The Knesset .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel’s efforts to combat anti-Semitism and BDS worldwide fall short and must be better coordinated, MK Abraham Naguise (Likud) announced during a meeting with Jewish organizations on Tuesday.
Speaking during a session of the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee, which he chairs, Naguise called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to create a body to better coordinate the efforts of the Foreign, Strategic Affairs and Diaspora Ministries.
The three government departments share responsibility for the two related issues and must work together more closely, he told The Jerusalem Post after the meeting.
“We are talking too much about fighting anti-Semitism and BDS. It is time now to act. In order to act we need to unify the power, the energy, the different organizations, governmental and non-governmental,” he said.
Describing a need for “coordination of action,” Naguise said that he will call upon the prime minister to set up a committee composed of the director-generals of the relevant ministries, to be headed by the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, that will orchestrate their activities as well as those of interested NGOs.
“If we coordinate and we bring together all the organizations – governmental and non-governmental – we can overcome this challenge,” he said.
Representatives of several organizations dealing with anti-Semitism who were present at the meeting, such as the New York-based Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy, agreed that a new, more coordinated approach is needed.
Naguise has “identified an urgent need,” said institute director Dr. Charles Small.
“I thought that was a good initiative,” agreed former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler, a vocal advocate for Israel, saying that he approved of the idea of linking the government to “civil society NGOs in Israel and extending that to the Diaspora.”
“Of course, there must be a need for more coordination among all institutions, organizations, ministries of the government who deal with anti-Semitism and BDS, and we think that regarding the issue of anti-Semitism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a leading role to play in combating anti-Semitism,” said Gideon Behar, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Department for Combating Antisemitism, citing the existence of the Ministry’s Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism.
That gathering, which takes place every two years in Jerusalem, brings together Jewish organizations, foreign politicians and representatives of the Israeli government, and features several working groups which communicate between the biennial forum’s events.
However, Diaspora Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Ariella Friedman stated that she was unsure of the utility of such a plan, as her ministry currently coordinates a forum that incorporates representatives of the Foreign, Strategic Affairs and Justice Ministries as well as the Prime Minister’s Office, to deal with anti-Semitism.
BDS, however, is a separate issue that is not dealt with by the group, she said.
Uri Perednik, a spokesman for Naguise, said that this is precisely the MK’s concern and that Naguise believes BDS and anti-Semitism are frequently intertwined and need to be addressed in a holistic manner.
Perednik further added that he wondered why Diaspora Minister Naftali Bennett had never mentioned the existence of this forum when briefing the Diaspora Committee regarding his activities. He added that he believed such a group would be better off under the chairmanship of a representative of Netanyahu, rather than a subordinate minister.