Advocating for Jewish rights

The WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps is a worldwide network of 300 Jewish professionals from 50 countries acting in the fields of diplomacy and public policy on behalf of world Jewry.

Marc Levy, | updated: 21:19

OpEds Marc Levy
Marc Levy
INN:ML

Last month, I had the privilege of attending the regional conference of the Jewish Diplomatic Corps of the World Jewish Congress in Berlin.  The WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps is an elite group of Jewish professionals who work with the WJC on a volunteer basis, tasked with representing and strengthening Jewish communities around the world. Their advocacy has extra authenticity given that they deliver strong messages to politicians in the countries in which they reside.

I was joined by 44 other WJC Jewish Diplomats from 20 countries. From the very first meeting, it was clear that those present had a commitment and energy to make a fundamental difference on behalf of Jewish communities across the globe. It was truly humbling to be in a room with such talented colleagues. Without exception, we had a shared ideology primarily focused on fighting antisemitism, countering the delegitimisation of Israel and remembering the Holocaust.   

Our shared mission had an added poignancy in that it would be taking place at the heart of what was Nazi Germany.  We represented our communities to the very highest levels of the German political establishment, walking with pride into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The enormity that a representative organisation of world Jewry was being welcomed was not lost on anyone present. We also reflected on the tragedy of the Holocaust at the memorial located right by government buildings and foreign Embassies.

We heard how the Jewish community in Germany is vibrant and thriving. Whilst respecting what the past represented, we were determined to not let it define our future.  We noted that hearing Hebrew is commonplace and Jews live open lives on the same streets where they were once persecuted. The relationship between Israel and Germany is flourishing. Chancellor Angela Merkel has met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on four separate occasions in the past 12 months.  Not only did the Nazis not succeed, but Jewish communities across Europe are once again proud and confident in their identities. This is the ultimate victory.


Within living memory of the Holocaust, the far right is again on the march. In Germany, the AFD – a party which tolerates overt antisemitism – has seats in Federal Parliament..this is couple with antisemitism on the far left....
And yet, antisemitism is on the rise, drawing an urgent need for Jewish communities to unite to protect and defend their liberty.  Within living memory of the Holocaust, the far right is again on the march. In Germany, the AFD – a party which tolerates overt antisemitism – has seats in Federal Parliament. This scenario is replicated in other countries across Europe. This troubling trend is coupled with antisemitism on the far left, where Israel is obsessively singled out, demonised and boycotted.

Sadly, the UK Jewish community is only too aware of this phenomenon given the current situation with the Labour Party. There was a strong resolve to ensure that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism is not only adopted but enforced. In addition, we noted the issue we share with wider society of Islamist extremism which often primarily targets Jews. Given the location of the visit, we also resolved to fight Holocaust denial and revisionism. Internally, we also spoke about the work of the Lauder Foundation to assist with building communal infrastructure in order to promote and safeguard the next generation of Jewish people.

The WJC has the mantra that all Jews are responsible for one another. It is an organisation that lauds success and there is plenty to celebrate. In Berlin, we did not take meetings out of courtesy, but had a mission to advocate strongly on behalf of the Jewish people. At the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, under strong pressure from several Jewish Diplomats, State Secretary Antje Leendertse admitted that Item 7 which solely singles out Israel for criticism at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was “antisemitic”.

On the final morning, whilst I was sat with fellow WJC Jewish Diplomats in the British Embassy, colleagues were dispatched to thirteen other embassies to advocate and ensure our voice was heard across the world. This builds upon the already substantial achievements of the WJC.  WJC Jewish Diplomats have delivered over eighty statements at the UNHRC over the last five years, speaking truth to power, often in a hostile environment. At the last UNGA meeting, thirty heads of delegation were directly lobbied by the WJC.

Critically, the WJC has a phenomenal social media presence. The “We Remember” and proscription of Hezbollah campaigns reached hundreds of millions of people in every corner of the world.

The conference concluded with each delegate giving specific commitments as to what they would be undertaking for the WJC and their communities. Combined with the work of hundreds of other committed individuals, world Jewry must be reassured that their voice will be heard at the highest levels of Government.


 

The author is a member of the flagship diplomacy program of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), the WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps, a worldwide network of 300 Jewish professionals from 50 countries acting in the fields of diplomacy and public policy on behalf of world Jewry.




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