The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, sang: “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find out what it means to me!” This song is an anthem for anyone who has ever felt marginalized or minimized. Every human being craves respect – the opportunity to earn a decent living, raise his family, and contribute to her community.
This week, I became a grandfather for the first time to a beautiful little girl. Baby Amit was born on March 8, International Women’s Day. As I held her for the first time, I thought about all the opportunities that I want her to have – to grow up and grow old, to love and be loved, to dream big and have the chance to realize her dreams.
Seventy-five years ago, at the dawn of the Second World War, Europe was locked in the grip of tyranny. Hitler’s Reich had already conquered huge swaths of Europe and the shadow of oppression grew day by day as the Nazis subjugated, devastated, and exterminated anyone they deemed different and inferior.
If Martin Niemöller, the German pastor who bravely spoke out against the Nazis, were alive today, I imagine that he would write: ‘First they attacked the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. Then they attacked freedom of religion, but I was not religious and so I did not speak out. Then they attacked the press, but I was not a journalist and so I did not speak out. Then they attacked freedom of speech and expression, but there was no one left to speak for me, because there were no freedoms left.’
Today we commemorate 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz. Primo Levi, an Italian Jew
who survived Auschwitz wrote, “I am constantly amazed by man’s inhumanity to man.” The Holocaust was an age of atrocity and an age of impunity. In the years that followed, people believed that we grew more civilized and sensitized - that atrocities would not befall us again. But then there was Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, and Bosnia.
I stand before the world as a proud representative of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. I stand tall before you knowing that truth and morality are on my side. And yet, I stand here knowing that today in this Assembly, truth will be turned on its head and morality cast aside.
Our shared duty to protect one another is reflected in a long historical and moral tradition that
dates back millennia and spans cultures and continents. Jewish tradition teaches ואהבת לרעך כמוך to ‘love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ The Christian faith teaches the responsibility to assist others in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Islam teaches אָחיבָּא ליאָח'יקָא מָא תוּחיבָּא לינָפסיקָא or ‘Wish for your brother, what you wish for yourself.’
Every morning as we flip on the television or scroll through the headlines, we are overwhelmed by stories of terrorism – 49 people taken hostage in Mosul; the gunman who opened fire at the Jewish Museum of Brussels; hundreds of girls kidnapped from their school in northern Nigeria; a mall overrun by militants in Nairobi; tourists targeted by a suicide bomber in Bulgaria, and the list goes on and on.
What began as peaceful protests against an authoritarian regime almost three years ago has turned into a brutal and protracted conflict that has claimed over 130,000 lives. Death has become a way of life for the Syrian people.
I, Ron Prosor, the son of Uri Prosor who fled Nazi Germany, stand before you tall and proud as a representative of the Jewish nation in the Family of Nations. When my father fled Berlin in 1936, the world wavered on the brink of war - the League of Nations was unable to unite the world and stop Nazi Germany from casting its dark shadow over Europe.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy said, “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie...but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” This is the third year that I am standing before this Assembly to address this agenda item and once again, I experience a sense of déjà vu as I listen to a distortion of history. The greatest legends of Greek mythology cannot rival the fables and fabrications that have come to be associated with this debate.
Winston Churchill once said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist
sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” No one would argue that the countries of Africa have had more than their fair share of difficulties. Despite their many challenges, the continent is rich in talent, energy and hope – the building blocks needed to unlock the continent’s vast potential.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people, mostly women and children are trafficked across borders worldwide. This is a crime of humanity towards humanity. The trafficking of human beings has no place in a civilized world. It should outrage every person because it debases our fellow human beings. It should outrage every community because it erodes societies. And it should outrage every nation because it funds organized crime and threatens public safety.