At the first-ever informal United Nations conference addressing anti-Semitism, surprise attendee Saudi Arabia blamed Israeli “occupation” for the global rise in anti-Semitism.
“Colonization and occupation fuels anti-Semitism… occupation is an act of anti-Semitism. It threatens human rights and human kind,” said Saudi Arabian ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi, who spoke on behalf of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Countries.
Al-Mouallimi also condemned all words and acts that lead to “to hatred, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon struck a different tone, arguing that “grievances about Israeli actions must never be used as an excuse to attack Jews.”
Amid the Gaza war last summer, anti-Semitic attacks in Europe and elsewhere in the world rose to their highest levels in decades, with protesters in several countries going as far as calling for Jews to be attacked and even gassed. More recently, four Jewish shoppers were killed in an attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris.
“Violent anti-Semitism is casting a shadow over Europe,” Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor said, calling out other U.N. member countries for their anti-Semitic remarks.
“This summer, disguised as humanitarian concern, delegates have used this podium to commit anti-Semitism, accusing Israel of behaving like Nazis,” Prosor added. “It doesn’t matter how much you’re angered or frustrated by our conflict. There is no excuse for statements like that.”
Germany’s representative at the conference, Michael Roth, echoed this concern, saying that “anti-Semitism is gaining ground in a loud and aggressive manner” and that it poses a threat to European society.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, noting that nearly two-thirds of religion-driven hate crimes in the U.S. target Jews, said the world must take action against “this monstrous global problem.”
“When the human rights of Jews are repressed, the rights of other religious and ethnic groups are often not far behind,” Power said.