Lieberman with flag 248 88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])
"To be anti-Israel is to be anti-Semitic," Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein declared in a bitter, emotional speech to the opening session of the 2009 Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism Conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
"To boycott Israel, Israeli professors and Israeli businesses, these are not political acts, these are acts of hate, acts of anti-Semitism," the minister raged. "Anti-Israel hysteria is anti-Semitic hysteria. They are one and the same."
Urging the hundreds of participants in the two-day gathering, the third such annual event organized by the Foreign Ministry, to dedicate themselves to the cause of eradicating anti-Semitism, the minister detailed the pernicious process by which, he said, the attack on Jews had been reframed since World War II into an attack on Israel. The goal was identical, he said: to assault the perceived core of Jewish life.
"Where Jews were once depicted as bloodthirsty, stingy, morally corrupt baby-killers, after the horrors of World War II these depictions of Jews are hard for many to stomach. So the attack has been reframed and reworded," he said.
"There are no more Jews. Instead there are Israelis. Israeli soldiers kill babies. Israeli soldiers attack pregnant mothers. Israelis started wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Israel as a nation was not put through a Holocaust. Israelis have not been expelled, converted, exiled and enslaved. So if you attack Israel, you are not picking on the weak. Anti-Semites have warped tiny Israel into Goliath. This way you can hate Israel, you can hate Israelis, and you are not called anti-Semitic. Beyond having a license to hate, you may be violent, breach the peace, and oppress human rights - as long you loathe the State of Israel," Edelstein said.
The minister said he was not aware of a more irrational and illogical argument contained in a single sentence than the one he heard time and again when traveling abroad: "The Palestinians are a people and therefore deserve a state; the Jews are a people, and therefore should not be allowed to have a state."
Speaking at the same event, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said "classic anti-Semitism, along with Iranian funding and Islamic anti-Semitism, is being used to incite hatred against Jews, and to delegitimize the State of Israel."
He said global anti-Semitism had "crossed the line," and that those behind the effort were "seeking to destroy the Jewish state piece by piece... using academic boycotts and economic sanctions."
Lieberman also spoke of efforts by human rights groups "to deny Israel legitimacy by pushing the United Nations Security Council to adopt the Goldstone Report," which accused Israel of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during last winter's Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
Echoing Edelstein, Lieberman declared that modern anti-Semitism "has taken on the form of being anti-Israel... Instead of saying 'throw the Jews into the sea,' they talk of a world without Zionism, and without Israel."
Referring to Iran, Lieberman added that the Islamic republic "denies the Holocaust, calls for the destruction of Israel, and is trying to achieve nuclear capability. These efforts remind us of [the Nazis] 70 years ago."
More than 500 participants are attending the conference at Jerusalem's Crowne Plaza Hotel, with delegations comprising diplomats, academics and policy makers present from the United States, Germany, France, Hungary, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Venezuela and Argentina.
Benjamin Weinthal contributed to this report.