The Foreign Ministry staged a highly successful event in the 5th Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, held in Jerusalem between May 12 and May 14.
Delegates from around the world gathered to hear an impressive array of speakers, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The conference was intense. Even the lunches during the three days became platforms for keynote speakers including Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Confederation of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization, Robert Wistrich, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.
The third day was taken up with numerous working groups, each delegated to address specific aspects of global anti-Semitism and come up with solutions and action plans to counter this ongoing plague.
I joined the group discussing “Anti-Semitism in the Guise of Delegitimization and Anti-Zionism,” which was chaired by Mitchell Bard and Dr. Pascal Markowicz. We were presented by a screen listing the many challenges and questions faced by everyone affected by anti-Israel activism that morphs into expressions of Jew-hatred and Israel denial.
It was clear, hearing the problems faced by students on campus to the problems that heads of Jewish communities are increasingly dealing with, that anti-Semitism posing as anti-Zionism is rampant worldwide. Participants from North and South America, Europe including the UK, South Africa and Australia, told of the challenges they are trying to counter in their countries.
True to the title of our session, it became apparent that, although we discussed in depth the difficulties that Jews abroad and Israel in general have been suffering from in recent times, the big black cloud that shadows all our concerns is the anti-Semitism linked to all aspects of the Palestinian cause. As described in my book Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism, its fertile roots are deeply embedded in Gaza and Ramallah. Here is the spearhead of a wider Arab malevolence against Jews rooted in their faith and political systems.
As the title of our working group suggests, this strain of anti-Semitism radiates from the Middle East into Western societies, fanned by far-left agitators, racist professors, lecturers and other voices who call and act for the delegitimization of Israel and an end to anti-Zionism. The excuse that “we don’t hate Jews, we only hate Israelis” won’t wash anymore.
We in the know are now on the case, exposing this fraud, the lie that has replaced the older canard of “I can’t be an anti-Semite, some of my best friends are Jewish.” The evidence is clear and is now being documented. It’s time the name and shame the perpetrators, and call it for what it is.
Anti-Semitism is an international crime. However, despite the efforts of major European Jewish organizations, the EU has been dodging the issue of coming up with a definition of anti-Semitism. We were witness to statements made at the Jerusalem conference by European representatives of an attempt of lumping any resolution or definition of anti-Semitism with other issues such as Islamophobia into a broader mix of “hate crimes.” We need to make the case that we deserve, especially in Europe, specific attention to our individual and collective predicament.
One important outcome of the event was a wall-to-wall affirmation that only Jews have the right to define what is, or isn’t, anti-Semitism. As one person at the conference said, just as most Americans accept that African Americans are the ones to recognize anti-black racism, it is the Jews who instinctively know, from generations of bitter experience in every culture, what anti-Semitism is.
If anti-Semitism is evil, and if the world desperately desires peace between Israel and the Palestinians, it is legitimate to demand that the United Nations, the European Union and the Arab League stop supporting the development of a national movement that has the words “Oh Muslim, there’s a Jew hiding behind me! Come out and kill him” as the cornerstone of its founding charter, as Hamas does.
It is this, together with their declared admission that the Palestinian cause is an Islamic jihadist movement that must give every reasoning mind, let alone the political representatives of Western liberal democracies, pause.
How is it possible that they invest hundreds of millions of dollars and euros in the advancement of a Palestine that will, inevitably, be a Jew-hating, Jew-denying entity? How can there be any doubt of this when Hamas’s hatred and the Palestinian Authority’s denial of the legitimacy of the Jewish state spills over into the manifestos and charters of the PLO (adopted by the PA) and the constitutional document of the Fatah Party? The aims and objectives of the Palestinian cause are blatantly defined. They are consolidated by the statements of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he of the Holocaust denial doctorate, who denies 3,000 years of Jewish heritage and existence, rejects the Jewish state and the existence of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people as legitimated in the international treaties of the League of Nations and further enshrined in Article 80 of the United Nations Charter. In further anti-Semitic references, Abbas has declared that Palestine will be Jew-free and that any Arab selling land to a Jew will be executed.
This is part of the Palestinian anti-Semitism that denies and delegitimizes Israel.
A question that usually leaves European diplomats with a blank look in their eyes is what sort of Palestine they are trying so hard to create. Some mutter that they are working to develop institutes necessary to achieve a democratic Palestine living in peace with Israel. But they are stumped when asked what responsibility they take if Israel surrenders territory according to their demands and political pressure that results not in peaceful Palestine but a radical Hamastan? According to all Palestinian polls and elections, Hamas consistently gains the support of between 64%-78% of Palestinian society. That’s a majority every time. The latest evidence that Palestine will be Hamastan was the student elections at Bir Zeit University in April where Hamas won 26 seats compared to Fatah’s 19. It must be pointed out that Bir Zeit is not in the Gaza Strip but seven kilometers north of Ramallah, within easy reach of PA headquarters, and only 20 kilometers from Jerusalem. So a Hamas-controlled Palestine is not a possibility. It’s a certainty.
This makes the US administration and European urging for the establishment of a Jew-hating, jihadist state standing on territory belonging to a liberal democracy highly disturbing.
What is equally disturbing is the apparition of the fevered efforts of hundreds of dubious NGOs, supported politically, morally and financially by European governments. Some have politicians who are being exposed for their dislike of Jews.
Those of us active in defense of Israel against the demonization and delegitimization campaigns that use thousands of eager young European volunteers regularly witness that their Palestinian lovefest comes with an equal, if not more passionate, Israeli hatefest which leaves us wondering if Jew-hatred is not at the heart of it.
Therefore, we are entitled to ask why they adopt this aspect of Palestinian concern yet ignore the abuse of Palestinian rights at the hands of both Palestinian leaderships in Ramallah and Gaza. They also do or say nothing about Palestinians that are suffering in Arab lands. Their exaggeration of anti-Israel claims and insults is out of proportion to other world crisis points that apparently do not concern them. This obsessive behavior that targets the Jewish state points to anti-Semitism. In fact, colleagues can attest to fairly regular outbursts of anti-Jewish utterances from these NGO volunteers.
And so we see the spread and growth of anti-Semitism in the guise of delegitimization and anti-Zionism. Once, and for far too long, they claimed victory with a slogan of “Zionism is Racism” which won favor in the United Nations for 16 years until, after a prolonged struggle, it was struck down in 1991. It was struck down, but didn’t die. It is still alive and killing.
It is the anti-Zionists who are the racists. It is the Israel deniers who are the discriminators.
It is essential to define anti-Semitism as including the denial of Jewish rights to freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and the denial of Jewish rights to self-determination as enshrined in internationally binding documents.
The delegitimization of Israel and the attempt to deprive the Jews, and only the Jewish people, of the right to self-determination and nationhood is anti-Semitism.(These are the personal reflections of the author and not the official positions of the working group or the Israeli government.) The author is the consultant on delegitimization issues to the Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College and the author of Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism.