Hannah Rosenthal: “Confront the fear you have from the other”

21.11.2011 | 12:50 | simon INOU

Washington D.C., November 7, 2011 – Attending the US State Department Summit on “Promoting social Cohesion through Broadcast Media” implemented by the Meridian International, we interviewed Mrs. Hannah Rosenthal, the Special Envoy and the head of Office To Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism of the Obama Administration.

M-MEDIA: In your speech you spoke about the new way of combating Hate. Could you please explain it again to our readers?

Hannah Rosenthal: Absolutely. Let me give you an example. I have been observing an increase of people saying the holocaust did not happen. It is like killing my family twice. To combat those views we do not only need Jewish people but also people from other religious beliefs. It is the same thing if we would like to combat Islamophobia. We do not only need Muslims but the entire society and people from other beliefs. It would have much more impact if Muslims religious leaders condemn the holocaust than when I, as a Jew do.

What about Europe?

When I travel to Europe and I come back to the US to report to the State Department, The White House and to the civil society, I do not only report on Anti-Semitism. They expect me, as the special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism to talk about. And I do. But I always say the hatred against Muslims is more violent in my observation than the other forms of hatred right know, for example the hatred against Gays, Roma, Jews and the others. In Europe the face of the hatred is the Muslim face. So when I speak about that it has more impact than when the Imam did. I think that is our duty to bring change of views of what we do…

We should not only condemn but we should act if we would like to change the situation. What and How?

Xenophobia; the hatred of the other. Hatred is actually overwhelming in Europe. It is not good enough to just condemn hatred speeches. To do something means to take some kind of action where you confront that fear you have from the other. We ask some people to give one hour of their time to go to community they would not, otherwise go to. If you are a Muslim go and help in a Jewish community; if you are Jew engage yourself for instance into the Baha’i or Muslim or other Communities. Go and take some helping actions in communities that you normally would not get in touch with. It means I recognise, that I have some resposibilities. It has to happen in Classrooms, in Synagogue, in Mosque, etc… but also with individuals getting to know each other. With this action we build relationships and by example we say to young people “you do not have to be an ambassador to go to talk to a foreign minister of a country. you can volunteer in a neighbourhood you have never been before”. It is actually really successfull. Fighting against hatred is not only going to change through laws but also through statements, actions, at the fundamental personal level.

Many thanks Mrs. Rosenthal

You are welcome.


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