'International community should criminalize double standards against Israel as anti-Semitism'

Former foreign ministry legal advisor Alan Baker makes call in text of draft international convention.

May 12, 2015 20:55
3 minute read.
iran israel

Iranian students hold anti-Israeli placards and Iranian flags during a rally outside the former US embassy in Tehran in 2009. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The international community should criminalize anti-Semitism and establish a multilateral body to monitor it, former Ministry of Foreign Affairs legal adviser Amb. Alan Baker asserted on Monday in the text of a draft international convention being promoted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

In 2013 Baker, who heads the think tank’s Institute for Contemporary Affairs, drafted a similar document banning inciting terrorism, which was promoted at the United Nations by former Israeli UN envoy Dore Gold but which does not seem to have gained much traction.

“The international community has never considered criminalizing anti-Semitism as an international crime, in a manner similar to the criminalization of genocide, racism, piracy, hostage-taking, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and terror,” Baker wrote in the introduction to the document, adding that one might have expected it do so in light of the recent wave of anti-Semitism that has swept Europe.

The lack of coordinated action on this matter is “clearly a vast international injustice,” he wrote, stating that his draft accord is intended to “universally criminalize anti-Semitism within the world community.”

According to Baker, any manifestation of anti-Semitism that results in violence or is meant to incite violence should be considered a crime under international law. He defined anti-Semitism as consisting of several phenomena, including Holocaust denial; expressions of hostility or demonstrations of violence toward Jews individually or as a religious, ethnic or racial collective; the use of “sinister stereotypes” and conspiracy theories “charging Jews with conspiring to harm humanity” and justifying the killing or harming of Jews.

The application of double standards against Israel “requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” and the vilification of Israeli leaders through comparisons to the Nazis are likewise manifestations of anti-Semitism, Baker averred.

He also took issue with those who use developments in the Middle East to justify attacks on Jews abroad, an apparent reaction to people like a German judge who recently ruled that an arson attack on a synagogue in Wuppertal by two Arabs was not anti-Semitic but rather motivated by a desire to bring “attention to the Gaza conflict.”

Aside from obligating signatories to promote educational programs for combating anti-Semitism and remembering the Holocaust, the draft convention would also establish an International anti-Semitism Monitoring Forum which would serve as a clearinghouse for national anti-Semitism statistics and would assist member states in preparing legislation banning anti-Semitism.

Both Europe and the United States have come under fire for their allegedly insufficient monitoring mechanisms.

Speaking with the Jerusalem Post last year, Anti-Defamation League national chairman Abe Foxman said that “there is no serious monitoring by continental entities” and that governments are “not doing their job, they’re not monitoring.”

Anti-Semitic violence rose by nearly 40 percent in 2014 over the previous year, according to a report by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University released last month.

A total of 766 violent incidents were recorded worldwide, a "sharp increase" over the 554 tallied in 2013, according to the European Jewish Congress, which contributed to the report.

According to Baker, combating anti-Semitism requires its own treaty and structures unrelated to the general work of tackling racism because “by its very nature, with anti-Semitism’s long, bitter, and never-ending history, and its propensity to constantly re-appear in modern forms and contexts, it cannot and should not be equated with, linked to, or treated as any other form of racial discrimination.”

He condemned efforts within the international community to equate anti-Semitism with Islamophobia, calling hatred of Jews “a unique, sui generis phenomenon that must be dealt with independently.”

Earlier this year Jewish organizations worldwide expressed shock and dismay following the announcement that the European Commission is planning on holding a conference that implies an equivalence between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

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