Need for the Global Forum to Combat Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism, its younger brother anti-Zionism exist in every country, if Jewish communities in those countries or not.

June 8, 2013 23:27
3 minute read.
'Sunday Times' anti-Semitic cartoon

'Sunday Times' anti-Semitic cartoon 370. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, held in Jerusalem under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry May 28 to May 30, produced an action plan with many suggestions for combating anti- Semitism and one main theme – the need for the Global Forum.

This was the seventh Global Forum and the fourth sponsored by the ministry. The ministry’s leadership role has both symbolic and practical significance. Symbolically it means the government of Israel has come to accept the need to combat anti-Semitism. It was not always so.

Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, diagnosed anti-Semitism as a disease from which the Jews suffered because of their statelessness. He considered that anti- Semitism would be resolved “on a political basis” through the creation of Jewish state. He predicted that once a state was created for the Jewish people, the Jews would become like any other people. He argued in his pioneering 1896 pamphlet The Jewish State that the advent of the Jewish state “would put an end to anti-Semitism.”

But just the opposite has happened. The Jewish state has come to be treated like the Jewish people. Israel has become the Jew amongst nations – outcast, defamed and demonized.

Centralizing the efforts of the government of Israel within the Foreign Ministry is symbolic, because of the centrality and priority of the ministry within the government.

It is also practical because of the global reach of the ministry. The ministry has officials around the world who can lead in the struggle against anti-Semitism in each country and at each institution where these officials find themselves.

The government of Israel is, of course, chosen by the voters of Israel and reflects the priorities of these voters. The Jewish community of Israel, of all the planet’s Jewish communities, is least likely to experience anti-Semitism.

Yet Israel suffers the consequences of anti-Zionism first and worst, through suicide bombers, indiscriminate rocket attacks and armed incursions. War propaganda, hate indoctrination and incitement to terrorism inevitably precede acts of war, hatred and terror. It is unnecessary to persuade Israelis of the need for selfdefense.

The first line of Israeli self-defense has to be the global combat against anti-Semitism.

Stop anti-Semitism everywhere and there will be no more military or terrorist attacks against Israel. Develop the best military self-defense, intelligence and anti-terrorist capacities imaginable, yet as long as anti-Semitism continues, the attacks against the State of Israel will continue.

Traditionally, the combat against anti-Semitism has been led by the non-governmental Jewish community outside of Israel. The Global Forum is an acknowledgement by the global Jewish Diaspora of the need for the government of Israel to lead in this struggle.

Anti-Semitism and its younger brother anti-Zionism exist in virtually every country, whether there are Jewish communities in those countries are not. The government of Israel has institutional and territorial reach beyond the places where there are large, active Jewish communities.

Many of the remedies for the wrong of anti-Semitism are governmental or inter-governmental. The government of Israel, as a government, has an access to other governments and intergovernmental institutions that the non-governmental world does not have.

Institutional rivalry among the Jewish organizations prevents any one organization from being accepted as the convenor of the rest. The government of Israel is a convenor acceptable at all.

The Haggadah says that in each generation, the enemies of the Jewish people will rise up to smite us.

This statement is more than just a gloomy religious prophecy written millennia ago. It has turned out to be an all-too-real fact. The realization that the creation of the State of Israel has not ended anti-Semitism reminds us that there is no magic bullet for combating anti-Semitism.

Yet, the creation of the State of Israel has given us a powerful global tool to combat anti-Semitism. Anti- Semitism is a shape-shifting monster. The Global Forum is an adapted effort to combat anti-Semitism, an adaptation to the form that anti-Semitism now takes.

The author is a Winnipeg lawyer, senior honorary counsel of B’nai Brith Canada and co-chairman of the Working Group on Antisemitism on the Internet and the Media.

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