Never again?

On January 27 the world observed Holocaust Remembrance Day as it is a very important day for humanity, but most importantly for the Jewish people. It is a day that commemorates the deadliest genocide in history. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/7 designated today as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day to remember the systematic murder of over six million Jewish people by Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1945. It is also a day to send a message to anti-Semites that never again will the world allow Jews to be subjected to murder, torture, abuse, hate, and discrimination because of their faith.

And yet, the United Nations itself has been responsible for discrimination against Jewish people today. We say never again, but the UN itself allows Jews to be targeted yet again. As a Muslim, a humanist, and an immigrant from the Middle East, I feel it is my duty to stand for my Jewish brothers and sisters who are rightful partners in the lands in the Middle East.

It is no secret that Israel’s neighbours in the Middle East have a deep antagonism towards Israel. Even though political leaders speak differently, the people of the Middle East have been raised to hate the region’s indigenous Jewish people. Unlike most Canadians, many people in the Middle East have been taught to hate people of different religions. Now this tradition of hatred towards Jewish people is increasing and becoming a global epidemic.

As a person born and raised in the Middle East and a patriotic citizen of the region, my concern for Jewish people grows daily. One of the biggest concerns is the UN’s own Human Rights Council, with its repeated censures against Israel. The total of all UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolutions condemning Israel is more than all other Middle Eastern countries combined. According to a 2015 report, Afghanistan got 0, Egypt got 0, Iran got 5, Iraq got 0, Pakistan got 0, Qatar got 0, Saudi Arabia got 0, Turkey got 0, UAE got 0, Syria got 17.  Israel, the only democratic state in the Middle East, got 62 condemnations.  Some of the world’s most serious civil rights violators, like China and Cuba, have not been censured by the UNHRC, while Israel has been targeted 62 times.

My argument here is not that Israel is a perfect country; definitely there is room for improvement. But singling out Israel in the world for extraordinary condemnation and isolating the Jewish state while ignoring serious civil rights violations by other countries can only be attributed to anti-Semitism.

The United Nations was created after the Second World War to ensure that such a catastrophe never happened again.  And yet, the UN is being used as a tool to once again target Jews. As a fellow citizen of the Middle East, I urge my countrymen to fight against this discrimination. As Muslims we must defend the rights of the children of our prophets. As true humanists we must rise to bring an end to hatred towards our Jewish brothers and sisters.

When we stay silent we give unspoken approval to the anti-Semitism that gave rise to the Holocaust, and the promise “Never again” will be a lie.

Yusuf Cheliyan
Ottawa, Ontario