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March 15, 2021 6:31 pm

Antisemitism is ‘Global Problem,’ Says UN Official in Virtual Conference on Fighting Anti-Jewish Hatred

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

UN High-Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations Miguel Moratinos. Photo: Screenshot

A leading United Nations official called for greater international recognition of antisemitism and more focus on the role of social media in the spread of online hate, during a virtual conference hosted Monday.

“The majority of anti-Semitic attacks have taken place in Europe or the US, but our outreach efforts should extend beyond those regions to Africa, Asia and Latin America,” said Miguel Moratinos, the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) at the Monday conference, Exploring Holistic Approaches to Combating Antisemitism.

Moratinos said that there is an “unanimous concern about social media” and that although there had been some progress, social media companies needed to do more to counter hate speech and develop tools on antisemitic terminology.

He also said that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted by governments around the world, “may serve as guidance for preventive policies including law enforcement and education.”

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“It is critical to exercise due diligence to ensure that freedom of expression is protected,” he continued. “At the same time it is equally important that any criticism directed towards the government of Israel is not used as an incitement towards Jews or sacred Jewish sites.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Moratinos in February 2020, to serve as the UN focal point for monitoring antisemitism and improving a system-wide response.

Speakers and participants at the conference included Rabbi Arthur Schneier, who is a UNAOC goodwill ambassador; Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Katharina Von Schnurbein, Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life at the European Commission; Lord Eric Pickles, the UK’s Special Envoy for Post Holocaust Issues; and Irwin Cotler, Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.

“Antisemitism is a shared problem. Social media have to act responsibly,” said Dr. Robert Williams, Deputy Director of International Affairs at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Antisemitism is worse now than at any point since 1948. So the time to act is now before it is too late and we must do it together.”

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