First Lady Michal Herzog in Davos
First Lady Michal Herzog in DavosPresident's Office

Israel’s First Lady Michal Herzog today (Thursday) participated on a special panel dealing with the issue of rising global antisemitism at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The panel was moderated by Professor Timothy Snyder and included Douglas Emhoff, Second Gentleman of the United States, Jonathan Greenblatt, Executive Director of the Anti-Defamation League, and Special Advisor to the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi, Rabbi David Rosen.

On her lapel, the First Lady Herzog wore a special pin with the face of Kfir Bibas, the youngest hostage held in Gaza, whose first birthday was today, January 18.

During the panel, Mrs. Herzog commented on the significant increase in antisemitic attacks since October 7. She said: “The massacre, the attack of Hamas on Israel on October 7 unleashed everything. The masks were taken off. And we have to remember that the rallies and the calls, and the demonstrations began immediately after October 7, even before Israel started to manoeuvre in Gaza itself."

“History has shown us that hatred of Jews has always been the canary in the coal mine. It has been the first starter, but then other populations are targeted. I think what is happening in Israel now is not only a war of Israel and Hamas, it's a war on values, the values of the free world against the world of evil.

She noted, “This is a pin showing the beautiful and sweet face of Kfir Bibas. Today is his first birthday today, January 18. He was born exactly a year ago, but he's still held in Gaza by Hamas. Kfir was taken hostage - he’s the youngest one - when he was nine months old, with his four-year-old brother and his mother, Shiri and father Yarden. We don't know their whereabouts. And it is still very, very difficult for all of us.”

On the issue of the sexual and gender-based assaults carried out by Hamas, the First Lady noted, “The gender-based violence that took place on October 7 was atrocious was and still is difficult to understand. The most important thing in gender-based violence is that the victims are believed. And what has happened here is the contrary. This has been the most filmed and photographed act of violence ever, when did we see so much footage of the terrible attacks? And yet, people turn to us to Israeli women to Jewish women and say, so where's the evidence? Did they ask others? Where is the evidence?"

"UN Women took such a long time to turn around and actually condemn this. It took them eight weeks to come out with a short phrase of condemnation. One could not but feel that it was because of the nature of the victims and survivors. I think there is room for supporting the idea that this is also rooted in some kind of antisemitism,” Mrs. Herzog said.