Anti-Semitism is not just an Israeli or a Jewish problem, but is first and foremost a problem for any society in which it is allowed to manifest itself, Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism which convened in Jerusalem, Elkin said that there should be a “zero tolerance” policy towards manifestations of anti-Semitism by governments and parliaments around the world.
The international community, he said, “needs to work together in order to change the current reality. In recent years, we see the rise of political parties who no longer shy away from promoting racist and extremist policies. Neo-Nazis are against marching through the streets of European capitals. Synagogues and other communal Jewish buildings need to add more and more security measures, and in certain neighborhoods it is not safe to walk around wearing a kippah.”
“The classic old malady of anti-Semitism has metamorphosed into ‘modern anti-Semitism’ and has spread to new audiences,” said Elkin. “Some leaders of Muslim countries, Iran in the lead, and some heads of Muslim communities in Europe, are now exploiting this twisted old hate to deflect criticism from internal problems to ‘blaming the collective Jew for all that is wrong’. New media is used to spread ancient venom. This is especially tragic when occurring in Muslim society, where Jews and Muslims used to live for centuries in relative harmony.
“Anti-Israeli rhetoric and propaganda in the Arab world is all too often nothing but age old anti-Semitism without even a new veneer,” added the Deputy Foreign Minister. “And in our immediate environment the thinking of more than a generation of Palestinian schoolchildren is being poisoned by the hateful and malicious educational and media brainwashing against Israel and Jews. “
Some anti-Semites “hide their hatred behind extreme anti-Israeli rhetoric. They hide behind proclamations of anti-Zionism, opposition to Israeli policies and so called ‘legitimate criticism’ and claim vocally that they are not anti-Semitic,” he noted.
“We should perhaps fear the ‘closet racists’ more than the skinheads marching with their swastika flags,” said Elkin noting that Israel “is willing to accept criticism of its acts, decisions and policies, but criticism is only legitimate as long it does not single out Israel for different treatment and does not delegitimize our existence and right to exist.”
Referring to Iran, Elkin noted that “Its leaders openly deny the Holocaust, brainwash their youth with hatred. They do not only call for the destruction of the Jewish state but they go to great lengths to develop a military nuclear apparatus which would be a danger to the region and to the world but clearly would be specifically dangerous for Israel.
“Such a situation is clearly unacceptable and intolerable, yet despite various rounds of sanctions and pressures, the international community has not risen to the challenge of an Iran with a nuclear vision and a program of implementation,” he said. “And all too often we see an uninterested or even a forgiving attitude towards Iranian Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic statements by its leaders, including its president who feels at home in too many countries around the world.
“But it is not just in the Arab and Moslem world where Israel suffers from official and institutionalized discrimination,” he noted. “We face such singling out also in the Human Rights Council in Geneva where, despite the lofty notions of universality and equitable treatment, Israel is not a member of any regional grouping and it is the only country which has an agenda item, the infamous item 7, specifically to condemn its so called violations of human rights.
“While all along countries such as North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Yemen and others, not known for their protection of minorities, freedom of the press and other political and civil rights, are never or are only rarely condemned,” said Elkin. “But numbers speak louder than words - 46 of 103 country related resolutions and 6 of the 19 Special Sessions, since the establishment of the Human Rights Council, were against Israel. Can such a miserable record be defined as anything other than anti-Semitism in the guise of anti-Israelism?
Despite the anti-Semitism, however, “we must not despair,” said Elkin. “Not all is bleak. The Jewish people have today many courageous friends of all religions. Religious and political leaders have come out with strong condemnations to anti-Semitic incidents and more societies are admitting publicly the existence of anti-Semitism with this being the first crucial step in countering it.
“And Israel also needs the assistance of all who stand up against anti-Semitism in combating the new anti-Semitism – the pathological hatred and opposition towards the very existence and legitimacy of Israel, which is becoming the most dangerous form of anti-Semitism,” he added.
“So I thank you again for gathering for this Global Forum in hope of making a difference. Anti-Semites throughout history tried to isolate the Jews, to make them feel alone. Your coming here this evening sends them a strong message: Jews, Jewish communities and Israel, the one and only homeland of the Jewish people, are not alone and shall never be alone again.”