Senior diplomatic officials took sharp issue onMonday with Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister YuliEdelstein for referring to the Goldstone Commission report as"anti-Semitic," and for saying a connection should be drawn between thedocument and International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
"Theconnection between the Goldstone Report and the international Holocaustmemorial day is not an easy thing," Edelstein said in an interview withYnet news before leaving for a United Nations meeting markingInternational Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday.
"On the other hand, however, we must learn the lessons fromwhat happened. Then, too, those who called out were told that Hitler isa clown and that all the gloomy predictions of the 1930s were nonsense.
"On the Holocaust memorial day of all days, which also marksthe battle against global anti-Semitism, we must discuss thisconnection, because today the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces areaccused of harvesting organs, murdering children and raping women."
According to Edelstein, "After World War II and theestablishment of the State of Israel, anti-Semitism is not directed atJews but at Israel and the Israelis. The Goldstone Report, thepublications [in Sweden] about organ harvesting and similar reports,are simply a type of anti-Semitism."
Senior government officials, however, warned that drawingconnections between the Goldstone Commission report and the Holocaustdiminishes the Holocaust and provides Israel's enemies right-of-way touse Holocaust imagery to bash Israel."Noteverything is connected," one official said. "If you make anycomparison between Goldstone and the Holocaust, you will lose theargument; no one will want to hear anymore. You free the other sidefrom having to deal with your legitimate arguments."
Furthermore, he said, it would be counterproductive in thelong-term to use the Holocaust in a political argument because thenlegitimacy would be given to Israel's enemies to use Holocaust imageryagainst Israel, as when they say the IDF employs "Nazi tactics" againstGaza.
Another senior official said that it was one thing to say thatefforts to delegitimize Israel were anti-Semitic, but quite another todraw analogies with the Holocaust.
It was not clear on Monday to what extent, if any, Israel'sleaders - President Shimon Peres, who will be speaking at the Bundestagin Berlin on Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who willspeak at a ceremony commemorating the 65th anniversary of theliberation of Auschwitz, or Foreign Ministry Avigdor Lieberman, whowill attend a ceremony in Budapest - would make reference to theGoldstone Report.
Nevertheless, one source in the Prime Minister's Office saidthat Netanyahu has been careful since the release of the report onSeptember 15 not to call South African jurist Richard Goldstone, who isJewish, an anti-Semite.
Likewise, the Foreign Ministry, whose various spokesmen havesaid over the past few months that the document could lead to a rise inanti-Semitism, have not hurled the anti-Semite epithet at Goldstone orhis committee.
However, at Sunday's cabinet meeting Jewish Agency ChairmanNatan Sharansky defined anti-Israel criticism as anti-Semitic, if itmet what he called the "3-D" criteria: demonization, deligitimizationand a double standard.
According to that criteria, one senior source in the PrimeMinister's Office said, there were undoubtedly anti-Semitic elements inthe Goldstone Report.
Edelstein was quoted by Ynet news as saying the report wasanti-Semitic, and was expected to bring up the matter in talks onMonday in New York with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Even though Edelstein holds the tile of "public diplomacyminister," Foreign Ministry officials made clear they have neitherreceived, nor given, directives to begin referring to the GoldstoneReport as anti-Semitic, or to draw any kind of parallels between it andacts that lead up to the Holocaust.
In a related matter, Netanyahu, in an apparent reference toIran, said at a ceremony at Yad Vashem on Monday that there was "a newJew hatred in our midst. "There are new calls for the extermination ofthe Jewish state," he said, adding that the international community wasbeing tested now "as seldom before" since the end of the Holocaust.
"It is tested today whether it will stand up to the truth, tothe evidence of evil, to the design of mass murder," the prime ministersaid. "This is a test of humanity. This is a test of mankind and weshall see in the coming weeks and months how the internationalcommunity lives up to its responsibility to stop evil before it spreadsfurther."
Netanyahu was at Yad Vashem for the opening of an exhibit thatincludes the original blueprints for the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp,blueprints he received on visit to Germany last year.