New York, NY, January 14, 2004 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's strong statement condemning anti-Semitism as an "important, significant and sensitive recognition" of the vital importance of this issue. Mr. Annan's statement was delivered as part of his inaugural Robert Burns Memorial Lecture at United Nations headquarters in New York City.
At the same time, however, the League expressed "very serious concerns" about the goals of a U.N. seminar on anti-Semitism scheduled to convene on January 22.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and author of Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism (HarperSanFrancisco, 2003) issued the following statement:
We welcome the Secretary General's statement condemning anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry. This was an important, significant and sensitive recognition that the explosion of anti-Semitism around the world is an issue that demands serious exploration by the U.N. We welcome and encourage any efforts by the U.N. to address the issue of anti-Semitism, particularly in light of recent failures to include the condemnation of anti-Semitism in General Assembly resolutions and the hostility to the existence of Israel in internal forums at the U.N.
While we were heartened by news of a special U.N. seminar dedicated to combating anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia and racism, we have some very serious concerns regarding the makeup of the panel and the apparent direction of the discussions.
We are concerned that the panel chosen to deliberate on this task is comprised almost totally of mental health professionals, and that this important opportunity to examine anti-Semitism and other hatreds could be too narrowly focused on a psychological perspective. Such an approach does not take into account the serious political and environmental factors that have given rise to new forms of anti-Semitism.