Senior diplomatic officials took sharp issue on
Monday with Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli
Edelstein for referring to the Goldstone Commission report as
"anti-Semitic," and for saying a connection should be drawn between the
document and International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
connection between the Goldstone Report and the international Holocaust
memorial day is not an easy thing," Edelstein said in an interview with
Ynet news before leaving for a United Nations meeting marking
International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday.
"On the other hand, however, we must learn the lessons from
what happened. Then, too, those who called out were told that Hitler is
a clown and that all the gloomy predictions of the 1930s were nonsense.
"On the Holocaust memorial day of all days, which also marks
the battle against global anti-Semitism, we must discuss this
connection, because today the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces are
accused of harvesting organs, murdering children and raping women."
According to Edelstein, "After World War II and the
establishment of the State of Israel, anti-Semitism is not directed at
Jews but at Israel and the Israelis. The Goldstone Report, the
publications [in Sweden] about organ harvesting and similar reports,
are simply a type of anti-Semitism."
Senior government officials, however, warned that drawing
connections between the Goldstone Commission report and the Holocaust
diminishes the Holocaust and provides Israel's enemies right-of-way to
use Holocaust imagery to bash Israel."Not
everything is connected," one official said. "If you make any
comparison between Goldstone and the Holocaust, you will lose the
argument; no one will want to hear anymore. You free the other side
from having to deal with your legitimate arguments."
Furthermore, he said, it would be counterproductive in the
long-term to use the Holocaust in a political argument because then
legitimacy would be given to Israel's enemies to use Holocaust imagery
against Israel, as when they say the IDF employs "Nazi tactics" against
Another senior official said that it was one thing to say that
efforts to delegitimize Israel were anti-Semitic, but quite another to
draw analogies with the Holocaust.
It was not clear on Monday to what extent, if any, Israel's
leaders - President Shimon Peres, who will be speaking at the Bundestag
in Berlin on Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who will
speak at a ceremony commemorating the 65th anniversary of the
liberation of Auschwitz, or Foreign Ministry Avigdor Lieberman, who
will attend a ceremony in Budapest - would make reference to the
Nevertheless, one source in the Prime Minister's Office said
that Netanyahu has been careful since the release of the report on
September 15 not to call South African jurist Richard Goldstone, who is
Jewish, an anti-Semite.
Likewise, the Foreign Ministry, whose various spokesmen have
said over the past few months that the document could lead to a rise in
anti-Semitism, have not hurled the anti-Semite epithet at Goldstone or
However, at Sunday's cabinet meeting Jewish Agency Chairman
Natan Sharansky defined anti-Israel criticism as anti-Semitic, if it
met what he called the "3-D" criteria: demonization, deligitimization
and a double standard.
According to that criteria, one senior source in the Prime
Minister's Office said, there were undoubtedly anti-Semitic elements in
the Goldstone Report.
Edelstein was quoted by Ynet news as saying the report was
anti-Semitic, and was expected to bring up the matter in talks on
Monday in New York with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Even though Edelstein holds the tile of "public diplomacy
minister," Foreign Ministry officials made clear they have neither
received, nor given, directives to begin referring to the Goldstone
Report as anti-Semitic, or to draw any kind of parallels between it and
acts that lead up to the Holocaust.
In a related matter, Netanyahu, in an apparent reference to
Iran, said at a ceremony at Yad Vashem on Monday that there was "a new
Jew hatred in our midst. "There are new calls for the extermination of
the Jewish state," he said, adding that the international community was
being tested now "as seldom before" since the end of the Holocaust.
"It is tested today whether it will stand up to the truth, to
the evidence of evil, to the design of mass murder," the prime minister
said. "This is a test of humanity. This is a test of mankind and we
shall see in the coming weeks and months how the international
community lives up to its responsibility to stop evil before it spreads
Netanyahu was at Yad Vashem for the opening of an exhibit that
includes the original blueprints for the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp,
blueprints he received on visit to Germany last year.