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U.N. Human Rights Panel Condemns Anti-semitism in a Historic Vote

For the first time in its 50-year history, the U.N. Human Rights Commission has passed a measure condemning anti-Semitism.

The resolution was adopted March 9 in Geneva, where the 53-member panel meets, following its submission by the Turkish government. It was passed by a show of hands.

It was the first time since the United Nations was founded — and after most of Europe’s Jews had been killed by the Nazis — that a U.N. body had singled out hatred of Jews as an evil.

The commission noted that “racism, racial discrimination, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and related intolerance, as well as acts of racial violence, persist and are even growing in magnitude, continually assuming new forms.”

Advocacy for the measure was a cooperative venture of the Turkish and U.S. governments, with strong ongoing encouragement from Jewish groups.

The resolution specifically includes anti-Semitism “among other forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” and makes reference to it both in its preamble and in its operative paragraphs.

The resolution also condemns discrimination against Arabs, Muslims and blacks.

The bill is called L14, Rev. 1.

“L14, Rev. 1 isn’t much of a name, but it represents a dramatic change” in United Nations history, B’nai B’rith International said in a statement.

B’nai B’rith President Kent Schiner called the resolution “a blow to the neo-Nazis and the hatemongers of this world who try to spread their venomous hate.”

VICTORY FOR CAUSE OF HUMAN RIGHTS

The U.S. State Department called the measure’s passage an important achievement, the “result of a long-concerted effort waged by the United States with the support of a number of other governments.”

Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress, called the measure “a victory not only for the Jewish people but for all who seek to advance the universal cause of human rights.”

The WJC was represented at the rights panel by Morris Abram, who is head of the WJC’s U.N. Watch Program in Geneva and who was previously U.N. ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, following his term as chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry.

In 1975, Abram proposed a similar resolution when he was a representative of the U.S. delegation to the same rights panel. The rights panel’s investigator of racism is now required to look into and report on incidents of anti-Semitism and related intolerances, Abram explained.

Condemnation of anti-Semitism, which was inserted into both the preamble and the general text, was included in a general resolution condemning all forms of racism, including discrimination against blacks, Arabs and Muslims.

The panel also unanimously condemned the violations against civilians in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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