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B’nai Brith Welcomes Groundbreaking UN Antisemitism Report

September 24, 2019

B’nai Brith Canada

OTTAWA – B’nai Brith Canada welcomes the ground-breaking new report on antisemitism by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

The complete report, by Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, has been posted on the Special Rapporteur’s website. It will be presented by Shaheed to the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee on Oct. 17. This marks the first time that a senior UN expert has addressed the scourge of antisemitism directly, as an issue in its own right.

Shaheed visited Canada in June while working on the report and met with B’nai Brith representatives, who formally conveyed views on the impact of antisemitism on freedom of religion (page doesn’t exist).

Shaheed’s report identifies violence, discrimination and expressions of hostility motivated by antisemitism as serious obstacles to freedom of religion or belief around the world. He expresses “serious concern that the frequency of antisemitic incidents appears to be increasing in magnitude and that the prevalence of antisemitic attitudes and the risk of violence against Jewish individuals and sites appears to be significant, including in countries with little or no Jewish population.”

The Special Rapporteur’s key recommendations include:

  • Governments must acknowledge the threat to stability and security posed by antisemitism.
  • Governments must acknowledge that antisemitic hate crimes engage the obligation of the State under international human rights law to protect Jews against the violation of their fundamental rights.
  • Hate-crime legislation should recognize antisemitism as a prohibited bias motivation that is clear, concrete and easy to understand.
  • Data-collection systems are required to facilitate the reporting of antisemitic hate crimes.
  • Governments must more forthrightly act to identify, document, and prohibit the commission of antisemitic hate crimes.
  • Political parties should adopt and enforce ethical guidelines and leaders must promptly, clearly and consistently reject manifestations of antisemitism in their parties and in public discourse.
  • There is a need for enhanced government outreach to Jewish communities.
  • Governments must take actions in the areas of education and awareness aimed at curbing the spread of antisemitic views.

The report recommends that all UN member states adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance‘s working definition of antisemitism. The report notes that the IHRA definition clearly and compactly describes antisemitism in its various forms, including Holocaust denial, prejudice against Jews, and the denial of Israel’s right to exist. B’nai Brith has long advocated for Canada’s adoption and clear implementation of the IHRA definition, by all levels of government. The federal government adopted the definition in June as part of its anti-racism strategy.

“Thanks to Dr. Shaheed’s dedicated work and perseverance, the UN has an opportunity to acknowledge the corrosive nature of an ages-old hatred against Jews,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “Dr. Shaheed has offered constructive guidance on how all countries can finally confront antisemitism effectively. His conclusions fit well with B’nai Brith’s Eight Point Plan to Tackle Antisemitism, which we continue to pursue in our dialogue with Canada’s leaders.”

“This report represents an important step in recognizing that antisemitism poses a threat to freedom of religion or belief,” said Brian Herman, Director of Government Relations for B’nai Brith Canada. “The important work has just begun, and we will work with the Canadian government to ensure strong support for this report and concrete followup when it is discussed at the UN.”