Earlier this week, E. Tendayi Achiume told the General Assembly’s Third Committee that the push for nations to adopt the Definition should be suspended, saying: “I highlight the controversial status, divisive effects and negative human rights impacts of the [International] Definition [of] Antisemitism.”
Ms Achiume made the remarks in connection with a report that she had submitted to the Committee, which she said focused on the rising dangers of antisemitism, neo-Nazism and racism but which was also critical of the supposed instrumentalisation of tools designed to address those trends. She added: “Precisely because…antisemitism remains an urgent issue of human rights concern, I urge the UN system and UN member states to launch an open and inclusive process.”
Her position was condemned by the United States, Canada and Israel, while the UK, European Union, Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Austria and Italy all reportedly spoke in support of the Definition and its utility in identifying and combatting antisemitism.
An American official accused Ms Achiume’s report of having “politicised the [International] Definition,” while a Canadian diplomat observed that the Definition is carefully crafted to enable a common fight against antisemitism and it is not meant to inhibit the ability to criticise the state of Israel, saying: “Too often the contemporary examples included in the Definition is employed as justification for hatred…online and off and in university campuses and across public discourse.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism has shown how the International Definition of Antisemitism does not conflict with freedom of expression under UK law.
The sentiments appeared to conflict those of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, who said a couple of years ago that antisemitism is the “canary in the coalmine of global hatred” and “toxic to democracy” as he delivered his ground-breaking report titled Combatting Antisemitism to Eliminate Discrimination and Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief.
Earlier this year, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres disappointed mainstream Jewish groups for merely “acknowledging” the International Definition of Antisemitism but failing to adopt it.
Campaign Against Antisemitism reports on news and incidents relating to antisemitism worldwide.