The annual Holocaust remembrance events, whether in the UN or in individual countries, held on and around the official, international day of remembrance on January 27, have now passed, until next year.
The hollow and disingenuous lip-service payed by international leaders to the greatest tragedy that has befallen the Jewish people, has passed.
The annual “day in the sun” of professors, Holocaust researchers and experts, whether in research centers in Israeli universities or elsewhere, is over until next year.
Life must go on.
The international community can now get back to its routine and regular agenda of political correctness. It can get back to ignoring and sidestepping the most tragic violations of human rights in the centers of conflict in Syria, Africa and elsewhere.
The UN and the EU and their organs can return to adopting meaningless and futile political resolutions, generated by political groupings with specific political agendas that achieve nothing other than to fan the embers of hatred and antisemitism.
The world can now get back to pandering to autocratic regimes, to ayatollahs and to artificial leaders, purveyors of incitement and hatred that seek, through their actions and words, to sow the seeds of the next Holocaust.
Europe can get back to ignoring its own serious and pressing immigration issues to concentrate on its fixation with blaming Israel and with allowing itself, through naiveté and political correctness, to be manipulated by a corrupt, divided and violent Palestinian leadership intent not on peace with, but on the boycotting of Israel.
So what, then, remains of the annual Holocaust remembrance events? What practical measures are the international community taking in order to prevent future Holocausts? Is the international community doing anything to stem the alarming resurgence and spread of antisemitism – especially in Europe – often under the guise of anti-Israel sentiments and actions?
Apart from arguing among themselves as to the best way to define antisemitism in today’s international realities, what are the leaders of the world’s Jewish organizations doing to encourage countries to act definitively to criminalize and prevent antisemitism?
The trepidation of the world’s Jewish leadership – whether out of political correctness or just pure fear – and their hesitation to come out and boldly present antisemitism to the world as an ageold phenomenon that stands on its own, that has existed from time immemorial and that cannot and should not be equated with other forms of racism and bigotry, is perceived by the world as indulgence, absolution and weakness.
The international community has developed a curious and pitiful phobia against condemning antisemitism, just out of the fear that any such condemnation might be interpreted as some sort of positive expression in favor of Israel.
While the phenomenon of antisemitism is universally researched, addressed and occasionally condemned by international and regional organizations, NGOs, by Jewish community bodies throughout the world and even marginally, and in a limited manner, in some UN resolutions and declarations, it has never been criminalized as an international crime, in a similar manner to the criminalization of genocide, racism, piracy, hostage taking, crimes against humanity, war crimes and terrorism.
The fact that the world’s Jewish leadership has been lax and unwilling to advance this, for fear of a backlash, for fear of offending other communities, has left a serious lacuna.
By its very nature, its long, bitter and never-ending history, and its propensity to constantly re-appear in modern forms and contexts, antisemitism cannot be, and should not be equated with, linked to, or treated as any other form of racial discrimination. It stands alone. It cannot and should not be relegated to any type of listing of various other forms of racial discrimination and xenophobia.
In this context, attempts over the years within the international community, in various international resolutions and declarations (including the infamous 2001 UN Durban Conference on Racism), principally at the behest of the Muslim countries, to attach to any reference to antisemitism other phenomena such as Islamophobia, are clearly artificial and transparent, and fail to do justice to what clearly is a unique, sui generis phenomenon that must be dealt with independently.
It is high time to come out of the mindset of fear and political correctness, and to bring the phenomenon of antisemitism out of the closet and into the open – to governments, international organizations, Jewish groups and individuals – and to demand that, after such a long and bitter history, and given the special, unique character of antisemitism, its root causes, its horrific history and horrendous results and effects, and above all, the threat that it still represents with its recent resurgence, it cannot and should not be viewed and fought in a broader context of other forms of racism and bigotry. Doing so is tantamount to giving up on any hope of having antisemitic actions seen by the international community as meriting criminalization on their own merit, and not as adjuncts to other forms of racism in the broader context.
Antisemitism must be treated as sui generis, on its own merit.
To this end and with a view to correcting what is clearly a vast international injustice, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs published in 2015 a “Draft International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Antisemitism,” following the accepted format of other UN international conventions, criminalizing genocide, racial discrimination, terrorism and other most serious international criminal phenomena.
Despite having presented this draft convention to all the major Jewish organizations involved in the struggle against antisemitism, no organization was prepared to take it up as a major crusade within the international community.
In light of new developments including the new Polish legislation aimed at rewriting history and denying polish involvement in the Holocaust, it would appear to be vital that the Jewish organizations now take up this issue in earnest.
The author served as the legal adviser to Israel’s Foreign Ministry and as ambassador to Canada, and presently heads the international law program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.