Diplomacy

UN Chief Guterres: “We Must Rise Up against Rising anti-Semitism”

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday that hatred of Jews is growing around the world, as he warned, “We must rise up against rising anti-Semitism,” The Times of Israel reported.

“Inevitably, where there is anti-Semitism, no one else is safe,” Guterres said during the UN’s annual commemoration service to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. “It is necessary – more and more – that we sound an alarm,” he noted.

“Intolerance today spreads at lightning speed across the internet and social media,” Guterres charged. “Perhaps most disturbingly, hate is moving into the mainstream — in liberal democracies and authoritarian systems alike.”

The UN chief cited figures by the Anti-Defamation League that showed anti-Semitic incidents in the United States increased 57 percent in 2017. Guterres also referenced a report by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency from last year, which showed that 28 percent of Jews experienced some form of harassment just for being Jewish.

This year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day marked the 74th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, and Guterres said it is imperative to heed the lessons of the Holocaust to prevent it from happening again.

“Such hatred is easy to uncork, and very hard to put back in the bottle,” Guterres warned.

He observed that a recent poll in Europe revealed that one-third of people surveyed reported knowing “little or nothing about the Holocaust.” Among millennials, “some two-thirds had no idea Auschwitz was a death camp,” Guterres said.

The European Commission published a special Eurobarometer on the perceptions of anti-Semitism last week, which revealed that despite a sharp rise in anti-Jewish hatred on the continent, “respondents are of the opinion that antisemitism has remained the same (39%), decreased (10%) or have no opinion (15%).” The report said, “These respondents form a majority in 22″ of the 28 countries surveyed.

“Over half of Europeans (54%) believe that the conflicts in the Middle East have an influence on the way Jewish people are perceived in their country,” the survey stated. “A majority share this opinion in 13 member states, mainly in Northern and Western Europe.”

Guterres observed, “Education is crucial — about the Holocaust, about genocide and crimes against humanity, about racism and the history of slavery.” He concluded his speech, saying, “We must stand up to those who disseminate hatred.”

During his tenure, the secretary-general has been vocal in his opposition to anti-Semitism. In May 2017, he said that the “denial of Israel’s right to exist is anti-Semitism.”

[Photo: Web Summit / Flickr ]