Swastika grafitti 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Foreign diplomats, Jewish communal heads and representatives of nongovernmental
organizations from over 50 nations will convene in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening
for the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, to formulate what the Foreign
Ministry terms a “concrete action plan” to “combat anti-Semitism’s growing
The conference is a joint venture of the Foreign and Diaspora
This year’s three-day meeting, the first meeting of
the GFCA since 2009, will not be “a conference of speeches,” Gideon Behar,
director of the Foreign Ministry’s Department for Combating Anti-Semitism, told
The Jerusalem Post
“Many people feel that we need to adopt a
different approach in tackling anti-Semitism,” he explained, noting that critics
have complained that “we are too much into talking.”
As such, he said,
the “conference is geared toward action.”
There will be 10 working
groups, each with a different focus, and Behar hopes that the participants,
aside from contributing to the conference’s final document, an “Action Plan for
Combating Anti-Semitism 2013 and Beyond,” will continue to work together between
Among the issues on the table at the event will be the
defense of both traditional circumcision and ritual slaughter, which have come
under increasing attack in Europe.
The action plan “will not be a
theoretical document, but a real blueprint for action,” Behar wrote.
working groups will focus on issues such as anti-Semitism in the Muslim and Arab
world and in the former Soviet Union and anti-Semitism in the guise of
In a letter to participants, Diaspora Affairs Minister
Naftali Bennett and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin asserted that while
Israel is at the forefront of the effort to combat anti-Semitism,
“responsibility lies with the leadership of every state in which anti-Semitism
Among those in attendance will be representatives of the
Muslim communities of the UK and Albania, whose participation Behar sees as
There are “many millions of moderates Muslims and
Arabs in the world,” and it is “very important” that Israel engage in “building
bridges with the Muslim world,” he said.
Several countries that have come
under fire from Jewish groups will be represented, such as Ireland, Greece and
Israel boycott efforts by Irish unions have alienated many Jews,
while anti-Semitic political parties have seen rapid growth in Hungary and
A Canadian representative of the International Holocaust
Remembrance Alliance will be one of the opening speakers at the
Senior officials from Ireland, Greece, Lithuania and Hungary will
also deliver opening greetings.
Critics of the conference have voiced
concern over the presence of these latter speakers. In an op-ed in this
newspaper condemning the “whitewashing of anti- Semitism,” Efraim Zuroff,
director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, wrote that he was shocked
that “those scheduled to deliver greetings to the plenary at the opening
ceremony are in four out of five cases representatives of countries whose
current record on anti-Semitism is among the worst in Europe.
guests in question were coming to Jerusalem to announce new policies which would
significantly contribute to the battle against anti-Semitism or against the
attacks on Israel in their countries, obviously their invitation to the forum
would be totally justified,” Zuroff wrote.
However, he argued, “their
‘greetings’ will be another opportunity to whitewash the problem and extol the
wonderful policies of the governments they represent.”