Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Wednesday that antisemitism was part of a broad family of hatreds, and that antisemites start by attacking Jews but “always” move on to focus their hate and violence on other groups as well.
Lapid was speaking via Zoom due to being in quarantine after an adviser tested positive for COVID-19, at the seventh Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism led by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, in collaboration with the Diaspora Affairs Ministry.
During his address, the foreign minister related a story his father, Tommy Lapid, told him about his experiences during the Holocaust, and asked how it was possible that a person became “so full of hate, prejudice and venom” that they wanted to kill a young 13-year boy.
He asserted that antisemitism was akin to other hatreds in such as ones held by those who participated in the slave trade, the Hutu massacres of Tutsis in Rwanda, and Islamist extremists.
“Antisemitism isn’t the first name of hate, it’s the family name,” the foreign minister asserted.
Lapid said that modern antisemitism “exists everywhere” and that the Jewish people need allies and to enlist everyone who believes it is wrong to persecute people just because of their faith, sexuality, gender, nationality, or the color of their skin.
“We need to tell them that antisemitism never ends with the Jews. It will always move on to the next target,” he said.
“The fight isn’t between antisemites and Jews: The fight is between antisemites and anyone who believes in the values of equality, justice and liberty.”
Lapid said that antisemitism is another form of racism and extremism, and that the Jewish people should therefore draft into its fight against hatred of Jews, everyone who also opposes those phenomena.
“If you don’t help us fight antisemitism today, it might be your child someone looks at in the future and says, “I hate him, I want him to die.”
At the opening of the conference on Tuesday night, freshly installed President of Israel Isaac Herzog called on world Jewry to undermine the upcoming Durban Conference, describing it as “a conference of hate” beset by antisemitism.
Herzog also called for more legislation in foreign countries to prosecute antisemitic behavior and for greater efforts to educate the next generation about antisemitism and hatred in general.
“We must operate throughout the world in unanimity, strength, self-confidence and effectiveness to undermine the next Durban conference, because that conference is a conference of hate and diatribe of the worst kind, ridden with antisemitism in the worst sense of the word which brainwashes [people] about who Jews are and what Israel is all about,” said Herzog at the event.
THE DURBAN Review Conference, also known as Durban IV, is meant to mark the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Racism in the South African city.
The original 2001 conference was rife with anti-Zionist and antisemitic rhetoric and activities, and has been blamed for giving a prominent platform for ongoing hatred of Israel in the 21st century.
Nine countries have now pulled out of the Durban Review Conference scheduled to take place in New York in December, including the US, Israel, Canada, Australia, the UK, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
During his speech, his first public engagement as president, Herzog also called for more foreign countries to adopt the working definition of antisemitism drawn up by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which has been adopted by 29 states so far, as well as the EU and other organizations and authorities.
Herzog said that this would help combat antisemitism, but added that legislation is needed in many countries to “prosecute and protect” against antisemitism.
“There is also a need to educate about the cost of hate, where it leads, how bad it can be and what the repercussions of hate are,” said the president.
“In modern politics and public discourse, we see that social networks produce the lowest common denominators of human beings which are fear and hate,” he said.
“Fear and hate loom over antisemitism. Fear and hate are spread by huge organizations, operations and systems and tilts the balance against Jews, and the right of Jews for self-determination with their own nation state.”
Also speaking at the opening of the conference was Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai, who said it was time for the State of Israel to acknowledge how its military actions directly impact the safety, security and communal cohesion of Jewish communities around the world.
“From the extreme Right and extreme Left, events in the Middle East are harnessed as a concerning political tool to target and isolate Jewish communities,” the minister said in his address.
Shai also touched on the unique way in which antisemitism and its connection to Israeli action impacts liberal Jewish individuals and groups.
“It is my role to take on and reflect these realities within the government, cabinet and Israeli society,” he said.
“As the nation-state of the Jewish people, we stand in mutual solidarity with Jewish communities in times of both conflict and calm,” Shai said. “We must build opportunities for Israeli society to listen to and appreciate how Jewish communities experience these challenges.”