António Guterres, the new Secretary-General of the United Nations, has pledged to be on the front line in the fight against antisemitism. In a powerful speech to delegates at the World Jewish Congress’ Plenary Assembly in New York, Guterres proclaimed that: “You can be absolutely sure, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I will be in the front line of the struggle against antisemitism and to make sure the United Nations is able to to take all possible actions for antisemitism to be condemned, and if possible, eradicated from the face of the earth.”
“A modern form of antisemitism is the denial of the existence of the State of Israel,” Guterres said. “As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I can say that the State of Israel needs to be treated as any other state, with exactly the same rules.” Campaign Against Antisemitism welcomes and endorses this direct statement from the head of the United Nations regarding what is defined as antisemitism. It aligns with the International Definition of Antisemitism that was adopted by the British Government following a long campaign by Campaign Against Antisemitism and others. The definition states that “Applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” is antisemitic.
Guterres, who only assumed office in January, also called the Holocaust “the most heinous crime in the history of mankind” and denounced rising antisemitism. “We see today antisemitism alive and well,” he said. “We see it in acts of physical aggression, murders of Jewish people in different parts of the world, destruction of property, destruction of monuments, destruction of centres.”