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February 24, 2015 7:33 pm

Why Isn’t Israel Doing More to Battle Anti-Semitism?

avatar by Isi Leibler

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A rally against antisemitism in France. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling on French Jews to emigrate to Israel amid the rise of antisemitism in France. Photo: CRIF

Successive Israeli governments have failed miserably to meet the challenge of global anti-Semitism, not providing the leadership demanded of a Jewish state in these turbulent times and leaving Diaspora Jews to their own devices.

The global anti-Semitic tsunami, an unprecedented surge of feral hostility compounded by the Internet, emanates from a combination of factors: rabid Muslim anti-Semitism and violence, demonical anti-Israelism of the Left, and traditional cultural and radical Jew-hatred of the Right. It has impacted on Jewish communities everywhere but ironically is most acute in Europe, the continent drenched with Jewish blood during the Holocaust. It gathered enormous momentum during the recent military confrontation with Hamas, climaxing in France.

The responses by European Jewish leaders differ in various countries. Overall, the French have responded courageously. In contrast, others have behaved like “trembling Israelites,” some remaining in denial and continuing to understate the problem. By and large, Jews in Europe are under great stress and many are despondent about their future.

The situation in South America and South Africa has increasingly deteriorated. Even Canada and Australia, whose governments are strongly supportive of Israel, have witnessed an upsurge in anti-Semitism

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In the United States, the Goldene Medina, despite the strong public and congressional support for Israel, many Jews are stunned by the anti-Israeli hysteria generated by the Left and some liberal media and shocked by the toxic levels of anti-Semitism displayed on many college campuses.

It is estimated that well over $100 million is invested in various overlapping agencies purporting to combat anti-Semitism. Some play a constructive role but others are useless and sometimes even counterproductive.

Yet, despite this, American Jewry’s graying establishment leadership is on the defensive and has become less strident.

The caustic and frequently hostile anti-Israeli remarks expressed by President Barack Obama were met with deafening silence — uncharacteristic of the traditionally feisty leaders. The reluctance, despite grass-roots outrage, of leading Jewish organizations — including the Anti-Defamation League — to publicly protest the New York Metropolitan Opera’s performance of the anti-Semitic opera “The Death of Klinghoffer” also exemplifies this trend.

Overall, Diaspora Jews are under enormous stress, confused and frequently divided as how to respond to the upsurge of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic onslaughts.

The global Jewish bodies purporting to combat these vicious trends all have limitations and have proven unable to provide the necessary direction on a global basis. The rejuvenated World Jewish Congress, headed by Ronald Lauder, has been a positive force, especially over the past year, among Jewish communities in Europe and especially in Latin America. Its inherent weakness is the absence of endorsement by the major American Jewish organizations, without which it cannot purport to represent world Jewry.

The Jewish Agency is headed by the charismatic Natan Sharansky, who possesses a full intellectual grasp of the problem. Unfortunately, he appears to have been diverted, channeling most of his energies toward fundraising, the bureaucratic management of an old and ailing organization, and concentrating primarily on non-contentious issues such as promoting Jewish identity. His absence of leadership was especially notable following the recent tragic events in France when he actually distanced the Jewish Agency from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call on French Jews to consider aliyah. Alas, today the Jewish Agency is no longer regarded as a major force in leading and coordinating with Diaspora Jews.

The World Zionist Organization (WZO), once a major body with active constituents throughout the world, is today utterly moribund, and has negligible impact as evidenced by its hibernation during the recent anti-Semitic upheavals in France.

A few weeks ago, the WZO suddenly emerged from its slumber with a childish questionnaire to constituents inquiring whether they felt that anti-Semitism was growing. Incredibly, it was accompanied by a primitive video seeking to depict Belgian anti-Semitism. It highlighted a Rabbi Menachem Margolin of the Association of European Jews (not to be confused with the European Jewish Congress) who the previous week had castigated Netanyahu for his “Pavlovian calls for aliyah after every terror attack.” Former WZO leaders must be turning in their graves at the degeneration of this formerly respected body. Chairman Avraham Duvdevani should consider officially dissolving the organization which disgraces its remaining constituents in the U.K., Australia and South Africa who continue to be engaged in important Zionist activity.

