'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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.