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April 4, 2016 1:31 pm

Irwin Cotler: Laundering Antisemitism Corrupts Our Common Humanity

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Canadian parliamentarian, jurist, and human rights activist Irwin Cotler. Photo: Facebook.

Canadian parliamentarian, jurist, and human rights activist Irwin Cotler. Photo: Facebook.

A world-renowned Canadian parliamentarian, jurist and human rights activist emphasized last night that global hostility to Israel is the “new antisemitism,” The Algemeiner has learned.

The Honorable Irwin Cotler, addressing an international conference at Indiana University called, “Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, and the Dynamics of Delegitimization,” also warned that rising global antisemitism is in fact an attack on universal public values and on the very institutions and mechanisms of global justice.

Traditional antisemitism, Cotler asserted, was directed primarily against individual Jews, and still remains alive today. According to statistics he cited from a recent global study conducted by the Anti-Defamation League, large numbers of people across the globe still believe that Jews have too much power, are devious and evil and are Christ-killers.

Cotler said that the new antisemitism targets less the individual Jew than the collective Jew — the state of Israel — partly by ascribing to the Jewish state the various nefarious traits antisemites traditionally ascribed to individual Jews, but also by operating under a number of modern forms, including what he called “genocidal antisemitism” and “anti-Jewish terror antisemitism.”

“International law proscribes incitement to genocide,” Cotler said. “Yet such incitement is precisely what we regularly see from Israel’s enemies.” He cited remarks by Iranian leaders, and the charters of groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, explicitly calling for the destruction of Israel and the murder not of “Zionists,” but of Jews. “These are clear violations of the international conventions against incitement, yet nobody acts to prosecute them.”

Nor is genocide merely a threat, he added. Not only have thousands of Jews around the world been wounded or killed in “anti-Jewish terror” attacks over the past decade or so, including hundreds in recent months alone, he said. But, again, the world pays almost no attention to them.

The most sophisticated — and therefore most troubling — modern phenomenon, Cotler argued, is “the masking of antisemitism under ‘universal public values.’ Our international institutions and mechanisms for promoting human rights and global justice have been co-opted, corrupted, toward antisemitic ends.”

He described how the United Nations repeatedly violates its own charter’s requirement for “equality for all states” in its single-minded focus on condemning Israel. He explained how international law has been directed almost exclusively toward prosecuting Israel, at the expense of ignoring dangerous and tragic situations around the world. He showed how organizations that fight for human rights, and against racism, have had their missions transformed almost entirely toward attacking Israel, again at the expense of ignoring all other dangers.

“These phenomena,” Cotler observed, “not only fuel the anti-Israel hatred going on across campuses today, but do so by giving the veneer of respectability to what, in fact, are racist, antisemitic campaigns.”

The damage they do, however, is not limited to Israel and to global Jewry, he claimed. “The ‘laundering’ of antisemitism through these mechanisms greatly damages the mechanisms themselves. When international law is twisted toward bigoted ends, that undermines the authority of international law. When ‘human rights’ activism is used the same way, that corrupts the whole ‘human rights’ project.”

Addressing these problems isn’t merely a concern for Jews, therefore, Cotler concluded. It should be a concern for all who care about universal public values, human rights and global justice — for if those institutions lack integrity and authority, then the world as a whole, “our common humanity,” will suffer.

Gerald Steinberg, president of watchdog group NGO Monitor and a conference participant, observed: “Cotler delivered a sharp warning on the mainstreaming of antisemitism under the facade of anti-Zionism. The goal of the current campaign to label Israel as an ‘apartheid’ state is to justify the elimination of Israel, and, as Cotler warned, by giving this immoral campaign the facade of legitimacy in the UN and among various NGOs, the new antisemitism has become truly virulent.”

Richard Landes, board member of the pro-Israel group Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, praised Cotler’s “discussion of the human rights situation at the UN, which is a grotesque travesty of what it’s supposed to be. Cotler is right to say that we must challenge the UN on its moral inversions. But the real take-home point is his insight that ‘what’s bad for the Jews and Israel is bad for the rest of the world.’ In order to attack Israel, her enemies have to corrupt and destroy the very mechanisms of global justice. Everyone loses — except for the tyrants and haters, perhaps.”

The conference runs from April 2 through April 6 at Indiana University’s Bloomington campus. Cotler’s speech, its keynote address, was entitled “Global Antisemitism, Demonization, and the Laundering of Delegitimization under Universal Public Values.”

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  • Myron Slater

    As far as I’am concerned, the UN has outlived its original charter a long time ago. It is now time to demand it leave their New York location and move to an Arab country, since it now run by Arabs.

