Leaders of the U.S. State Department 2011 Hours Against Hate campaign—a call to stop bigotry and promote respect across cultures, religions, traditions, classes and genders—came to GW April 29 for a town hall hosted by the Elliott School of International Affairs.
Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal and Special Representative to Muslim Communities Farah Pandith joined Tad Stahnke, director of policy and programs at Human Rights First, at GW’s Jack Morton Auditorium for a discussion on the campaign’s efforts to combat discrimination and hatred against Jews, Muslims and other ethnic groups. The event was moderated by GW Assistant Professor of Religion Irene Oh, director of GW’s Peace Studies Program.
Ms. Rosenthal and Ms. Pandith spoke about why they began the global campaign, which officially launched at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna on Feb. 17.
“This is about deeds, not just words,” said Ms. Rosenthal. “The theory of the campaign is to encourage young people to pledge hours to serve and volunteer at an organization that serves people that don’t look like you, pray like you and live like you.”
Ms. Rosenthal and Ms. Pandith recently traveled to Azerbaijan, Turkey and Spain to promote the campaign, and said the younger generations have embraced the campaign’s message online.
“It was the younger people that fled forward and moved their ideas and their interests online, so if you go on our Facebook page, you can see campaigns started at universities, NGOs and young people taking [the message] and making it their own,” said Ms. Pandith. “And they are doing this because they do not want to live in a world where there is not mutual respect.”
The panelists also played a video message from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who urged the audience to “stand up and speak out against hate.”
“It’s time for action,” she said. “Let’s join together, seize this moment and chart this new course for the future. We can only do it if we do it together.”
Dr. Oh said educational institutions should urge students to bring outside lessons into the classroom to enhance class discussion and promote tolerance. “Working with and for people who are different from us toward shared goals is one of the best ways for us to end discrimination that worsens unnecessary conflict in this world,” she said.