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Samantha Power Praises ‘Serious’ U.N. Meeting on Anti-Semitism

The first-ever United Nations General Assembly meeting on anti-Semitism showed “a consensus in the international community” on the seriousness of the issue, according to Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Speaking to a telephone press briefing from New York during Thursday’s conference, called by 37 member states in the shadow of growing anti-Jewish attacks in Europe, Power called on governments and civil society to battle anti-Semitism, which is seeing “an upsurge around the world.”

While this month’s terrorist attacks in Paris were a focus of the U.N. meeting, the gathering was planned before those events, Power said.

As part of the American fight against anti-Semitism, President Barack Obama will host a meeting in February at the White House, she said.

In a separate statement about the U.N. meeting, Obama cited the deadly Paris attack earlier this month on a kosher supermarket as underscoring the gathering’s importance.

“Anti-Semitic attacks like the recent terrorist attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris pose a threat that extends beyond the Jewish community,” he said. “They also threaten the values we hold dear — pluralism, diversity, and the freedoms of religion and expression.

Power said she was “pleased” with Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador Abdallah Al-Moualimi’s statement that Islamic countries condemn all words and acts that led “to hatred, anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia.”

Al-Moualimi spoke to the gathering on behalf of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Power rejected Al-Moualimi’s calling Israel’s occupation of the West Bank “an anti-Semitic act” that “threatens humankind” and is linked to hate crimes and anti-Semitism, among other outcomes.

“We condemn any statements that drift into anti-Semitism. Anything that would suggest there’s a justification for anti-Semitism, we reject,” she said.

Despite the contretemps, Powers called the meeting “an important step” in enlisting the world community in combatting anti-Semitism.

Ira Forman, the administration’s special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, said on the call that the United States is in “an ongoing conversation” with its allies about security for Jewish communities.

“You can’t put Europe in one box. Each has a different security situation,” he said,

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