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On Eve of 75th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, B’nai B’rith Meets with Human Rights Chief

B’nai B’rith International and Israel’s Mission to the United Nations in Geneva held an urgent event today at the Palais des Nations, home of the U.N. Human Rights Council, “The Ideology Behind October 7: Dehumanization and Hatred of Jews and Israelis.”

B’nai B’rith also held meetings on anti-Semitic incitement with officials including U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, appealing for intensified international action to free hostages held in the Gaza Strip and protect Israel’s right of self-defense.

Coming on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the session on dehumanization explored the ideology and incitement underpinning recurrent conflict in the Middle East, and the exporting of bigotry beyond the region.

Two months to the day following the unprecedented Oct. 7 attacks in Israel by Palestinian terrorists based in Gaza—the most significant atrocities among Jews since the Holocaust, in whose wake the UDHR was drafted—leading experts presented analysis and documentation on the doctrine and stated objectives of jihadists behind violence that has deepened suffering among Israelis, Gazans and civilians of other diverse backgrounds.

The event, moderated by B’nai B’rith Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels, featured remarks by Israeli Ambassador Meirav Eilon Shahar and presentations by Itamar Marcus, founder and director, Palestinian Media Watch; Marcus Sheff, chief executive officer, IMPACT-se; and Yehudit Barsky, research fellow, Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy.

Separately, Michaels addressed a rally for the hostages’ freedom on the first night of Chanukah in front of the Geneva U.N. complex. The rally was moderated and co-led by a B’nai B’rith Geneva lay representative, Nurit Braun.

At the rally, Michaels said, “61 days on, we say to the international community, the U.N. and the Red Cross: Bring an end to this travesty by forcing Hamas, its collaborators and its sponsors to free all our hostages now… Israel, a country barely half the size of Switzerland, [has been] under fire from both south and north, from territories completely evacuated by Israelis, by groups explicitly committed to Israel’s total destruction. For the hostages and their families, the victims’ loved ones and the survivors, every day and every minute is a new October 7.”

He continued, “Tonight begins the festival of lights, Chanukah, which celebrates the ancient liberation of the Jewish people in Israel, in Jerusalem. Tragically, this Chanukah is one of darkness for so many… But as in the story of Chanukah…we will overcome again. No matter how outnumbered we are at the U.N. or in the world, no matter the politics and demonization and delegitimization and double standards, we will outlive the forces of fanaticism today just as we have in the past. We will not give up on peace, we will not give up on Israel’s right to equality and security, and we will never give up on our innocent hostages. Libérez-les maintenant! Free them now!”

The dehumanization panel, which attracted ambassadors and diplomats from at least 20 countries as well as the European Union, can be viewed here.