Edelstein: Anti-Israel reports led to anti-Semitism

"It is easy to boycott Israel when you don't know what you are talking about," says Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister.

NYuli Edelstein 311 (photo credit: NCourtesy)
NYuli Edelstein 311
(photo credit: NCourtesy)
A preponderance of anti- Israel reports around the world contributed to an atmosphere of anti-Semitism that led to 2009 being the worst year for anti-Semitic incidents since statistics starting being kept 20 years ago, Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that will be published in Wednesday’s Succot supplement.
Edelstein noted the story that accused the Israeli rescue team in Haiti of harvesting organs following the January 12, 2010, earthquake, and many other malicious reports in the years before.
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“When I say demonizing Israel has anti-Semitic roots, some people get a tired look on their face and say, ‘Not again, can’t you guys take any criticism?’” Edelstein said.
“But I will say loud and clear that this delegitimization has anti-Semitic roots. You can’t work in journalism in a mainstream country if you are anti- Semitic, but you certainly can if you are ‘anti-Israel.’ The attacks on many Jewish communities around the world are inspired by an anti-Semitic atmosphere.”
Edelstein criticized the theory that changing Israel’s policies would bring more positive media coverage, which was popularized two decades ago by President Shimon Peres and endorsed by Ehud Barak when he was prime minister.
“Saying that the problem is just our policies and that changing them would make the world love us is an interesting theory, but it has never worked,” Edelstein said.
“It has only made us popular for a couple weeks,” he continued.
“Camp David [the summit with Yasser Arafat in 2000] and the unilateral withdrawal [from Gaza in 2005] proved this.
When I was in Boston and I spoke about how the withdrawal only helped for three weeks, a woman in charge of public relations for Israel there laughed and told me, ‘Those three weeks were so wonderful, but so short.’” Edelstein said the best approach to handling anti- Israel boycotts was to spread information about how relevant Israel was to the world, and thereby change the atmosphere that makes such boycotts accepted.
“In London, when I was asked about boycotting Israel, I said I am in favor, but do it seriously,” he said. “Don’t just stop eating cherry tomatoes – close your laptop computer, call the hospital and ask them to stop treating your relatives with Israeli medicine and medical equipment. It is so easy to boycott Israel when you don’t know what you are talking about.”