Thank you, Ambassador, for bringing us together on this crucial topic. Ambassador Lipstadt regrets that she is not able to participate as she is on travel, but she wanted to ensure that our office showed our support for this important event.
We applaud the Swedish government for your leadership in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and for hosting the 2021 Malmo International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism.
We are moved by the generous support of the Swedish government for the newly inaugurated Holocaust Remembrance Museum in Stockholm, an idea proposed by Polish-born Holocaust survivor, Max Safir, which currently offers a virtual exhibit with artefacts from Holocaust survivors that went to Sweeden. The physical building is undergoing the last stage of renovation plans and is set to open in a few months, from our understanding.
Beyond its essential efforts in the area of Holocaust education, we also applaud the focus on countering rising global antisemitism and Holocaust distortion, safeguarding religious freedom, and promoting tolerance.
We are thankful for our partnerships with so many leaders here, including our friend High Representative and Focal Point Miguel Moratinos, who is taking on the challenge of antisemitism within the United Nations. Ambassador Lipstadt and I had the opportunity to meet with him in Brussels last week. Our offices have already done great work together, including on planned resolution protecting the religious right of ritual slaughter – an important next step and another example of Miguel’s outstanding leadership on these issues.
Also, thank you Special Adviser Nderitu for your commitment to ensuring that antisemitism is specifically addressed as part of the UN Action Plans on Holocaust and Genocide Denial. We look forward to working with you on that front.
Former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed, who has been a champion of human rights, created a strong framework in his Action Plan to Combat Antisemitism. Thank you Dr. Shaheed for this groundbreaking document. You have paved the way for others to continue with your formidable job, inspiring us all with your deep knowledge and passion. We look forward to working with new incoming Special Rapporteur – indeed, our office always welcomes more professors to the fold. We know that she will no doubt reinforce and expand the UN’s active engagement in this area. Dr. Shaheed, your action plan is a true model for all of us on how the international community can move forward.
In that regard, I just returned from Brussels, where I joined Ambassador Lipstadt at the EU’s first conference on ritual slaughter. As you know, one of Dr. Shaheed’s points in the action plan called upon governments to ensure that members of Jewish communities are able to practice their religion, specifically citing the practice of shechita. It is crucial that we recognize when states propose or pass legislation to ban slaughter without stunning, with no exemption for religious reasons, that they are undermining the ability of some members of Jewish communities – as well as Muslims – to freely practice their faith. Not only do absolute bans interfere with the right to practice one’s religion, but they also send a message of exclusion to those who seek to follow religious or cultural dietary requirements. We see the same religious freedom issue impacting both Jewish and Muslim communities with proposals to ban male circumcision, with Dr. Shaheed’s action plan citing brit mila as essential to Jewish life.
I also travelled to Bahrain, Israel, and the UAE recently. My conversations there impressed upon me the value of bilateral partnerships, in addition to multilateral efforts at the UN and in other international bodies, in addressing global challenges such as combating Jew hatred and advancing tolerance. None of us can effectively address these issues alone or in silos. The United States is committed to working with governments, civil society, faith communities, and the private sector to realize the Action Plan to Combat Antisemitism. Thank you to everyone for all that you’re doing for this important cause.