UN Special Session on 'Re-awakened' Anti-Semitism

World pledged 'never again' after Holocaust, 'but here we are again,' leaders say at urgent UN meeting on rising wave of lethal Jew hatred.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Muslim anti-Semitic protest in Europe (file)
Muslim anti-Semitic protest in Europe (file)

The UN General Assembly opened a special session on Thursday to denounce the global rise of anti-Semitism, two weeks after Islamist attacks in Paris that shocked the world, with one targeting a kosher supermarket in which four Jewish hostages were murdered.

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy told the 193-nation assembly that the world must confront "the renewed advance of this radical inhumanity, this total baseness that is anti-Semitism."

While the meeting was scheduled before the attacks on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Paris kosher supermarket, it took on a fresh sense of urgency in the wake of the violence.

The attack on the kosher deli took place on January 9, and followed the murder of 12 people in the assault on the Charlie Hebdo weekly in the worst violence in France in decades.

"In Paris, just a few days ago, we heard once again the infamous cry 'Death to the Jews' and cartoonists were killed because of cartooning, police for policing and Jews just for shopping and being Jews," Levy said.

"In other capitals in Europe and elsewhere, faulting the Jews is once again becoming the rallying cry of a new order of assassins, unless it is the same but cloaked in new habits," he added.

Levy recalled that the United Nations was created in the wake of World War II and the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust that led to calls to "Never Again" allow genocide.

"This assembly was given the sacred task of preventing those terrible spirits from re-awakening, but they have returned and that is why we are
here," said Levy.

"It is up to you, who are the faces of the world, to be the architects of a house in which the mother of all hates - anti-Semitic hate - would see its
place reduced," he said.

US Ambassador Samantha Power said it would be a "big mistake" to think that anti-Semitism was a European problem and cited a report showing that two-thirds of religious-driven hate crimes in the United States targeted Jews.

"While Jews in Europe may feel increasingly fearful or even threatened, we must not forget there are communities - and even entire countries - where attending a synagogue or Jewish school is impossible, because they do not exist," said Power.

"Never Again"

Thirty-seven countries including Israel, the United States, all 28 countries of the European Union, Canada and Australia requested the meeting last October.

In a direct appeal to world governments, Israel's ambassador urged them to show vigilance to "spot the warning signs" and act swiftly to condemn anti-Semitism.

"I call on every nation to stand tall beside us. Refuse to allow evil to take root. Refuse to be silent. And refuse to submit to indifference," said Ron Prosor.

"The world pledged 'Never again,' but here we are again," he added. "Seventy years after the Holocaust ended, European Jews are once again living in fear."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recalled that UN efforts were being severely tested by rising extremism, and said conflict in the Middle East should not serve as a pretext for violence.

"Grievances about Israeli actions must never be used as an excuse to attack Jews. In the same vein, criticisms of Israeli actions should not be summarily dismissed as anti-Semitism," said Ban, flip-flopping regarding the fusion of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

Levy also evoked the crisis in the Middle East and rejected the view that Israeli-Arab tensions were fueling anti-Semitism.

"Even if Israel was exemplary - a nation of angels - even if they granted the Palestinians a state which is their right, even then this enigmatic and old hatred would not dissipate one iota," said Levy.

France's minister for Europe, Harlem Desir, said the world must respond resolutely to acts of anti-Semitism and recalled that his government had taken steps to protect Jewish sites, combat hate on the Internet and promote tolerance through education.

"Those who attack Jews in France because they are Jews are also attacking France, its values, the republic and its integrity," Desir told the assembly.

AFP contributed to this report.