The new face of combating antisemitism - comment

In these times of exploding antisemitism, including anti-Zionism, the Abraham Accords are a strong additional branch to the framework addressing the region’s overall security needs.

US SECRETARY of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem on August 24. (photo credit: DEBBIE HILL/REUTERS)
US SECRETARY of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem on August 24.
(photo credit: DEBBIE HILL/REUTERS)
I recently attended the extraordinary Combat Anti-Semitism Movement Annual Summit organized by CAM (Combat Anti-Semitism Movement), a global interfaith coalition of grassroots activists, thinkers and diplomats working to create a more inclusive future and to eradicate Jew-hatred. CAM honored former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo with its first Global Leadership Award.
CAM’s breadth and diversity in culture, religious participation, generational inclusion, and its honoring of people working for this cause was a grateful breath of fresh air amid the present political polarization and growing incidents of antisemitic attacks.
The event’s clear overall outcome was a well-established understanding of Israel’s importance as an indispensable security ally and partner for the US, and vice-versa. The innovation was in acknowledging the extraordinary beneficial potential of the Abraham Accords to the peace process.
In these times of exploding antisemitism, including anti-Zionism, the Abraham Accords are a strong additional branch to the framework addressing the region’s overall security needs.
When he received the award, Pompeo showed what happens when people really committed to see results, allow themselves to bring creativity to an old unfruitful process. Lasting for more than 70 years, despite multiple attempts and independent of the composition of both Israeli and American governments, this on-going immovableness has cost many lives, pitted countries, religions and whole regions against each other. It has left the youth of so many countries hopeless and vulnerable to be recruited for violence.
Additional optimism, which exuded from the words of Ambassador Omar Hilale, Morocco’s Permanent Representative to the UN and from several other presenters such as Fiyaz Mughal OBE, founder and director of the interfaith organization Faith Matters and Ambassador Dennis Ross must become contagious. All countries searching for peace in the region and the world must open themselves up to this extraordinary change that brings long-term enmities to an end. It is important to let fresh air come in.
For the first time, there is a major movement of Muslims not only ready to stop being antisemitic but to combat antisemitism. Let us marvel at the willingness of the ministry of education in Morocco to introduce Hebrew classes in its primary schools and universities. It is a completely ironic that some Muslim and Arab countries are taking these incredible initiatives while the educational system in California is struggling to ensure that its diversity program does not teach antisemitic myths.
Omar Hilale spoke of King Mohammad VI’s desire to create a “house of memory,” by restoring the original Jewish names of streets in order to recognize that the 2500-year-old Jewish Moroccan community was and remains part of the Moroccan legacy and history and that it contributed to Moroccan culture.
He believes that this is not a reconciliation, but a reconnecting/relinking, a recognition of the place of the Jewish people in the Middle East for thousands of years. Such statements put to rest the concept that the Israelis are a European import in the Middle East.
POMPEO SPOKE of the resistance his team encountered in its efforts to realize the Abraham Accords. This indicates the need to be open intellectually to optimism; to let go of the stubborn strategies that show no progress and that continue to alienate and separate the people involved.
Whether American state department officials or the European Union worried about the so-called Arab Street or carrying a monolithic concept of Muslim countries, it is crucial for them to leave behind the old paradigm that only the resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict could help the rapprochement between Jews and Arabs. We must let go of the assumptions that kept the Islamic world hostage to a resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. While it is a just cause, it was laden with unrealistic expectations and demands, unworkable conditions and unrealistic assessments.
This does not require that we abandon the need to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. On the contrary, it adds another dimension to its resolution: it shows that relationships do not have to be based on anger and hatred or the arbitrary goodwill of one party. They can be based on “more open relationships, diplomatic relations, economic partnerships and security alliances.”
Most ground-breaking, it calls not only for coexistence, but for recognizing the rightful place of the Jewish people in their ancestral lands. This can facilitate a peaceful resolution that has so far eluded the Palestinian public and left it with decades of underdevelopment.
The possibility of progress is huge. It can bring significant change to peace in the area.
There is now a crop of outstanding, bold and courageous leadership, who “came together to change the face of the globe,” and they need to be supported and encouraged by all people who support peace. This will encourage many more Muslim countries, including populous Indonesia, to join the Accords.
It will also strengthen the back of leaders like Egyptian President Abdel al-Sisi to continue making strides to change the radicalism of Islamic teachings in support of nonviolence. Jordan could follow suit. Everyone with good intentions should pray and work towards “the Abraham Accords (to) stand the test of time.”
The other resistant groups are Iran, the far Right and the far Left everywhere, especially in Europe and now even in the US, the Islamists, BDS sponsors and Pakistan, etc. The rise of antisemitism everywhere is deeply troubling. We need to do our best to stamp it out.
Ahmed Shaheed, a Maldivian diplomat who was the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran and chairman of the Universal Rights Group, a Geneva-based human rights think tank, spoke of the importance of supporting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. He recognized the need to focus on this issue as an international issue that affects the world’s well-being.
Indeed, a specific way in which this issue affects world well-being is to look at the rise of antisemitism as a sign of societies in trouble. It is the failure of a society to benefit its population that gives rise to antisemitism.
This understanding can help each community, country and the international community give the proper attention to the needs of these groups and bring healing. This will help us combat antisemitism while also alerting us to that society or group’s needs and help us plan the right interventions.
Of course, education is also essential. Katharina Von Schnurbein, the first European Commission Coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish Life, and others, spoke of the need to adopt the IHRA definition as an educational tool, to be used by law enforcement agencies and teachers, and to be made more widely known in schools, universities, municipalities, cities, sports organizations, etc.
Shaheed, Pompeo and others in the summit coined what – in my view – should become new slogans:
“No action [on antisemitism] is not an option.”
[Fighting antisemitism is] “the morally appropriate thing to do.”
“Don’t let hatred become normalized.”
I would add, “Leave no social wound ignored or group devalued and despised.”
The writer, a specialist in individual and collective trauma, is an author and founder and president of the International Trauma-Healing Institutes in the US and Israel, whose mission is to promote peace at community, national and international levels.  For further information contact (USA) or (Israel)