PM: Israel's hope for peace not reciprocated

In video address to forum against anti-Semitism, Netanyahu says anti-Semitism "back in fashion."

May 28, 2013 19:03
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting, May 19, 2013.

Netanyahu looking determined 370. (photo credit: Emil Salman/Haaretz/pool)

Israeli leaders went on the offensive against anti-Zionism on Tuesday during speeches at the opening session of the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem, conflating it with Jew-hatred and defining it as the contemporary manifestation of classical anti-Semitism.

According to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, anti-Semitism is “becoming fashionable again.”

During his pre-taped address, which opened the gathering, Netanyahu said that despite the fact that “anti-Semites took a respite after the Holocaust,” such sentiment was again becoming socially acceptable.

There was only a “brief intermission,” Netanyahu said, noting that he believed that anti-Zionism was inseparable from anti-Semitism.

“After the rise of Israel, what is fashionable today is to say ‘well I don’t hate Jews, I just don’t think they should have a state,’” the prime minister remarked, calling on delegates to “fight and win the battle for truth.”

More than 500 delegates representing Jewish communities, civil society organizations and governments from over 50 nations were present for the opening session of the forum, according to the Foreign Ministry’s Gideon Behar, who chaired the event.

Netanyahu’s sentiments were echoed by Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, both of whom gave opening remarks at the conference.

Delegitimization of the State of Israel, Bennett said, is always a prerequisite for physical attacks against the Jews. The “phase of dehumanization” came before the Holocaust, and “that’s the exact same M.O. today,” he said, in a reference to the Iranian regime.

Calling the Islamic Republic a “modern Haman,” referencing the villain of the Purim story, Bennett said he considered the fight against the delegitimization of Israel an even bigger fight than the one he faces when he is called up for reserve duty as a combat soldier in the IDF.

That is “our biggest task,” he said.

Moreover, the Bayit Yehudi leader declared, “modern anti-Semitism is being anti- Israel.”

While the world “should absolutely criticize” Israel as it is “far from perfect,” Bennett said, it should be remembered that Israel is “the only pillar of democracy in an ocean of radical Islam that is out to wipe out the world.”

Elkin voiced his agreement with Netanyahu and Bennett, saying “blaming the collective Jew” as represented by Israel, “for all that is wrong” is a serious issue that needs be addressed.

Stating that anti-Semitism is “foremost the problem of societies in which it is allowed to manifest itself,” Elkin called on world governments to “adopt a zero tolerance approach to anti- Semitism.”

Konstantinos Karagounis, Greek deputy minister of justice, transparency and human rights, also took up the refrain, saying that despite the rise of the far right in his country, among others, anti-Semitism that “masquerades as anti-Israel” sentiment is of “greater concern.”

Addressing those who would say that they have “no problem with Jews but a problem with Israel,” Karagounis said that they were “on the wrong side of things.”

Holocaust denial, he said, “should be criminalized,” asserting that the Greek government is endeavoring to deal with the issue. He predicted that in the end the issue will be “uniformly solved across Europe.”

Despite applause from the crowd, not all attendees were happy with the Greek minister’s remarks.

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