  • Marshall

    Before the establishment of Israel, the success of individual Jews in various ways of life led to anti-Semitism. Since the establishment of Israel, that country’s success, militarily, culturally, economically, etc. has led to anti-Israelism posing as anti-Zionism.
    Perhaps it is no coincidence that the anti-Israel campaign brings together those forces whose beliefs have been shown by history to be failures:
    >>Leftists with the fall of the Soviet Union and abandonment of “socialism” by anyone who has had the misfortune to live under it
    >>Rightists opposed to the change represented by the Jews’ simply being “different”
    >>Islamists who have seen their pursuit of what they thought their religion taught cause ever-growing disasters for Muslims
    >>Academics whose views matter ever less as they become less connected to reality.
    >>Journalists who like to think of themselves as intellectuals but whose power has been lost to the recognition that their views aren’t worth the paper used in putting them up on the Internet.

    The term for bringing together all these failures is “intersectionality”.

  • duPont

    Cotler is absolutely correct and his pronouncements should be taken very seriously. It is unfortunate, however, that the only ones that will take them very seriously are the Jews. The UN is a biased, corrupt, confabulating organization that should be disbanded because of its anti- Israel/anti-Semitic postures promulgated by its dishonest membership. Throughout history the world has turned a blind eye to anti-Jewish bigotry and silently watched the slaughter of millions of Jews. It appears that nothing has changed; Mankind is still in the dark ages. Even with Israel’s altruistic humanitarian work throughout the world and in every disaster, it still doesn’t change. God’s Chosen People? Sad to say, but chosen for what?

  • It’s time for all descent politicians and academics to speak up, the UN’s so called human rights council is stacked by Saudi Arabia , Iran and all their proxies. There is over 500 million women in the Muslims World, bought as property ,against their will beaten and sometimes killed for honour.not eaven allowed to walk outside their home on their own,dressed to rules set by the state. This UN body, voted and declared ,western free democratic Israel as the worst violator of women’s rights in the world , not one western democracy voted against it, some abstained.

  • Vera Gara

    As always a brillant Speech. Thank you.
    I how you will be in Budapest for the roundtable Tablet Event in May Hotel Leonardo is good and reasonable just round the corner from the event. I am booked there and also suggested to David Kilgour .Fondly Vera..

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    What an immensely insightful read! I wish to commend Mr. Cotler for his take on the breadth and depth of the hatred toward Israel and Jews and the impact of this hatred on all of humanity. It is an absolute truth that when any people or nation is being attacked for its beliefs, culture, or way of life, the entire world feels that attack because we are all human beings. All of humanity has rights to live in peace in which decency, values and morality should be respect in such manner that human dignity is protected.

  • stevenl

    Western antisemitism is the main culprit! It hopes to perpetuate another 2,000 years of antisemitism.

  • Jonas

    Absolute correct, bravo for Irwin Cotler

  • Stein

    A wise article.

    Cotler is eloquent why harming the Jewish people harms all peoples.

  • Zg

    So, what are we going to do to fight this?

  • Anti-Zionism targets both Israel and individual Jews. The intellectually dishonest BDS movement has corrupted American and European campuses. The core of Anti-Zionism is unadulterated Jew-hatred, and it will take uncommon courage to combat it.

  • Jim Austin

    I agree. BDS types as well as those mindlessly denouncing Zionism have made common cause with religious factions seeking to complete the work of the holocaust started by the Nazis.

  • The UN specifically details that if one party calls for genocide against another, that criminal charges should be made against that party.

    Iran does that every day in proclaiming for the total destruction of Israel. How is it then, that no one has officially charged them? This goes far beyond anti-Semitism and demonization of Israel. Where is the push-back to this world failing?

  • Jerome Henen

    Dr. Irwin Cotler’s ability to clarify and explain the issue so succinctly is very welcome.
    Unfortunately his accuracy in describing what is happening today will, as usual, fall on deaf ears, or the ears of the already converted. The immense forces promoting vile propaganda against jews and Israel will go on mainly uncontested because of sheer numbers and because of the gullibility and uneducated masses who still believe that the Elders of the protocols of Zion is a factual book instead of the horrible lying screed it really is. And Mein Kampf is still one of the most popular books in the Arab/muslim world. The palestinian issue is the eternal club with which to beat Israel. The billions of dollars flowing in to their ’cause’ will continue unabated and the UN as risible and biased as it is will continue indefinitely with its immoral crusade against Israel.As will the left , academia and most countries. Anti semitism is the Super glue that unites any and all causes , no matter how disparate.As Israel becomes more isolated it turns to China and India where hopefully it will gain friends and trading partners not blinded by irrational hatred of jews. The west however is lost , it has chosen its path and it cannot get off it. In the meantime the west itself through its myopia , perceived guilt ,and pc correctness is capitulating to Islam , the main driving force behind the renewed and strengthened anti semitism. It is quite ironic in a way , but also scary to see Europe become islamic, as predicted by the late tyrant colonel Gadaffi of Libya. The MB plan for world domination is coming together and Obama is the prime enabler. Israel is the last bastion protecting democracy , yet it is seen as the enemy. Soon Europe will be ‘juden frei’ or almost so. Hitler’s dream is coming true.