Amsterdam mayor says Netanyahu hurts fight against anti-Semitism

Femke Halsema at conference of mayors on fight against anti-Semitism says Netanyahu accusations against ICC cheapen meaning of anti-Semitism

Toby Axelrod/JTA ,

Amsterdam
Amsterdam
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At a conference on fighting anti-Semitism by 32 mayors from around the world, the one from Amsterdam took aim at Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for allegedly cheapening the struggle for electoral gain.

Femke Halsema, a former leader of the Green Left party, criticized Netanyahu’s recent statement that the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court has made “anti-Semitic edicts” when the court decided last year that it had jurisdiction to prosecute Israelis for alleged war crimes in Gaza in 2014.

“If someone says for political gain that a legal investigation by the International Criminal Court of a state actor in Gaza is anti-Semitism, then you deeply undervalue the meaning [of] anti-Semitism and the dark outcomes of anti-Semitism nowadays and in history,” Halsema said Tuesday during her video address in the Mayors Summit Against Anti-Semitism, a virtual conference hosted by the German city of Frankfurt with the U.S.-based Combat Anti-Semitism Movement.

Israel’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Naor Gilon, pushed back on Twitter. At a conference on anti-Semitism, “one should speak about threats to the Jewish state rather than using this as another opportunity to criticize it” and wonder why Israel is criticized disproportionately, Gilon wrote.

The summit was the brainchild of Frankfurt Mayor Uwe Becker, who told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he initiated the event so his counterparts “can learn from each other and feel that they are not alone.”

Anti-Semitism in Germany is “as diverse as our society,” Becker said. The coronavirus pandemic “worked like an incubator, speeding up the spread of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”



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