you

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