(photo credit: REUTERS)
Anti-Semitism is not only the oldest hatred, it is also the most enduring, former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler said on a panel on the subject at Sunday’s Jerusalem Post Conference in Manhattan.
The panel was called “The Alarming Rise of Global Anti-Semitism: A Rapidly Gathering Storm,” using a term coined by World War II British prime minister Winston Churchill for the rise of Nazi Germany. Moderated by World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer, it included Cotler, US Special Envoy of the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ira Forman, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum director Sara Bloomfield, and New York University School of Law senior fellow Thane Rosenbaum.
Cotler said he recently testified before the UN and the Canadian parliament, where he remains an MP, about four metrics for the new anti-Semitism, which he said are an assault on the right of Israel to remain part of the family of nations or exist at all. He said there is genocidal anti-Semitism, such as terrorist attacks; demonological anti-Semitism, whose mantra is that Israel is the root of all evil; political anti-Semitism, which aims to deny only the Jews the right to self determination; and finally masking anti-Semitism under universal values.
In the final category, Cotler placed the attacks on Israel at the United Nations, where he said the UN condemns Israel 20 times a year and all other countries combined only four.
“Anti-Semitism is being laundered under the struggle against racism,” Cotler said.
“The worst thing anyone can say about anyone is they are racist. Apartheid is defined as a crime against humanity. To say Israel is an apartheid state is to say it has no right to be, and the international community has an obligation to ensure it has no right to be.”
Forman spoke about the dangers of anti-Semitism in Paris, Copenhagen, Buenos Aires, and Turkey. He noted that in Turkey there has been a television show that accuses Jews of a worldwide plot against the country, including non-Jewish Charles Darwin as a Jew in the plot. Forman said it would be funny were it not sad.
“If current negative trends continue, certain Jewish communities in Europe that were around 500 years or even 2,500 years will be gone,” he said. “This is a tragedy.”
Forman lamented that, unlike the struggle for Prisoners of Zion when there was one central address at the Kremlin, it is now necessary to confront dozens of countries.
Rosenbaum said Europe is starting to realize it has an Islamic problem, but lamented that rather than confront Islamic anti-Semitism it is “leading from behind.”
“All of Europe is appalled by the incredible acts of barbarism committed under the name of Islam,” he said.
“European leaders understand that the enemies of Jews are enemies of western civilization.”
Bloomfield said Adolf Hitler counted on the natural human tendency toward apathy.
She said Zionist leader Theodore Herzl understood anti-Semitism as a societal problem that could only be solved by a state.
She said that in a globalized world the power of states is diminishing and the power of individuals is on the rise, so solutions from governments may not be enough. But she said she is encouraged by large protests against anti-Semitism that were attended by non- Jews in huge numbers.
“This is an alarming moment, but a time of great fear requires real discernment,” Bloomfield said.
“Fighting anti-Semitism will not be easy, and the task will never end, but there are six million reasons why we can never give up.”