Special Envoy Hannah Rosenthal today said the United States is committed to combat hate and intolerance.
In her remarks at the 4th Annual Interfaith Dinner and Dialogue for U.S. religious leaders, Ms. Rosenthal said amid the portrayal of ethnic and religious violence in the news, the world must not forget, in the words of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that “religious tolerance is one of the essential elements not only of a sustainable democracy but of a peaceful society.”
“Religious freedom is a fundamental right enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and therefore must be respected by all governments. Moreover, it is in government’s interest to respect religious freedom.” -Ms. Rosenthal
She stated that religion often teaches respect for the rights and dignity of each individual. She said religious freedom and tolerance are integral for building stable and harmonious societies, and this means freedom for all people of all faiths or beliefs, including those who do not believe in any religion.
She noted that when governments unduly restrict religious freedom and freedom of expression, or when societies fail to take steps to promote tolerance and curb discrimination based on religious identity, they risk alienating religious believers and emboldening extremists.
She said she is honored to serve as the President’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
“I am charged with monitoring anti-Semitic incidents and combating such intolerance. But the truth is, I am in the relationship building business. I am here today because it is imperative that we work together. We stand for rights of all peoples, regardless of ethnicity or religious background. We share the same mission: to combat hate and intolerance to create a more peaceful and just world.” -Ms. Rosenthal
During the Kazakhstan Tolerance conference, Ms. Rosenthal hosted a side event called “The ART Initiative.” “The ART Initiative” stands for Acceptance, Respect, and Tolerance. The overall goal of the ART Initiative is to present successful and easily adaptable approaches to combat intolerance and discrimination by involving interfaith, inter-ethnic youth and young adults.
The U.S. government launched “2011 Hours Against Hate. “A virtual campaign, “2011 Hours Against Hate” focuses on youth, using ways that they like to communicate, through social media. The whole initiative is on Facebook and Twitter. The campaign’s success was so great and so widespread that we have decided to extend “2011 Hours Against Hate” into 2012.
Ms. Rosenthal noted that since the beginning of humankind, hate has been around, but since then too, good people of all faiths and backgrounds have striven to combat it.
“The Jewish tradition tells us that “you are not required to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it.” -Ms. Rosenthal
She stressed that the world must confront and combat the many forms of hatred in the world today. She said where there is hatred born of ignorance, the world must teach and inspire.
“Where there is hatred whipped up by irresponsible leaders, we must call them out and answer as strongly as we can and make their message totally unacceptable to all people of conscience.” -Ms. Rosenthal