Extremism, Anti-Semitism Must Not Be Tolerated, Secretary-General Stresses in Remarks to American Jewish Organization

15 October 2013

Extremism, Anti-Semitism Must Not Be Tolerated, Secretary-General Stresses in Remarks to American Jewish Organization

15 October 2013
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Extremism, Anti-Semitism Must Not Be Tolerated, Secretary-General

Stresses in Remarks to American Jewish Organization


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the fiftieth Anniversary of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, in New York on 15 October:

It is a great pleasure to join you tonight.  Thank you for inviting the United Nations to be part of this celebration.

The international community and the American Jewish community enjoy a strong, unbreakable bond.  We share a common goal:  a world of peace and human dignity for all.  Our values are identical:  equality, tolerance and dignity.

There can also be no mistaking the distinct imprint that American Jewish organizations have made on the United Nations.  Some of your members were at the San Francisco conference in 1945, helping to ensure that human rights figured prominently in the Organization’s founding Charter.

Over the years we have campaigned together against injustice and intolerance.  And every day, diplomats, UN staff and all those who visit UN Headquarters stream past the Isaiah Wall bearing the quote that perfectly encapsulates our work:  the command to beat swords into ploughshares.  Our joint legacy is solid.  The question now is where we go from here.

We live in an era of tremendous opportunity.  We have the tools and knowledge to end poverty, hunger and disease.  We can support the hopeful, home-grown democratic movements that have sprung up across the world and enable the oppressed to realize their dreams of freedom.

At the same time, threats stalk our future:  a changing climate, young people without jobs, unresolved conflicts, including in the Middle East.  That means standing strong against extremists and all those who would incite or divide.  No one, — not Jews, Muslims or anyone else — should suffer or be targeted because of the creed they follow, the clothes they wear or the other markers of identity.  My position is unequivocal:  anti-Semitism has no place in the twenty-first century.  Too much is at stake to allow such discrimination to persist.

Uniting the world also means resolving lingering conflicts and containing the spread of nuclear weapons.  The resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is a welcome step away from a dangerous status quo.  This may well be the last chance to save the two-State solution.  We must also do everything we can to end the horrendous conflict in Syria, and be receptive to openings that present themselves across the region.

I look forward to strengthening the ties between the United Nations and all of you here tonight.  The UN Holocaust education outreach initiative continues to work with Yad Vashem and teachers in dozens of countries.  Next month, we will mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht with the screening of a film about the role of the Philippines in the rescue of European Jews.

In December, on the sixty-fifth anniversary of the Genocide Convention, we will bring together experts to discuss the challenges of genocide prevention today.  And in January, we will hold the ninth observance of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, the date of which marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

I have paid my respects at mass graves in Kigali, stood with the widows of the victims of the massacre at Srebrenica and stared disbelievingly at the human skulls on display at the Tuol Seng museum in Phnom Penh.

It is a cardinal mission of the United Nations to avert any such future horrors.  Therefore, it is only right that a Secretary-General of the United Nations also visit Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp where mechanized murder reached unique heights.  I will do so soon, to signal my commitment to the essential work of remembrance and prevention.

Our world is changing dramatically — politically, economically, environmentally, demographically.  We must find ways to work together more closely and more concertedly than ever before.  I trust you will all do your part.  Our doors are open to American Jewish organizations across the spectrum of our work.

I congratulate tonight’s honourees and thank all of you for your support.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.