Over a decade ago, Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, in conjunction with the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, created the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism. It was enthusiastically supported and endorsed by major Jewish communal organizations and activists throughout the world. Sadly, due to lack of funding and personnel, it was unable to create a meaningful secretariat to maintain operations between the intermittent international conferences and therefore failed to provide the vital ongoing leadership and framework for consultation for which it was created.

Ironically, despite the explosion of anti-Semitism, aside from a parliamentary offshoot, this organization is dormant. Its last conference was in 2013, with a follow-up meeting of 20 representatives held in February last year that was a nonevent.

However, only recently, in a letter signed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, the Global Forum invited Diaspora Jewish leaders and activists to participate in the fifth conference, scheduled for May 2015. That ministers, whose sole contribution to the organization comprised an opening statement to conferences, could launch a meeting scheduled for a date when they may no longer be in office, highlights how politicians with a penchant for exploiting platforms to aggrandize their political status have hijacked this area.

It is now crucial to create an umbrella organization to serve as an ongoing forum to exchange views, provide direction, and determine and coordinate global strategies against anti-Semitism.

Only a prime minister has the status to launch a global body to encompass organizations, recruit the best activists and convince the often egotistical leaders of communities and competing Jewish organizations and agencies to set aside their parochial interests and merge their efforts to face the increasing threat.

The head of such a bureau should be a civil servant with a thorough understanding of the field and the ability to work and coordinate with Jewish agencies and the varied Diaspora leaders and activists engaged in this area. Staff members must not be connected to domestic politics. Aside from academics, there are a number of talented former ambassadors currently engaged in bureaucratic desk jobs who have the expertise to play a major role in such a body. There are of course also many talented and passionate Jews here and in the Diaspora who would be willing to engage on a voluntary basis in such a venture.

To function effectively, it will require substantial funding. But this project should not merely be perceived as a support for Diaspora Jewry. Israel itself has a major vested interest in creating such a global consultative body. We are currently being overwhelmed in the war of ideas and it is incumbent upon us to identify the anti-Semitic elements in the campaigns that seek to demonize us.

As severe as it is, anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism in Europe and most countries is more rampant at the grass-roots level than is currently reflected in government policies. Should we fail to reverse the tide, governments pressured by their Muslim communities and other constituents increasingly radicalized against Israel will inevitably lead to a further downgrading of relations with Israel.

At the very least, the existence of such a global body will enable us to hold our heads high and expose those opposing us as bigots and racists. It will also ensure that young Jews in the Diaspora, enveloped in a viciously hostile environment that is constantly saturated with media distortions, are not brainwashed into condoning the hatred directed against them.

Irrespective of whether Netanyahu or Herzog is elected, the new prime minister must consider the establishment of such a bureau as of the highest priority, in terms of both our national interest and the obligatory role of the Jewish state on behalf of the Jewish people.

Isi Leibler may be contacted at ileibler@leibler.com. This article was originally published by The Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom.

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  • victoria brandeis

    YOU ARE A FOOL……AND, THIS STATEMENT IS WRONG…..SPENING MONEY ON EVIL PEOPLE WHO WISH US DEAD IS A WASTE OF TIME, MONEY AND SELF.

    SPENDING MONEY FOR OUR CHILDREN TO LEARN HOW TO LIVE AS JEWS…DRESS AS JEWS AND BEHAVE AS JEWS AND ON AND ON….THEN WE JEWS, LIKE YOU AND ME WILL ALWAYS BE WITH OPEN EYES, EARS AND PROTECT OUR OWN AT GRASS LEVELS…IT IS THE ONLY WAY.

    SO MR…….WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO BE THAT JEWISH ‘ANGEL’…HOW MANY CHILDREN HAVE YOU GIVEN A MEAL TO,, SPOKEN NICELY WHEN THIS YOUNG JEW IS CONFUSED….WHEN YOU CAN MEET THE STANDARDS OF MY LIFE AND OTHERS WHO ARE READING YOUR DUMB AND STUPID ARTICLE THAT ENTICES ONLY HATRED……

    YOU MUST BE ONE AWFUL ZAIDY

    • Howie Subnick

      I suggest the Jews learn to arm themselves so there will never be anothe Holucost. Had the Jews been able to keep the guns they had, it might have turned out a little differentlly. Prayer is good, but it will not stop a 9mm bullet traveling at 1,350 feet per second. Be realistic.

