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The not-so-new antisemitism in Europe

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Israel Hayom

Last week, I joined over 1,000 activists, Jewish leaders and experts from around the ‎world, together with European lawmakers, Knesset members and Israeli officials, to ‎participate in the fifth Global Forum on Combating antisemitism, held in Jerusalem under ‎the auspices of Israel’s Diaspora Affairs and Foreign ministries. ‎

global antisemitism

This forum was convened 70 years after the Holocaust. Yet just last year saw the highest ‎number of recorded anti-Semitic incidents since the end of the darkest chapter in ‎Europe’s history. Brussels, Paris, Copenhagen, London, Berlin … virtually no part of ‎Europe is free from this indomitable evil.‎

The only difference today is that it is not only attacks on Jews as individuals, but also attacks ‎and vilification against Zionism and the State of Israel. It is perhaps just a more “socially ‎acceptable” way, especially in some European circles, to express one’s hatred and dislike ‎of Jews, and by extension, the State of Israel.‎

The forum was divided into 12 separate working groups, each representing a ‎different strand of antisemitism. I participated, on behalf of the Israeli-Jewish Congress, ‎in the “Antisemitism in the Guise of Delegitimization and Anti-Zionism” working group.‎

Let there be no ifs, buts or maybes about this — the assault on Israel’s legitimacy as the nation-‎state of the Jewish people, including by the use of false claims and malicious distortions ‎of truth disguised as acceptable criticism of Zionism and Israel, is the modern-day ‎manifestation of antisemitism. ‎

The facade has well and truly been lifted.‎

As French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in the wake of the violent attacks against ‎French synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses during last summer’s Operation ‎Protective Edge: “There is an incontestable link between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.”‎

At the same time, we saw calls of “Death to Jews” interchanged with “Zionists burn in ‎hell,” and even in Switzerland a protester rushed the largest synagogue in ‎Geneva with a placard saying, “Every synagogue is an embassy of the State of Israel.”‎

Jew or Israeli, on the streets of Europe, for many today there is no distinction. They are ‎one and the same. ‎

So, what can be done to combat this pernicious and unrelenting assault against both the ‎Jewish state and the Jewish people?‎

‎1. For starters, we need to delegitimize the delegitimizers, by singling out, exposing ‎and shaming this group of haters, including all those who support and fund them. ‎

‎2.‎ Europe must legislate a comprehensive binding definition of antisemitism, taking ‎into account that delegitimization of Israel, which goes beyond legitimate ‎criticism, is a form of antisemitism.‎

‎3.‎ Regarding the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, the darling of ‎the delegitimization movement being waged by a dangerous union of the far Left ‎and radical Islamists, we must make it explicitly clear that if you are pro-BDS, you ‎are against peace and the two-state solution.‎

European states may also consider taking the lead from France, which has ‎deemed BDS illegal, labeling it both a criminal and racist act, with a number of ‎successful prosecutions. ‎

‎4. We need to mobilize parliamentary support in Europe, including having pro-‎Israel parliamentarians promoting resolutions against BDS and discrediting their ‎colleagues who attack Israel, while at the same time strengthening bilateral ‎relations with the Jewish state.‎

As the same time, it is important to recognize that resort to legal tools alone cannot help ‎defeat the delegitimization movement.‎

‎5.‎ We also need to reframe the debate and broaden the conversation on Israel. ‎Most Europeans view Israel primarily through the prism of the conflict with the ‎Palestinians, which has been exported to the continent by extreme propaganda ‎led mostly by radical Muslim immigrants, and now taken on as a cause celebre by ‎many European elites. Many others are just simply resistant to hard facts. ‎

So, let us broaden this conversation by talking more about Israel’s positive ‎achievements (including in high-tech, innovation, cultural fields) and the potential ‎gains for Europe by strengthening this relationship. ‎

Israel advocates will always still need to defend Israel, but let us also be more ‎pro-active, anticipate trends and focus on the positives as well.‎

‎6. Greater support must also be afforded to the business community in Europe and ‎Israel against BDS attacks and the promotion of further business and research ‎ties.‎

‎7.‎ One large elephant in the room continues to be EU funding of nongovenmental organizations that openly ‎attack and delegitimize Israel. There must be greater EU monitoring and ‎accountability on where EU taxpayer dollars go.‎

‎8.‎ It is also critical for pro-Israel and Jewish organizations to build bridges and ‎create alliances with other minorities, NGOs and religious groups, including ‎moderate Muslims and churches, as well as civil society, to help fight common ‎causes, and who can also speak up on our behalf against this hatred. ‎

It would seem that we have been talking about the delegitimization of Israel as the “new ‎antisemitism” for so long now, that it is no longer actually new. Today, it is time to connect ‎the dots and take action against this hatred.‎

:: Israel Hayom

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