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Religious Groups at UN Decry Anti-semitism in World Body

In an unprecedented action, a joint statement by representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations from the major religious bodies at the United Nations, have expressed concern that attacks against Israel in the General Assembly have “degenerated into blatant anti-Semitism,” the World Jewish Congress reported today.

The statement was approved last Thursday by the caucus known as “Religious NGO’s” and was incorporated into the annual assessment of the work of the General Assembly issued by the group. According to the WJC representatives at that meeting, Elan Steinberg, the statement, though of a general nature, was intended to be an explicit repudiation of the anti-Semitic remarks of the Libyan representative to the General Assembly on December 6, 1983.

On that occasion, the Libyan Ambassador, Ali Treiki, said: “It is high time for the United Nations and the United States in particular to realize that the Jewish Zionists here in the United States attempt to destroy Americans. Look around New York. Who are the owners of pornographic film operations and houses? Is it not the Jews who are exploiting the American people and trying to debase them?”

In response to the Libyan outburst, Secretary-General-Javier Perez de Cuellar the following day issued a statement calling on delegates to refrain from such “unbecoming language.”

STATEMENT OF CONCERN

According to the WJC UN office, a meeting of all the representatives of Jewish NGO’s was held three weeks ago and a decision was made to seek condemnation of the Libyan’s diatribe from appropriate quarters. The initiative to approach the religious NGO’s on the issue came from that meeting.

The statement of concern was incorporated in the report approved last Thursday entitled “Assessment of the 38th United Nations General Assembly of Religious Non-Governmental Organizations.” The lengthy annual report is divided into disarmament questions, economic questions, and social and humanitarian questions. The statement of anti-Semitism is contained within the social and humanitarian section.

The final text, as approved Thursday, reads:

“One of the troubling developments at the 38th session of the General Assembly was the recurrence of manifestations of racist rhetoric. For example, certain attacks against Israel degenerated into blatant anti-Semitism. The Secretary-General appealed ‘to all members to refrain from language unbecoming to serious international debate,’ and we strongly endorse his appeal.”

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