MKs: We need to work with EU leaders to fight anti-Semitism

"We must build a coalition of heads of state to contain anti-Semitism," said committee chairman MK Michael Nudelman (Kadima), since "we will not succeed in this alone."

The Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee on Wednesday called for Israel to work more vigorously with European leaders and parliaments in the fight against anti-Semitism on the continent. "We must build a coalition of heads of state to contain anti-Semitism," said committee chairman MK Michael Nudelman (Kadima), since "we will not succeed in this alone." One of the primary ways to increase inter-governmental work on fighting anti-Semitism, MKs said, was to work parliament-to-parliament to create international alliances committed to the eradication of the phenomenon. MK Colette Avital (Labor) called on the Knesset to ask all European parliaments to codify efforts to fight anti-Semitism. She noted that after she recently turned to Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik (Kadima) with a request to take up the issue of European parliamentary action on the issue, Itzik issued a call to heads of parliament throughout the continent asking them to work against Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. "These activities brought results," said Avital. "Most parliaments condemned the [Iranian Holocaust denial] conference and parliament speakers raised the matter with the speaker of the Iranian parliament and with the Iranian president [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad]." Furthermore, Avital added, "the current justice minister of Germany [Briggite Zypries] decided to ask European parliaments to legislate against Holocaust denial." Aviva Raz-Shechter, director of the Foreign Ministry's Department for Combating Anti-Semitism, noted before the committee that the Global Forum against Anti-Semitism, a government umbrella organization headed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, would convene next week and would hold working groups exploring ways to coordinate Israeli government activities in the battle against anti-Semitism with those of NGOs and foreign governments. According to MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima), "it is possible to inject knowledge about the Holocaust into the consciousness of the world's countries and their youth through Israeli representatives around the world." To that end, the committee called on the Foreign Ministry to use MKs traveling abroad as emissaries in the fight against anti-Semitism. For MK Yitzhak Ziv (Gil), however, the question of combating Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism begins at home. "It is inconceivable that [Israeli] students don't know, for example, that in Bulgaria many Jews were saved," he said, and promised to "initiate legislation that would mandate teaching about the Holocaust in high schools and universities [within Israel]." Solodkin agreed that more should be done within Israel. "It's bad for the cause of preventing anti-Semitism that there is no minister for Diaspora Affairs," she said. The committee also recommended assigning a specific government body to develop a Holocaust curriculum for use outside of Israel. It also called on the Global Forum meeting to be used to find donors for a fund that would take European parliamentarians on visits to former Nazi concentration camps in order to teach about the consequences of anti-Semitism.