Natan Sharansky regarding the test of antisemitism

Natan Sharansky on his 3D Test of Antisemitism – demonization, delegitimization and double standards.

Natan Sharansky (photo credit: ISGAP)
Natan Sharansky
(photo credit: ISGAP)

Rising antisemitism should not be seen as a primarily Jewish problem but one that needs to be tackled by every country experiencing it, according to former Soviet dissident and Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky.
“Of course, Jews – as the target of this most ancient hatred – had to develop ways to protect themselves,” Sharansky told me while sipping cider at a Jerusalem café. “The establishment of the State of Israel turned tables on the situation, when Jews finally reclaimed an opportunity to shape own future.”
Sharansky warned that an antisemitic situation can quickly deteriorate out of control, especially in Europe. “Whenever I go to a Holocaust museum, I always see how rich Jewish life was a natural integral part of Europe in the 1930s, whether it be France, Belgium, Italy, Poland or Ukraine. But the ease with which these communities were destroyed and killed shows how thin the layer of culture and humanity is in liberal Europe.”
After the Holocaust, he said, antisemitism morphed from targeting Jews to targeting Israel.
“In the days of the Soviet Union, it was clear that every time you attack Jews, you are attacking Israel, and when you attack Israel, you are attacking Jews. The official cartoons about Israel looked like classic caricatures of Jews from Nazi propaganda.”
After he made aliyah, he said, “I found out that demonization, delegitimization and double standards towards Israel exist also in the West. Yet here any attempts to compare criticism towards Israel with antisemitism were energetically denied and discarded both by politicians and public figures, who claimed: ‘You cannot limit our right to criticize Israeli politics by calling us antisemites.’”
In order to define a clear line between criticism of Israel and the new antisemitism, Sharansky said, “I proposed 20 years ago my 3D Test of Antisemitism – demonization, delegitimization and double standards.”
Explaining the criteria of the test, he said, “You may disagree with Israel as much as you wish, but the moment you deny Israel’s right to exist, the moment you connect its leaders with the most awful antisemitic libels – like in the cartoon that pictures Ariel Sharon eating Arab children with their blood all over his face – or the moment you apply to Israel the standards that don’t apply to anybody else – like when Israel is denounced for violating human rights more than all the world dictators together – then it’s antisemitism.”
As a result of his 3D Test, Sharansky said, there is now an international definition of antisemitism that includes the principle that some forms of criticism of Israel are clearly antisemitic. “Today the core element of the self-identity of every Jew is the connection to Israel. Therefore antisemites attack Israel,” he said. “Comparing Israel to Auschwitz or apartheid is antisemitic.”
Sharansky, who now chairs the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP), recommended that there should be a global alliance against antisemitism similar to the Soviet Jewry struggle that preceded the collapse of communism.
“The true fight against antisemitism requires the unity of Left and Right, religious and secular, just as it was in the global fight in support of Soviet Jews. And here we should have zero tolerance for those who claim they love Jews and yet demonize Israel or claim they love Israel and yet demonize Jews.”
Sharansky’s approach to antisemitism is a result of his lifelong dedication to promoting human rights, equality and freedom. In recognition of his commitment to political freedom and his service to the Jewish people and the State of Israel, he will be presented with the prestigious Genesis Prize at a ceremony in Jerusalem on June 18, 2020.