  • Israel’s foreign policy structure is antiquated and underfunded. Iran spends 2% of GDP more than Israel does on Foreign delegations, the average for nations is 4% Israel spends 3% – it should be spending 6%! And it starts with educating its FO Personnel many of whom are sympathetic to Israel’s enemies.

  • baruch

    usa, eu, canada, australia supported nazi, antisemites, fafacshist rejim, hunta in ukraine, glorifications nazi crimes, claborators, murdered jewish. bandera, shuhevich, petlura, hmelnizkiy….oun upa, ss galizia, and baltik states glorifications waffen ss. riga, kaunas. kiev, lvov…stop support nazism, antisemitism. israeli ambasadors in kiev supported antisemitism in ukraine. reuven din el, belozerkovsky, naomi ben ami.vice presidents wjc blayh, superganav zisels supported ukrainian nazi.

  • Elisheva

    Why blame Israel? They are fighting everyday for their survival. I get tired of hearing this argument that Israel is the problem or should solve the problems of the world. We have been fighting antisemitism long before there was a Jewish State and everyone needs to join this cause of battling hatred towards Jews. There are many organizations doing this job but with the Immigration of Muslims who hate Jews into Western counties, the cancer is growing. The Muslim Brotherhood is well funded and a small country like Israel is no match for this problem. The US Government is now biased against Israel: allowing Muslim Brotherhood to control things. Support Israel and stop blaming them for everything. We are dealing with propaganda and deceivers.

  • The problem with anti-Semitism and anti-Israel movements is that they are based on blatant lies that have been repeated over and over for so long that, in some illiterate quarters they have gained credibility. Any fight against anti-Semitism needs, therefore, to consist in repeating the truth over and over. This is, however, like the accused in a tribunal shouting over and over: I am innocent! Coming from the accused, this is not convincing because he would say that he is innocent, whether he actually is or not. It is organizations like the Catholic Church, who have contributed enormously to anti-Semitism by branding the Jews as responsible for the death of Jesus; after the sainted pope John XXIII had issued Vatican II one might have hoped – I certainly hoped – that the Church would repent and fight to recognize the Jews as the people chosen by God. The Church would have the credibility, but lacks the greatness of the sainted pope John XXIII.
    I would like to share the moving prayer John XXIII penned shortly before his death:
    “We realize now that many, many centuries of blindness have dimmed our eyes, so that we no longer see the beauty of Thy Chosen People and no longer recognize in their faces the features of our firstborn brother.
    We realize that our brows are branded with the mark of Cain. Centuries long has Abel lain in blood and tears, because we had forgotten Thy love.
    Forgive us the curse which we unjustly laid on the name of the Jews. Forgive us that, with our curse, we crucified thee a second time.”
    It was the discovery of this prayer, very much in the spirit of Vatican II, that gave me hope that the Church would act in John XXIII’s spirit. But that requires greatness and since John XXIII, there does not seem to be anyone who possesses the humility that frequently accompanies greatness.

  • Bullfrog Europe

    Any campaign to try and diminish anti semitism is a worthwhile effort against a 2000 year old aberration, if not older. However two important must be borne in mind.

    Firstly, that Jews are prominent in society because ‘we fight above the visibility line’ in everything we do, bearing in mind there are only 14 million Jews in the world.

    Western powers, especially Britaij have a politicial & media crowd who have an affinity to the Arab / Muslim world. That contrasts sharply with the military who maintain close ties with the IDF.

    WHILST THE WORLD MAINTAINS AN UNNECESSARY & OVERLY HIGH PUBLICITY OF THE ‘PALESTINIAN ISSUE’ COMPARED TO THE FAR GREATER NUMBER OF LAND & PEOPLE CRISES THE WORLD OVER. ANTI SEMITISM WILL ALWAYS REAR ITS HEAD.

  • Julian Clovelley

    There are many millions of people of Jewish blood that never suffer a moment of antisemitism. They are to be found in every family including my own. They assimilated over the course of the last two and a half thousand years abandoning a religion about which one is tempted to ask – “so you think you’re different?”

    That belief in difference has driven some very silly policy over the years and helped create the phantasm that antisemitism targets. Currently it drives the division between Netanyahu and the American Administration and the disastrous Settlement and occupation policies.

    Just as I can understand why a muslim might choose to take the dangerous path of walking away from his birth religion, and I walked away from mine – so I can sympathise with any person labelled, or labelling himself, Jewish, who also walks away.

