Global chaos is breeding antisemitism. Global leaders must end it

These extraordinary last few months are a fascinating and worrying laboratory for understanding what happens when antisemitism is allowed to flourish.

(From right to left) Congressman Gregory Meeks; Governor Andrew Cuomo, UJA CEO Eric Goldstein; Senator Chuck Schumer; Mayor Bill DeBlasio; US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; JCRC CEO Michael Miller; and New York State Attorney General Letitia James march against antisemitism across the Brooklyn Bridge. (photo credit: COURTESY JAKE ASNER - UJA-FEDERATION OF NEW YORK)
(From right to left) Congressman Gregory Meeks; Governor Andrew Cuomo, UJA CEO Eric Goldstein; Senator Chuck Schumer; Mayor Bill DeBlasio; US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; JCRC CEO Michael Miller; and New York State Attorney General Letitia James march against antisemitism across the Brooklyn Bridge.
(photo credit: COURTESY JAKE ASNER - UJA-FEDERATION OF NEW YORK)
Seventy-five years after the Holocaust, Jewish communities once again feel the earth shaking under their feet. This is not the 1930s, but nonetheless, it would be a grave mistake to ignore the alarming reality facing us. The dominant issues of the day – coronavirus and the struggle for black rights – have been manipulated beyond belief to fuel almost unprecedented levels of antisemitism. Global leaders must unite and act in order to stem this ugly tide. 
The air was already thick with Jew-hatred before the coronavirus outbreak. 2019 produced some of the worst statistics on antisemitism ever recorded. Online antisemitism via social media and other channels skyrocketed and translated into a growth in attacks on Jewish people and their property in almost every country around the world. 
Haters pounced on the outbreak of COVID-19, instantly disseminating vile antisemitic conspiracy theories. As the economic and social stress of the pandemic took hold, so did allegations that Jews were responsible for the virus, were utilizing it for profit, harnessing it to gain political control or to reduce the world population. The accusations were bizarre and extreme and yet they gained traction. The old blood libels of centuries long gone came back to haunt us. 
Far-left groups, augmented by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Iran, deployed the same themes to blame Israel and Zionism, using them as surrogates for Jews. A global crisis was hijacked by a foul ideology, with Israel falsely accused of infecting Palestinian workers with COVID-19, pouring infected sewage into Palestinian areas and more.
WITH THE coronavirus crisis still in full swing, the appalling killing of George Floyd triggered an eruption of justified anger from black Americans, who felt their lives don’t matter. Once again, ideologues rushed to ride the wave of a just cause to promote their own hateful agenda. 
From the left, the likes of Amnesty International, Jewish Voice for Peace, Al-Haq and others drew an imaginary direct line between American police brutality and the Israel-Palestinian conflict. They falsely blamed Israeli-taught military tactics for Floyd’s death. Suddenly, the slogan “Black Lives Matter” was echoed by the call “Palestinian Lives Matter” and demonstrations were marred by antisemitic slurs. It was no coincidence that in Los Angeles, violence targeted Jewish buildings. 
From the right, white supremacists took equal advantage. Conspiracy theories blaming George Soros for promoting disorder and inciting the masses became commonplace. Jews were portrayed as privileged whites profiteering off the back of everyday Americans. Far-right groups called on black protestors to target Jews in a classic case of killing two birds with one stone, pitting one perceived enemy against the other. 
THESE EXTRAORDINARY last few months are a fascinating and worrying laboratory for understanding what happens when antisemitism against Jews as individuals, part of a community, or represented by Israel, is allowed to flourish. When the classic bigoted antisemitism of the Right meets the new “rational” antisemitism of the Left, it is more dangerous than ever. It is intensified by the echo chambers of social media, which reinforce the feelings of marginalization and detachment. It is fertile ground for extremism and hatred. 
Jewish history has taught that these trends cannot be ignored. A potent mixture exists of economic instability, social unrest, threats to law and order, political division and a failure of leadership. For some, the entire world order appears under attack. Jews are invariably the first victims of such chaos, but they are never the last. Additional minority groups and the very values and institutions of democracy are also in the crosshairs. 
With the global tide of instability seemingly set to continue and most likely intensify, the time has come to take concrete steps against antisemitism. First, governments must openly acknowledge the imminent threat posed by antisemitism not only to Jewish people, but to society as a whole. Second, collaborative mechanisms must be established between Jewish lay leaders and governmental bodies to better coordinate the fight against antisemitism. Third, methodology must be developed to hold governments and international corporations including social media companies to account, using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition as a framework. Lastly, we must foster alliances between governments and institutions across the world to create best practices and truly unite to defeat the antisemites. 
There are plenty of reasons why today is not the 1930s. But unparalleled tragedy should not be our benchmark. This is not the time to panic, but the poison of antisemitism is clearly infecting the world at a dangerous pace. As this trajectory continues, now more than ever is the time to plan, prepare and take action. Failure to do so would be a betrayal not only of Jewish communities, but society and democracy as we know it. 

The writer, a brigadier-general (Res), is the former director of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs and a founding member of the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement.