Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with Bayit Yehudi chief Naftali Bennett.
(photo credit: TWITTER / TAL SCHNEIDER)
Jewish communal and organization leaders are set to gather together with Israeli and foreign politicians in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening for the opening of the Foreign Ministry’s biennial Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism.
This year’s event, organized in conjunction with the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, will mark the fifth time that Jerusalem has convened anti-Semitism experts from around the globe to discuss best practices and share information over a threeday period.
While 2013’s gathering was promoted as not just “a conference of speeches” by officials, who emphasized the goal of formulating an action plan for combating anti-Semitism, some critics, including past high-profile attendees, have said that not much concrete action is expected to come out of the conference.
According to the Foreign Ministry, more than 1,000 experts will be in attendance, including the heads of the Anti-Defamation League; Simon Wiesenthal Center; American Jewish Committee; Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France; the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; B’nai B’rith; World Jewish Congress; and the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy.
Other attendees are scheduled to include the justice ministers of Germany and Romania, the education minister of Bulgaria, the mayor of Paris, and the minister of state for multiculturalism from Canada.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett are also set to attend the event.
A panel comprised of Muslim leaders from Europe will convene at the gathering to discuss interfaith and tolerance, and “special emphasis will be placed on coping effectively with the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, the Internet and the social media,” the ministry said.
Other working groups will take a look at anti-Semitism in the Muslim and Arab world; anti-Semitism in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; anti-Semitism in the guise of delegitimization and anti-Zionism; and law, legislation and enforcement in combating anti-Semitism.
A message will be delivered on behalf of United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon.
The United States will be represented by State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ira Forman.
The choice of speakers at the last global forum generated some controversy, with ADL national chairman Abe Foxman stating that officials from Hungary, Ireland and Greece should not have been invited to give opening speeches.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post in 2013, he said that while the foreign officials “needed to be invited,” he was “uncomfortable with them keynoting the conference.”
Reacting to statements by the Foreign Ministry asserting that the 2013 conference would be geared toward action rather than talk, Foxman said at the time that while “you can always find more things that you can do,” he has attended enough conferences where “there is an action plan and there is a commitment [and] then people go back and do what they are doing.”
Speaking to the Post again on Sunday shortly after his arrival in Israel for this week’s conference, Foxman said that Europeans “have to change the way they are managing and monitoring everyday society.”
The Jewish communities, he continued, are watching how their governments respond to see if their societies are “willing to fight for their freedom and liberty.”
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