    Some might argue that the Zionist version of Judaism and concept of Jewishness rescued many. Some might argue it endangered whole communities as well as individuals – both may well be right. The only evidence I can give on this is that of a person one of whose family streams was Huguenot – That stream assimilated to the point that only a family history search would reveal it was ever there, part of a minority community that came to Colchester, England, centuries ago

    And I rather agree with a socialist friend who said – the sooner we are all fudge coloured the better. Oh well my son may be doing his bit for integration – his girlfriend is Chinese

    • Lynne T

      Frankly I am grateful that your Jewish ancestors converted however many generations ago, you creepy windbag.

    • victoria brandeis

      YOU SPEAK OF EVIL…..AND, WHATEVER JEW IS IN YOU….IT HAS LEFT.

      TO LIVE AS A JEW IS TO LIVE AS A JEW……

      PERHAPS YOUR FRIDAY MEAL WILL BE CHEW FUNG MOI

      • TheAZCowBoy

        3,000 years and the Jews inability to ‘ever’ find a room at the inn,’ and finally blaming the semitic Palestinians for the Jews over-sized battles with its genetic (DNA)struggles with ‘chutzpah’ and that of being ‘arrogant incorrigibles to a fault’ tells me little about the Jews ability to live peacibly with anyone – even other Jews!

  • The Jewish Agency needs to focus again on making a “Successful Aliyah” its top priority, and direct resources to that end. A resurgent Jewish Agency, with robust leadership and generous financial support, would allow Israel to remain a strong bulwark against virulent Jew-hatred.

    • victoria brandeis

      YEA…..GOOD SHABBOS

  • steven L

    Antisemitism, a mental endemic disease 21 centuries old in the Western world and 13 centuries old in the ME.

  • Gabrielle Grossman

    The “bureau” should include Israeli and Jewish journalists, who would flood the newspapers of the world with stories about Israel, it’s history, it’s ideology, motives and hopes for the future. Video makers should flood the internet and television stations with the same topics. I believe that most people of the world know very little about Israel and how it came to be a country. Understanding and empathy all over the world is needed to combat anti-semitism.

    • TheAZCowBoy

      Israel has no history unless you go all the way back to Khazaria which you Jews refuse to do.

      It’s almost like calling the Palestinian ‘Jaffa orange’ Jewish, huh? 🙂

  • Mickey Oberman

    Israel has been deeply involved in an battle for its very life since it was founded.
    Perhaps you can think of a few more battles for it to fight.
    It will gladly welcome Jews from any country and try its best to help them to become happy, useful citizens.

    My grandparents faced the same problems European Jews face today when they lived in Europe. I am forever grateful that they made the difficult decision to come to Canada. That was in 1902. Nothing has changed in Europe since then.

    Mr. Leibler, I have a great deal of respect for you and your opinions but I do think you are being a little unfair here.
    Mickey Oberman

    • Julian Clovelley

      May any Jew feel welcome here in Australia too. Just don’t pretend you’re different and never miss your shout

      And bring the family recipes to share.

    • Howard Kahan

      Hooray for you Mickey. Anti semitism is one of the oldest professions in the world. It aint going to change. And to waste your time in an old battle, will get you nowhere.

  • Max Cohen

    Far be it from me to offer advice on how to conduct an effective campaign to combat any uninhibited aggressiveness. I am a 90 year old Jew who mostly avoided confrontation. Fighting now and then solved little because there always seemed to be another and another cheap shot idiot waiting to insinuate an insult. Is it possible that occasional defensive violence was simply a losing strategy? Would I have helped fellow Jews had I gone on an offensive rampage, picking victims among those a trifle smaller than myself, and also maybe painting Jewish icons on store windows and subway trains after the fashion of the Puerto Ricans who flooded Manhattan in the 1950’s and 60’s. New York’s intelligentsia reacted to the Puerto Rican offensive by declaring that all New Yorkers should learn Spanish so that the new comers would feel at home. Jews should stop saying, EXCUSE ME, then go commit a few hate crimes so that at last, the Jewish intellectuals would produce a few rationalizations in their defense

    • TheAZCowBoy

      Max, will you be on the ballot in Israel next month?
      I think I could vote for you.

      BTW: All the Jews I know would rather die than say ‘Excuse me’ they’re as bad (worse?!!) than the Russian’s on the Moscow subway, LOL! 🙂

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