Brussels, August 5th, 2020 – The European Coalition for Israel welcomes the appointment of former Spanish Foreign Minister, High Representative Miguel Moratinos as the focal point for the combat against anti-Semitism within the United Nations (UN).
Since 2019 Mr Moratinos has been the High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations which mandate now includes the responsibility to coordinate the UN fight against anti-Semitism. His new role was revealed last week when he issued an official statement expressing his dismay at the anti-Semitic views expressed by a senior member of the board of trustees of the British charity Islamic Relief. According to media reports the official had, among other things, referred to Jews as grandchildren of monkeys and pigs. The official was swiftly removed from his position and his posts on social media, which had been visible since 2014, were finally removed.
In a statement issued on July 28th, Moratinos reiterated that “it is imperative for civil society organizations to exhibit a zero tolerance for exhibiting anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination on-line and off- line.”
The appointment of High Representative Moratinos as the UN’s first anti-Semitism monitor follows similar developments in the European Union and major European countries such as Germany, UK and France which have all appointed their own coordinators against anti-Semitism in recent years.
In a letter addressed to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres in connection with the opening session of the 74th UN General Assembly in September 2019, ECI recommended the creation of a new position at the office of the Secretary-General to help coordinate the fight against anti-Semitism.
This recommendation was echoed in an ECI webinar on June 26th, when the German Commissioner for Jewish life and the fight against anti-Semitism, Dr Felix Klein also called for the appointment of a UN coordinator to help the global fight against anti-Semitism. Germany currently chairs the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). In the webinar he also promised to promote the fight against anti-Semitism a visible part of Germany’s tenure as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
The work to combat anti-Semitism as defined by the IHRA has not been an easy task. In recent weeks Ambassador Klein has come under harsh criticism from left wing academics and activists for raising awareness to anti-Semitic statements by an African Professor who was scheduled to speak at a cultural festival in Germany. In the ECI webinar Dr Klein explained his action by pointing out that every form of anti-Semitism, including anti-Israelism, needs to be condemned regardless of who is promoting it.
Earlier in the spring High Representative Moratinos participated in a by-invitation only ECI hosted virtual event on Jewish culture together with some forty UN-Ambassadors as well as the Director-General of the UN office in Geneva, Tatiana Valovaya, the EU-Coordinator against anti-Semitism Katharina von Schnurbein and the UN Rapporteur on Religious Freedom and Belief, Ahmed Shaheed. In a UN-report released last summer also Ahmed Shaheed called for a UN focal point against anti-Semitism.
In a letter to High Representative Moratinos on Wednesday, ECI congratulated him on his important appointment and extended an open invitation for deeper cooperation.
“In these uncertain times of a global pandemic we should not be surprised if we soon experience a new spike in Jew hatred as conspiracy theorists around the world are looking for a scape-goat to take the blame,” the letter reads. “History reveals that way too often this scapegoat happens to be the Jewish people. Given this alarming development we need a strong and united front against anti-Semitism. We therefore welcome this timely decision of the Secretary-General to affirm you in this new UN position and welcome you in joining the fight against this global disease.”