Thank you. And thank you to the Combat Antisemitism Movement for giving me the platform to speak today about our office’s important work.

My boss, Deborah Lipstadt, as you know, is the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism. And she’s currently in Israel to witness what happened, or the aftermath, firsthand. As we know, there’s been a tsunami of antisemitism, including quite violent acts since October 7th.

I think what also happened in the aftermath of October 7th, presented a certain type of moral clarity on how comfortable antisemites seemed to be throughout the world and on the streets of many cities internationally. When we came into office, one of our main objectives was to help people understand what antisemitism is. As we know, antisemitism is ubiquitous, it’s free flowing, it comes from every region, no country’s immune, and it comes from all across the political spectrum.

In fact, to my friends on the right who constantly are calling out antisemitism on the left and often correctly, and I have friends on the left who can see with 20/20 vision antisemitism on the right. But unless you’re calling out the antisemitism right next to you with people you agree with on almost every issue, ultimately you’re weaponizing antisemitism for, for politics, which overall undermines the entire fight against antisemitism. We also want to ensure that people take antisemitism seriously and not see it as just an issue. As some of the speakers before me mentioned, antisemitism is fundamentally a threat to democracy and order.

We work to help people, Jews and non-Jews, understand the interconnectedness of antisemitism and how with other forms of hate and how it is a genuine threat to our national security and the goal of protecting human rights more broadly. Though our office is overseas, unfortunately, domestic and international antisemitism are linked, which is why President Biden for the first time ever created a comprehensive United States plan to combat antisemitism with over a hundred individual actions that the United States is gonna be taking in the near future. And then overseas, as you know, we urge other countries to embrace the IHRA definition as we do, and more and more governments are doing so.

And I know the OAS has played a key role in that. And we’re also urging countries to appoint special envoys like Fernando Lottenberg and others so that there’s a point person for us to communicate with, special envoy to special envoy, but also so they have somebody within their own government who’s an expert in combating antisemitism from within.

Some of you may remember the issue with Lufthansa Airlines around a year and a half ago, not going into specifics to rehash it, but by the time our office called our German colleague, Dr. Felix Klein, he was already on top of it. He was working within the government to address it in a way that just couldn’t have happened without someone concentrating on this issue.

And within the past year, Ambassador Lipstadt and I have visited numerous countries to convey that message government to government. On Sunday, I just came back from a 10 day trip in Latin America where I visited Argentina, Chile, and Brazil. So I became quite familiar with the translators ’cause unfortunately I speak neither Spanish nor Portuguese.

And part of the message we were conveying is that it’s essential to our bilateral relationship with each of those countries that we take antisemitism seriously, both for our government to government relations, but also to ensure that your local Jewish community feels safe. Not just that they’re safe from violent antisemitism, but they feel free to practice their Judaism in an expansive way. It’s not just about protecting Jewish lives, it’s about enriching Jewish life in those individual countries.

I started in Argentina where the government and civil society are quite strong as, as many of you know, they have a special envoy, a wonderful ambassador on antisemitism, and that they’re a full member of IHRA.

So from there I went to Chile and was able to engage with the government directly along with Jewish leaders and civil society. And did the same in Brazil. In Brasília I met with the federal police who walked me through how they deal with antisemitism, especially online, and that they enforced their laws quite robustly and have a nuanced understanding of IHRA after Rio and Sao Paulo have embraced the definition recently. And you know, we have to remain vigilant in that region. There’s no region that’s immune from antisemitism. And just like our office has concentrated on Europe and the Middle East, so too, we should concentrate on Latin America.

As we all know, since October 7th, we’ve seen a sharp increase in antisemitism throughout the world, including violent attacks. It remains a serious problem throughout the world and in Latin America, even though in Latin America the violent incidents aren’t quite as high as others. But just so we’re all clear, targeting Jewish communities with hate, intimidation or violence is not defending the rights of Palestinians, it’s just antisemitism. So many national leaders and international organizations across the globe have condemned antisemitic acts in the strongest terms.

At the same time since October 7th, there have also been demonstrations in many countries, including some countries and regions which we represent, in which individuals sickly celebrated the murder of Jews and even called for more antisemitic assaults.

And again, just to be clear, there’s no context in which calling for the genocide of Jews is not antisemitic. Unfortunately, it’s also not uncommon that when there is an increase in antisemitic conspiracy theories and hatred against Jews, members of other marginalized racial and ethnic communities are also targeted.

Leaders in the international, national and local levels need to understand and condemn antisemitism and Jew hatred immediately and unequivocally, wherever it shows its ugly head.

Ambassador Loguzzo and Commissioner Lottenberg’s role are more important now than they have ever been in the region and bringing the cause of educating governments and bringing civil society together in this fight. We also

welcome OAS’s efforts to advance the mantra, “more rights for more people.” And the OAS’s Secretary for Access to Rights and Humanity, as well as the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, which all play key roles in supporting our common goals in social inclusion, equity, and diversity.

A key part of my office’s mandate is also to advocate for the embrace of the IHRA working definition on antisemitism, inclusive of its examples. The working definition helps government at all levels, law enforcement, international organizations, the media, public figures, civil society, interfaith groups and educators call out and condemn antisemitic hatred and discrimination. According to IHRA, there are 43 countries, including political entities and regional and state local governments that have embraced the definition. Several countries in the OAS region, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Uruguay, Canada, and the United States have embraced the definition of one way or another, which is a positive step.

The United States is your ally and is available to help us together advocate for the use of the definition as a tool.

As we reach the end of Hanukkah, sometimes we’re asked how are we, what’s the best way to combat antisemitism?

I’ve laid out a few and we, we know others and we will work with CAM on identifying the best practices. I think, though Hanukkah actually teaches an important lesson.

While the rabbis may have had some conversations about which way to light the hanukkiah, the way we light the hanukkiah as we approach all the candles being lit is one at a time.

And each day you bring more and more light into your home because when you look into combating antisemitism, you look into the darkness, you can’t see the end of it, it just, it continues and continues and continues. But if you take every day we work together as countries and as civil society and as leaders to just try to chip away at the hate one by one. And then eventually towards the, as we reach that goal of defeating hate and combating antisemitism, things become a little lighter. So while the task might be overwhelming, we are not excused to, to try to make it better. So that even a little bit of light, wherever it’s found, can dispel the darkness and illuminate a path forward as we work together.

It’s important now more than ever, and let us carry that into the new year and next year.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future