Antisemitic acts in US gain attention of Netanyahu, other Israeli leaders

For the third time in a week, Netanyahu expressed appreciation to US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for taking a “strong stance in condemning antisemitism.”

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March 1, 2017 22:09
4 minute read.
Swastika and "Seig Heil 2016" graffiti

Swastika and "Seig Heil 2016" graffiti found in South Philly. (photo credit: ADL PHILIDELPHIA)

Israeli leaders are increasingly speaking out against the rise in antisemitic incidents in the US, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who came under some criticism for not publicly commenting on the matter – saying on Wednesday that antisemitism is alive and world leaders need to clearly condemn it.

“Antisemitism certainly has not disappeared, but there is much we can do to fight back,” he said in a video message to a conference of the Jewish People Policy Institute being held in Jerusalem. “World leaders need to unequivocally condemn antisemitism wherever it is found.”

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For the third time in a week, Netanyahu expressed appreciation to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for taking a “strong stance in condemning antisemitism.”
Netanyahu praises Trump's condemnation of anti-Semitic acts (credit: REUTERS)

“This is what we expect too from European leaders, most of them have done it and this is what we must demand from governments around the world, because Jews around the world should not live in fear,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu, who was scheduled to address the conference in person, canceled at the last minute, saying in the video that he was “a bit under the weather” as a result of his trip to Australia and Singapore which “[took] a toll on my vocal cords and my sinuses.”

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid also addressed the issue at the conference saying, “From here, from Jerusalem, we say ‘Enough.’” According to Lapid, “The days in which the Jewish people hid from antisemitism are over. We will face it together.”

Jews “won’t hide anymore, Jews won’t be scared anymore, and we expect the governments of the world to fight antisemitism decisively and with all their might” he said, stressing that the Jewish people must engaged in an “open, brave, incisive” dialogue led by Israel.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog noted at the conference that both Israeli and Jewish leaders elsewhere are walking on eggshells out of respect to the Trump administration, but “the administration must deal with it.”

“These are scenes which are very worrying and painful. It requires special awareness in JCCs and synagogues,” he told The Jerusalem Post later.

“I am confident the Trump administration will deal with it forcefully... The US Jewish community is strong and well organized and I trust they will overcome this wave.”

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky also spoke out Wednesday in a statement on the subject.

Expressing deep concern over the wave of antisemitic attacks and threats that have swept the US, Sharansky called for unity.

“If ever there was a line between the antisemitism of the far Right and the anti-Israelism of the radical Left, the demonization of Jews and the demonization of their state, it no longer exists,” he said in the statement.

“These two ugly phenomena feed on one another and both run counter to the foundations of democratic societies in Europe and America,” he continued.

“It is high time that all who hold democratic values dear put their political differences aside and band together to combat these expressions of hatred and violence.”

Sharansky expressed faith that US authorities will “act resolutely” to find the perpetrators, bring them to justice and prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

Meanwhile, Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett said that the responsibility for security of the citizens lies with the respective states in which they live.

“We understand the fears among communities and the feeling of people who experienced such acts,” Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said in a special plenum discussion in the Knesset on the matter.

“We send from here our deepest support to them and we are in touch with these communities. But the bottom line is that the responsibility of the personal security of the citizens is from their governments. We call on them to find the perpetrators and to put them on trial.”

A request for further comment from Bennett regarding what the ministry was doing on the subject was not met by press time, but the Post learned that the minister met with leadership of the Jewish Federations of North America on Wednesday to discuss the situation.

MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) called on all Israelis to show their support for the Jewish community in the US and on the government to start acting on this matter.

“There is a worrying rise in attacks and on threats on Jewish centers all over the US... Every community that is under attack should receive the protection of the Israeli government. This is also our responsibility as the citizens of Israel – Jews and Muslims alike – to defend the Jewish community in the US,” he said.

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) faulted the government for not doing enough to condemn acts of that type and called that insufficiency a “moral failure.”

“For some reason – different than incidents in the past – we see indifference toward antisemitism here in the Jewish state,” she said. “I don’t know if it is because [the government] are cautious with the new president or they fear to annoy anyone.”

“However, this is our responsibility,” she added.

“Israel’s voice must be heard, in diplomatic ways and also under the radar. If we won’t act quickly, vandalizing cemeteries will soon [escalate to] hurting people’s lives.”


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