Israeli leaders went on the offensive against anti-Zionism on Tuesday during
speeches at the opening session of the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism
in Jerusalem, conflating it with Jew-hatred and defining it as the contemporary
manifestation of classical anti-Semitism.
According to Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu, anti-Semitism is “becoming fashionable again.”
his pre-taped address, which opened the gathering, Netanyahu said that despite
the fact that “anti-Semites took a respite after the Holocaust,” such sentiment
was again becoming socially acceptable.
There was only a “brief
intermission,” Netanyahu said, noting that he believed that anti-Zionism was
inseparable from anti-Semitism.
“After the rise of Israel, what is
fashionable today is to say ‘well I don’t hate Jews, I just don’t think they
should have a state,’” the prime minister remarked, calling on delegates to
“fight and win the battle for truth.”
More than 500 delegates
representing Jewish communities, civil society organizations and governments
from over 50 nations were present for the opening session of the forum,
according to the Foreign Ministry’s Gideon Behar, who chaired the
Netanyahu’s sentiments were echoed by Diaspora Affairs Minister
Naftali Bennett and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, both of whom gave
opening remarks at the conference.
Delegitimization of the State of
Israel, Bennett said, is always a prerequisite for physical attacks against the
Jews. The “phase of dehumanization” came before the Holocaust, and “that’s the
exact same M.O. today,” he said, in a reference to the Iranian
Calling the Islamic Republic a “modern Haman,” referencing the
villain of the Purim story, Bennett said he considered the fight against the
delegitimization of Israel an even bigger fight than the one he faces when he is
called up for reserve duty as a combat soldier in the IDF.
That is “our
biggest task,” he said.
Moreover, the Bayit Yehudi leader declared,
“modern anti-Semitism is being anti- Israel.”
While the world “should
absolutely criticize” Israel as it is “far from perfect,” Bennett said, it
should be remembered that Israel is “the only pillar of democracy in an ocean of
radical Islam that is out to wipe out the world.”
Elkin voiced his
agreement with Netanyahu and Bennett, saying “blaming the collective Jew” as
represented by Israel, “for all that is wrong” is a serious issue that needs be
Stating that anti-Semitism is “foremost the problem of
societies in which it is allowed to manifest itself,” Elkin called on world
governments to “adopt a zero tolerance approach to anti-
Konstantinos Karagounis, Greek deputy minister of justice,
transparency and human rights, also took up the refrain, saying that despite the
rise of the far right in his country, among others, anti-Semitism that
“masquerades as anti-Israel” sentiment is of “greater
Addressing those who would say that they have “no problem with
Jews but a problem with Israel,” Karagounis said that they were “on the wrong
side of things.”
Holocaust denial, he said, “should be criminalized,”
asserting that the Greek government is endeavoring to deal with the issue. He
predicted that in the end the issue will be “uniformly solved across
Despite applause from the crowd, not all attendees were happy
with the Greek minister’s remarks.