By Milan Kumar, a Spring 2015 Leadership Conference Education Fund Intern
Amidst a rise in anti-Semitic violence around the world, the United Nations General Assembly hosted a plenary meeting last week to discuss the best way to respond to the violence. Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, gave remarks at the meeting and focused on the importance of responding to anti-Semitism with diversity.
“I am here because anti-Semitism is not a problem just for Jews,” Henderson said. “It is a problem that threatens our fundamental human rights, and challenges the essence of our democracies. It is everyone’s responsibility to combat anti-Semitism, and all forms of racism, bigotry, intolerance, and xenophobia that hold our societies back from reaching their full potential.”
This U.N. General Assembly meeting comes after a delegation of civil and human rights advocates attended the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) conference on anti-Semitism in Berlin in November. The delegation included leading Jewish, Muslim, Latino, African-American, Asian American, women’s and LGBT civil rights leaders to encourage the OSCE member states to do more to protect minorities from religious, racial, ethnic, homophobic, and xenophobic hate crimes.
The delegation highlighted the success of their inter-faith, inter-racial coalition in the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) in 2009, and urged OSCE nations to follow this model with respect to anti-Semitism in Europe.
“We have come to Berlin to demonstrate our solidarity with communities facing anti-Semitism and bigotry and to exchange models for successful inter-racial, inter-faith coalitions. Our experience is that broad, inclusive coalitions can galvanize public support and a more accountable and responsive government approach,” said Henderson, head of the delegation.