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Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are gathered here today to make a clear statement in support of a world where we can live together in peace and mutual respect – regardless of our faith, culture or ethnic origin. In the world we dream of, there is no place for intolerance, racism or anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism, be it open or veiled, is poison for this dream, which we all share.
That is why I am grateful that the General Assembly of the United Nations has come together today for an extraordinary meeting on the fight against anti-Semitism for the first time in its history.
We have recently witnessed a new wave of anti-Semitism all over the world. Scenes we thought we would never see again have become reality. Anti-Semitism is gaining ground in a loud and aggressive manner. We are deeply alarmed by the increasing number of attacks against Jewish facilities and by the use of anti-Semitic slogans in demonstrations in many countries, including Germany.
Let me be clear: anti-Semitism poses a threat not only to Jewish communities, but to society as a whole. This was shown dramatically by the shocking terrorist attack in Paris on 9 January, when four people were killed in a kosher supermarket simply because they were Jewish. The recent events in Paris show that we need to take decisive measures in our fight against anti-Semitism – both on the national and international level.
Because of its historical responsibility for the Holocaust, my country fights and will always fight anti-Semitism in whatever form it is expressed. There is no justification for anti-Semitism, either in Germany, France or any other place in the world. As we approach the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp, we are reminded that it is vital to pursue a zero-tolerance policy on anti-Semitism and any other form of discrimination against minorities. In 2015, no one should have to live in fear because of their faith, ethnicity or sexual identity.
Last year we celebrated the tenth anniversary of the OSCE’s Berlin Declaration, which was a milestone in the fight against anti-Semitism. Today, we are witnessing another milestone in this fight. We very much welcome the fact that an extraordinary meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations is being held on this important issue. It is more than merely a political symbol that Germany and France are represented at ministerial level here today.
My French colleague Harlem Désir and I are joining this meeting – on the day of Franco-German friendship – in order to show our strong commitment to our common values. Safeguarding our values and promoting tolerant, open and democratic societies is crucial – perhaps now more than ever. For us, this is most definitely not a question of routine, but rather a top political priority.
Together with our partners in the European Union and the United Nations, Germany and France are doing everything in their power to ensure that offenders are prosecuted and brought to justice. In addition, we are taking a number of preventive measures, ranging from research and analysis to educational programmes and improved integration work, in order to promote tolerance, understanding and social cohesion. The German Government has taken a number of steps in this regard. Furthermore, my ministry has initiated a number of projects to strengthen Jewish life all over Europe. We put emphasis on close contact with Jewish organisations around the world.
To this end, the Federal Foreign Office has appointed a Special Representative for Relations with Jewish Organizations and Issues Relating to Anti-Semitism.
We are aware that politicians and governments alone will not be able to fight anti-Semitism. It affects us all – not only governments. Each and every one of us can help combat anti-Semitism and unmask prejudices against Jewish people. We do not want Jewish communities to be sheltered minorities in need of protection. We want them to be a part of everyday life at the heart of our society. Only when Jewish facilities no longer need special protection will we have restored normality. We will not stop until we achieve this aim.