On June 19, 2023, the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Morocco to the UN and the UN Office of the Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention (OSAPG) hosted a high-level UN side event titled “It Begins with Words and Each of us: Effective Action to Counter Hate Speech.” Leah Pisar addressed the international participants, showcasing Project Aladdin’s longstanding experience in tackling hate speech.
Highlighting the dangers of mounting antisemitism, islamophobia, and intolerance of diverse identities, she drew upon the personal experience of her father and Project Aladdin’s co-founder, Samuel Pisar, who was one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz. His lifelong dedication to human coexistence and peace was sparked during the beginnings of his career, at the United Nations, and his message of resisting and combatting hate speech remains as pertinent as ever nearly 80 years after the Holocaust. Particularly in this time of geopolitical uncertainty, pandemics, and weaponized disinformation, a “virus of hate” has re-emerged, which cannot be allowed to permeate the fabric of our society. Rather, an attack on one minority should be considered an attack on all, and all should rush to the defense of victims of intolerance.
Leah Pisar emphasized that Project Aladdin works with young people, students, academics, civil society leaders, and decision-makers, under the maxim “if I want you to listen to me, I must first listen to you.” Drawing attention to the upcoming International University for Intercultural Leadership — the flagship program celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year — she showed how Project Aladdin organizes events, conferences with ministers of education, gatherings of religious leaders, and more all over the world. She continued by referencing the seminal work Know the Religion of Thy Neighbor, a book developed through Project Aladdin’s interfaith committee to guide students, clerics, and practitioners of the Abrahamic religions to understand and value each other’s creed. Furthermore, she drew attention to a new project, “Sport against Hate”, which will utilize the vector of football to promote messages of tolerance to disaffected youth. Finally, she presented the Tangier Dialogue, Project Aladdin’s annual conference in Tangier, Morocco, in partnership with the Morocco Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UNAOC, which aims to give rise to a new, shared enlightenment between the people and cultures of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
She closed her remarks by praising and thanking the participants for their hard work and continuing efforts to fight hate speech, noting that “our differences and our diversity are the very reason we are here, along with the recognition that there is more that unites us than sets us apart.”