Amb. Dermer, Elan Carr, discuss anti-Zionism vs. antisemitism

The Israeli Embassy in Washington on Tuesday hosted a symposium titled “Anti-Zionism and antisemitism.”

Yaakov Hagoel, Vice-Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the World Zionist Organization on November 21, 2019. (photo credit: STEFANI REYNOLDS)
Yaakov Hagoel, Vice-Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the World Zionist Organization on November 21, 2019.
(photo credit: STEFANI REYNOLDS)
WASHINGTON – The Israeli Embassy in Washington on Tuesday hosted a symposium titled “Anti-Zionism and antisemitism.” The American Zionist Movement (AZM) and the World Zionist Organization (WZO) spearheaded the event. Prominent members of major Jewish organizations were in attendance and shared their views.
Israel’s Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer said that Israel as a sovereign nation has the power to fight back against antisemitism.
“In 120 years, since the days of the First Zionist Congress, we have come full circle,” he said. “Then, people thought the reason for antisemitism is that the Jews did not have a state. Now, many people think the reason for antisemitism is that the Jews do have a state.
“Then, the enemies of the Jewish people said, ‘Jews, go to Palestine.’ Now, the enemies of the Jewish people say ‘Jews, get out of Palestine,’” the ambassador continued. “Israel is neither of the cause nor the cure for antisemitism. But Israel has given the Jewish people something that we did not have in all those centuries of antisemitism, and that is the power to fight back. And that was given to us when we restored our sovereignty and our capability in defending ourselves, not just on the battlefield, but also in the battle of ideas.”
The ambassador addressed modern antisemitism as well.
“Many people believe that the Holocaust had created a new norm, and this was a mistake in believing. What the Holocaust did, it made it politically incorrect in Western society to go after Jews for about a half-century. And that half-century is over,” Dermer said. “It’s been over for about two decades. I see the turning point in the conference in Durban. That was the point where I believe antisemitism became acceptable in polite society again.”
Elan Carr, the US’s Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism, said that contrary to what some anti-Zionist activists say, Zionism was created long before 1948.
“We have to understand that Zionism is not a modern political movement,” he said. “This is the cover of anti-Zionism. ‘I’m certainly entitled to criticize modern political movements. I criticize modern political movements in the United States. I’m entitled to criticize modern political movements of the Jewish people.’ Yes, criticism, yes, but the obsessive focus – no.”
Carr added that Zionism can be traced back to the Torah and is “as old as the Jewish people.”
“Zionism wasn’t born in 1948, and Zionism didn’t spring out of the First Zionist Congress. Do you know when Zionism was born? Parashat Lech Lecha. We read it a week-and-a-half ago when God says to Abraham, go forth to a land that I will show you. And to make it clear over and over again, the Parashah says, ‘This is your land by giving it to your descent.’ And at one point God says to Abraham, ‘Arise and walk the land.’ Because to get to know a place really well, you’ve got to walk it. And so God says, ‘Abraham, I want you to walk the land, all of it because it’s yours. It’s your inheritance. It’s your descendants’.’ That’s when Zionism was born.
Carr also addressed the controversy that erupted this summer surrounding the California State Board of Education’s development of an ethnic studies curriculum that many Jewish organizations said was biased, lacked the Jewish experience, and was anti-Israel. The California State Board of Education ultimately rejected the curriculum.
“One of the reasons why the Trump administration opposed the proposed ethnic studies curriculum in California – which was so bad that I thought it was an internet hoax, literally when I received the email, I didn’t believe it was real – One of the reasons why we opposed it and I was proud to make that statement publicly is because it denied Jewish ethnicity. Implicit through the entire curriculum, was a denial of Jewish ethnicity,” he added.
Yaakov Hagoel, Vice-Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the World Zionist Organization said, at the event: "We have gathered here in this hall as one people, in order make our voices heard clearly and loudly and say, 'Enough is enough!.' Stop Antisemitism, stop hatred, stop incitement, and stop the boycott! We have seen for far too long how Antisemitism has been combined with anti-Zionism, and this is worrying. Hatred of Jews has been combined with hatred of Israel and delegitimizing Jews around the world, in parallel to calls for a boycott of Israeli goods.”
He continued: “It is evidently clear that those who call for the boycott of Israeli goods, those who undermine Israel's right to exist, those who claim that they are not antisemites but only anti-Israeli, have in fact joined forces with the antisemites, directly or indirectly."
Mr. Hagoel stated further: “We received the news of the rectification of a historic wrong perpetrated upon the Jewish people and our natural connection to Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, in its entirety. The President of the United States, Mr. Donald Trump, through the good offices of his envoys, informed us yesterday of this act of historic justice – namely, the revocation of the purported status of ‘illegality,’ in relation to the territories of Judea and Samaria. This immense pronouncement is a victorious blow to the BDS movement that is calling for items produced anywhere in Israel (Tel Aviv and Netanya, included) and, more particularly, from Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, to be stamped and clearly designated.”
He concluded his remarks by saying: “I would like to congratulate the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Ron Dermer, and Mr. Elan Carr. It is my request that they convey our gratitude to his Excellency, the President of the United States, Mr. Donald Trump, who has worked tirelessly and unceasingly to counter both boycott phenomena targeting the State of Israel and escalating Antisemitism. A clear and unequivocal stand is required on Antisemitism, without sanitizing it. There needs to be a zero tolerance policy on Antisemitism. When neo-Nazis in the United States hold demonstrations against Jews – it is Antisemitism! When Jews on social networks refrain from disclosing their Jewish-sounding names – this happens because of prevalent Antisemitism. When Jews are slaughtered in the midst of Shabbat Morning Prayer Services because of their Jewishness – it is a direct outcome of Antisemitism.”