High-level event on Anti-Semitism

Opening remarks by President of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, at the High-level event on Anti-Semitism

7 September 2016


Today’s high level meeting is about how to contain and eliminate one of History’s longest running and most infamous hate campaigns – anti-Semitism


It is incredibly sad and frightening that we see many new outbreaks even today.


Those of us who have lived most of our life in Europe in the 20th Century should never forget what the Holocaust was. I was the systematic murder of millions of Jews and the ultimate horrific consequence of many centuries of strong forces preaching and embracing systematic hatred against an ethnic and religious minority.


You may be aware that occupied Denmark was one of very few places in Nazi-dominated Europe where the vast majority of the Jewish population survived the Holocaust, because their Danish compatriots actively supported their Jewish countrymen fleeing to refuge in neutral Sweden.


I grew up in post-World-War-Two Denmark –listening to the stories of the horrors of our immediate European past.


Some of my closest lifelong friends are Jewish, and I never quite comprehended how this collective hatred – this dehumanization of whole groups of human beings – could ever be inflamed and lead to such horrific and unimaginable consequences.


But even in this day and age we have experienced new genocides. In Rwanda, in Srebenica, on the Sinjaj Mountain and elsewhere we have seen one ethnic or religious group slaughtering another en masse.


We also experienced a wave of dangerous animosity against people of Muslim faith because of the cruel terrorism of the few fanatics that twist and misuse a great religion


We – the United Nations – have an enormous responsibility to go up against all expressions of prejudice and incitement – not least by supporting information and education about the horrible History of hate and genocide against Jewish people.


But we have to be extremely careful and precise in what is and what is not anti-Semitism.


It is not anti-Semitic to call for an end of the occupation and repression of the people of Palestine – and to demand an end to illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.


That call – as well as our common, tireless fight against any kind of hate and incitement – is in line with what this Great General Assembly has expressed again and again.


I thank you, and I wish the best of deliberations today in order to find the right remedies to eliminate infamous and dangerous hatred.