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July 25, 2023 6:00 am

‘J7’ International Task Force Against Antisemitism Launched by ADL, National Jewish Organizations

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avatar by Ben Cohen

Members of the so-called “Goyim Defense League” (GDL) displaying an antisemitic banner on the 405 freeway in California. Photo: Twitter

A new international task force to combat antisemitism was launched on Tuesday by the US-based Anti Defamation League (ADL) alongside national Jewish organizations in six other countries.

The formation of the “Large Communities Task Force Against Antisemitism” — known for short as the “J7” — comes “at a time when data from around the world indicates a rise in antisemitic incidents and attitudes, and growing concern within our Jewish
communities who are confronting this rise,” a statement announcing the initiative observed. The previous year witnessed a record number of violent antisemitic incidents in Germany along with notable upsurges in France, the US and the UK.

As well as the ADL, the task force includes Crif, the representative body of Jews in France; DAIA, the umbrella body representing Argentinian Jews; the Central Council of Jews in Germany; the Centre for Jewish and Israel Affairs (CIJA) in Canada; the Board of Deputies of British Jews; and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).

Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO, told The Algemeiner that the proposal for the task force emerged from discussions held on the sidelines of a World Zionist Organization (WZO) event last year marking the 125th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress in the Swiss city of Basel.

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“We’ve often remarked on some of the shared challenges as we’ve seen the intensification and expansion of antisemitism,” Greenblatt said during a telephone interview. “Large Jewish communities in liberal democracies are experiencing stress and seeing a surge of anti-Jewish hate.” The “normalization” of antisemitism and the year on year growth in antisemitic incidents around the world, along with efforts to “legitimize” anti-Zionism on both right and left, underlined the need for a sustained global response, Greenblatt said.

Greenblatt emphasized that the J7 task force should not be seen as a new Jewish organization, but as a collaborative effort of existing ones. “There are lots of great organizations around the world that work at a global level across a wide range of issues like Jewish continuity, peoplehood and relations between Israel and the diaspora,” he pointed out. “The only thing we are focused on is antisemitism, and how we, as the largest Jewish communities, can learn from each other, share best practices and coordinate a more effective response.”

Greenblatt explained that the J7 is loosely modeled on the G7 intergovernmental forum, which brings together the world’s advanced democracies and specifies a country’s population size as one condition of membership. All the countries represented in the J7 are home to Jewish communities of 100,000 or more — meaning that Jewish organizations in countries like South Africa, whose government regards Israel as a reincarnation of the former apartheid regime, are not yet represented.

“We are open to expanding [the task force] over time and we will find ways,” Greenblatt said. “This wasn’t intended to exclude anyone.”

He added that the work of the J7 would be broken down into streams, “such as campus, social media and other topics,” and that “for those efforts we will draw upon the experience of communities around the world and learn from them.”

Jorge Knoblovits — the president of DAIA — said that his organization now carried a “great responsibility as one of the world’s largest Jewish communities and the only one in Latin America.”

“J7 will allow us to have a greater understanding of the challenges faced by world Jewry in the areas of antisemitism, Holocaust remembrance and other hate-related topics. To be part of J7, led by ADL, ensures that the perspective of Latin American Jews will have a global reach,” he said in a statement.

Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, separately noted that “the internet, as a means of fast and easy communication, increasingly blurs national borders. Similarly, antisemitic networks, tactics and developments don’t stop at national borders either. We endorse this additional opportunity for exchange in the J7 format, which will facilitate interaction between representatives of Jewish communities at this level. Together we will approach globally operating institutions or companies and unite our efforts in combatting antisemitism.”

Schuster’s observation was echoed by Marie van der Zyl, president of the British Board of Deputies. “Antisemitism knows no geographic boundaries,” she said. “By working together, we strengthen our ability to tackle antisemitism wherever it emerges.”

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