The Parliament of the United Kingdom.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The analysis of contemporary antisemitism is becoming increasingly complex. In 2010 the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) undertook the laudable initiative to publish the top 10 major slurs or incidents every year. The size of these SWC documents and the number of antisemitic incidents included under each of the headings has substantially increased over the years.
This year again there are many candidates that could be included in the SWC publication. There are the annual recidivists such as the BBC and the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Jewish Voice for Peace movement is one of the 10 most anti-Israeli organizations in the United States according to the Anti Defamation League and could be added to the list of recurrent slur producers.
One among many new candidates for the list is Kada Traore, the murderer of French Jewish woman Sarah Halimi. Abdoe Khoulani, a member of the municipality of The Hague on behalf of a Muslim party could also be included. When a parliamentarian of the Dutch Christian party SGP received a group of Israeli school children Khoulani tweeted: “Zionist terrorists in the making neatly visit the SGP. These are the future child murderers and occupiers.” The Dutch prosecution office decided that this was protected speech.
Beyond antisemitic slurs and incidents more attention should also be given to those who facilitate the classic antisemitism and anti-Israelism of others. Such facilitation can be done in a variety of ways without the perpetrators meeting the criteria of the most common definition of antisemitism. This definition, of the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA), required the approval of its 31 member countries, all from the Western world.
A few examples enable one to better understand the issue. Antisemitism in the British Labour Party became more visible a few months after it elected Jeremy Corbyn as its leader in 2015. Part of Corbyn’s own behavior and statements came close to antisemitism without however meeting the IHRA definition. For instance, he donated money to and appeared at meetings of an organization headed by Holocaust denier Paul Eisen. He also called Hezbollah and Hamas his “friends.” Corbyn furthermore appointed extreme anti-Israel individuals to high positions. All this encouraged others in the party to make antisemitic statements.
American Senator Bernie Sanders, who participated in the 2016 presidential primaries of the Democratic Party, is yet another facilitator. He stated that the United States should not limit its friendship to Israel alone, but should also be friendly toward the Palestinians. An ADL study found that the highest percentage of antisemites in the world – over 90% – can be found among the Palestinian population.
Facilitation of antisemitism is far from a new phenomenon. One cannot claim that the London municipality is an antisemitic body. Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center however recalls that the third European Social Forum took place in London in 2004. He remarked: “Much of its funding was provided by the London Municipality, whose mayor at the time was leftist Ken Livingstone. This forum largely focused on hate-mongering against Israel.”
The trend of facilitating antisemitism seems to be accelerating. There are a variety of campuses in the US where anti-Israel activities take place. The heads of several universities close their eyes to expressions of extreme antisemitism. This has been going on for a number of years.
Facilitation of anti-Israeli sentiment comes in many ways. In 2007 Brandeis University invited former US president and anti-Israel inciter Jimmy Carter to speak about his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid
. The university went ahead with its invitation despite the fact that Carter refused to debate Alan Dershowitz, which was the original proposal.
Recently, Robert Barchi, the president of Rutgers University, called the extreme statements of three professors there “protected speech.” The Jewish campus group Rutgers Hillel expressed its concerns that these scholars each “gives voice to traditional racist, anti-Jewish tropes.”
The New School in New York invited Linda Sarsour and a representative of Jewish Voice for Peace to be part of a panel on antisemitism. Sarsour backs the BDS movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel.
A facilitator of antisemitism in a somewhat different way is Prof. Barry Trachtenberg of Wake University. Research shows that Holocaust abuse has greatly expanded in recent years. However, Trachtenberg gave testimony before the US House Judiciary committee on November 7, 2017, declaring: “There is nothing necessarily wrong in comparing the actions of Israel to those of Nazi Germany.” He continued: “In fact, comparisons of foreign leaders and countries to Nazism are made regularly.” Many of the latter comparisons are also Holocaust abuse. Trachtenberg thus justifies antisemitic statements by claiming that Holocaust abuse terminology is also frequently used against non-Jews.
All the above however pales when compared to the facilitation of antisemitism by a variety of Western countries. These have allowed massive non-selective immigration from Muslim countries where the great majority of the population is antisemitic. As a result antisemitism among local Muslims is far greater in these Western countries than among the native population.The author is emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, and the International Leadership Award by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.