NEW YORK – The World Jewish Congress has presented a book of condolences with letters from affiliated Jewish communities around the world, in recognition of the victims of the massacre that took the lives of 50 people last month at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand.
A WJC delegation presented the book to Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, Mr. Finnian Cheshire in New York on Monday. Cheshire spoke of the current efforts being undertaken by the New Zealand government to contend with the aftermath of the attack, including the combating of hate speech and underscoring the importance of interfaith relations. A special Royal Commission of Inquiry has been established, Cheshire said, to investigate the Christchurch attacks. He also told the WJC delegation that the attack completely changed the outlook of citizens in New Zealand on their perception of hatred in their own country.
During the meeting, the importance of building bridges with faith communities was discussed, and of the role of WJC as a Jewish and human rights organization to speak out against antisemitism as well as attacks on other minorities. The WJC delegation also discussed its educational initiatives, including an ongoing joint initiative with UNESCO to raise awareness of the Holocaust, as an example of positive activism outside of the diplomatic sphere.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder underscored in his letter to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden: “We must not allow terrorists, wherever and whoever they may be, to intimidate us. We must never tolerate intolerance. We must cherish our freedom, including the freedom to worship. We must defend each other, and we must look after one another, across the religious, political, and national spectrums."
“The Jewish people stand in solidarity with all Muslims and all New Zealanders at this difficult time. We know that your country is strong and proud, and we pray we pray that you and your nation will never have to suffer such an atrocity again,” Lauder wrote.