Bipartisan Task Force Urges UN to Appoint Senior-Level Official to Combat Anti-Semitism
Today, Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Kay Granger (R-TX), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Randy Weber (R-TX), Marc Veasey (D-TX), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), the Co-Chairs of the House of Representatives Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, joined Representatives Lee Zeldin (R-NY), David Cicilline (D-RI), Brian Mast (R-FL), and Brad Sherman (D-CA) in sending a letter, signed by 104 members, to Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), that applauds a recent UN report focused on anti-Semitism and urges the appointment of a senior-level official to engage global leaders and fight against hatred of the Jewish people.
In the letter to the UN Secretary-General, the lawmakers conveyed their fear of rising anti-Semitism in the United States and their “deepest appreciation to the United Nations for releasing the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief’s report.” The lawmakers expressed gratitude “for the leadership and commitment of the Special Rapporteur, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, whose thoughtful research made this historic report possible.”
The report found what many lawmakers feared: many world leaders do not know the extent of hate and anti-Semitism in their countries, in large part because they don’t have the infrastructure to monitor hate crimes, and many victims do not report their experiences. The report concluded that a senior-level official in the UN should be appointed to assist in combating anti-Semitism and address the issues outlined by Dr. Ahmed Shaheed.
“We strongly urge you to implement this recommendation,” wrote lawmakers, “as we believe the appointment of a senior-level leader – similar to roles that have been created in the United States, European Union, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom – would enable the United Nations to take significant steps in the fight against the hatred of the Jewish people.”
The full text of the letter is below. A PDF copy is available here.
Dear Mr. Secretary-General,
As Members of the U.S. House of Representatives who care deeply about the scourge of anti-Jewish hate, we have watched with horror the increases in anti-Semitic incidents, rhetoric, and violence, both here in the United States and around the world. During Hanukkah in 2019, Jews in and around New York City were brutally beaten and stabbed in a string of violent anti-Semitic attacks.
We write to express our deepest appreciation to the United Nations for releasing the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief’s report, Combatting Antisemitism to Eliminate Discrimination and Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief. We are grateful for the leadership and commitment of the Special Rapporteur, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, whose thoughtful research made this historic report possible.
The report finds that most countries in the world have few, if any, methods for monitoring hate crimes, which is further compounded by the fact that many victims do not report their experiences. Additionally, it addresses claims that the objectives, activities, and effects of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement are “fundamentally anti-Semitic.” It also underscores what we have long believed – that anti-Semitism is “toxic to democracy.” All too often, communities that accept anti-Semitism are equally accepting of other forms of discrimination and bias-based hate.
The Special Rapporteur proposes several recommendations that different sectors can take to combat anti-Semitism. Under the report’s recommendation for the United Nations System, it suggests that the “Secretary General should consider appointing a senior-level focal point in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General with responsibility for engaging with the Jewish communities worldwide, as well as for monitoring antisemitism and the response of the United Nations thereto.”
We strongly urge you to implement this recommendation, as we believe the appointment of a senior-level leader – similar to roles that have been created in the United States, European Union, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom – would enable the United Nations to take significant steps in the fight against the hatred of the Jewish people. We look forward to learning more about your policy initiatives and thank you for your consideration of this request.