World Jewish Congress denounces racism at the UN Human Rights Council

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World Jewish Congress denounces racism at the UN Human Rights Council

The World Jewish Congress has made a resolute plea to the members and observer states of the Human Rights Council to stand firm and united against racism, during an urgent debate held on June 17th and 18th at the HRC, the UN’s most important human rights body.  
 
Evoking the historic ties and common struggles linking the Jewish and the black American communities, the WJC reminded the Council of the importance of standing in solidarity with those who are marginalized and discriminated against.  The very founding story of Judaism, the book of Exodus, describes the liberation of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt; similarly, black Americans had to fight for emancipation and basic civil rights and to this day must continue the struggle against discrimination and oppression, as would later be embodied in the spiritual “Let My People Go.” 
 
In the statement delivered by WJC representative in Geneva Leon Saltiel, the WJC stressed the importance of affirming the interfaith imperative in the fight against racism using the words Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King, who declared “the churches and synagogues have an opportunity and a duty to lift up their voice like a trumpet and declare unto the people the immorality of segregation.“  
 
Reminding the Council that silence is never an option, the WJC urged the international community to also heed the voice of Dr. Rabbi Printz of the World Jewish Congress’ American affiliate, who during the March on Washington would state that "the most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.”  
 
Today, in 2020, we must hearken to those voices lifted up in peaceful protest and must grapple with a painful past in order to build a better – and hopefully - in the words of the American Founding Fathers – a far more perfect union. 
 
The statement concluded as follows: “The World Jewish Congress would like to remind this body of those who galvanized moral progress by championing civil rights and making the fight against racism a fundamental tenet of democracy. We thus urge all member and observer states of this Council to meet the urgency of this moment and undertake decisive action to reform public institutions that discriminate, thereby denying any minority group its inalienable human rights.” 


 
Full Statement to the UNHRC

Thank you, Madam President, 

Demonstrations decrying racial injustice have spread across the globe. Protesters are not only demanding justice in the killing of George Floyd, which WJC President Ronald S. Lauder has condemned as a “horrific racist act,” but are raising their voices to condemn their own nation’s history of injustice and routine marginalization of Black people which continues to this day.

The Jewish people have struggled with institutional subjugation from time immemorial; indeed, our founding story, the Exodus, is one of liberation from state oppression, as would later be embodied in the spiritual “Let My People Go.” We are also reminded of the 1963 forum on “Religion and Race,” where  Dr. Martin Luther King affirmed the interfaith imperative in the fight against racism, declaring “the churches and synagogues have an opportunity and a duty to lift up their voice like a trumpet and declare unto the people the immorality of segregation.“

During the March on Washington later that year, Dr. Rabbi Printz of the World Jewish Congress’ American affiliate would state that “the most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence,” a sentiment echoed today by protesters’ signs reading “Silence is violence.”

The World Jewish Congress would like to remind this body of those who galvanized moral progress by championing civil rights and making the fight against racism a fundamental tenet of democracy. We thus urge all states of this Council to meet the urgency of this moment and undertake decisive action to reform public institutions that discriminate, thereby denying any minority group its inalienable human rights.

 

Watch: Other statements delivered by WJC representatives at the 43rd session of the UNHRC in Geneva, June 2020

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Speaking at the United Nations Human Rights Council, WJC discussed the proliferation of hate speech, antisemitism, and xenophobia amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Speaking at the United Nations Human Rights Council, WJC urged the body to undertake decisive action to reform public institutions that discriminate.

Watch: Statements delivered by WJC representatives at the 43rd session of the UNHRC in Geneva, February-March 2020

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