In late September, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief for the United Nations, Ahmed Shaheed, gave a report on global antisemitism—the first report of its kind.
In the report, Shaheed condemns both right- and left-wing antisemitism. He notes that some antisemitism, which he classifies as right-wing antisemitism, is “often expressed in racialized terms, characterizing Jewish people as sub-humans that must be excluded from ‘normal’ human civilization,” a view that was “used to justify the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.” On the other hand, Shaheed also notes that “left-wing” antisemitism is employed by people “expressing anger at policies or practices of the government of Israel.” While individuals in this group would claim to be anti-racist, some “have engaged in Holocaust denial,” while others have “conflated Zionism, the self-determination movement of the Jewish people, with racism,” and have “claimed Israel does not have a right to exist.” Furthermore, Special Rapporteur Shaheed condemned the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement as “fundamentally antisemitic.”
Later in the report, Shaheed recommends that countries around the world “follow a human rights-based approach to combatting antisemitism.” This approach would involve all sectors: national governments, civil societies, media, and even the United Nations itself. Shaheed urges the global implementation of “measures which foster the development of democratic societies that are resilient to extremist ideologies, including antisemitic propaganda, by fostering critical thinking, empathy, and human rights literacy.”
Shaheed’s report is unprecedented and incredibly significant. As Shaheed poignantly notes, “antisemitism is toxic to democracy and mutual respect of citizens and threatens all societies in which it goes unchallenged.”
Let us pray for the countries that are part of the United Nations, and for the United Nations itself, as these entities work to combat antisemitism and bring unity and mutual understanding among peoples of differing backgrounds.
unwatch.org. “Rare: Un Calls Out ‘left Wing Antisemtism’, ‘delegitimitzation of Israel’s Right to Exist’.” 2019. https://unwatch.org/rare-un-issues-report-on-antisemitism/.
unwatch.org. “Advance Unedited Version.” September 20, 2019. https://unwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019-UN-Report-on-Antisemitism-A_74_47921ADV.pdf.