President Rivlin called for a number of urgent steps against anti-Semitism:
* To use all legal tools to prevent hate crimes and to prosecute them
* To ensure the security of Jewish communities
* To launch new educational initiatives to convey the legacy of the Holocaust to generations who will not know survivors
* To fight online hate crime, and to develop regulations and technology to prevent anti-Semitism and incitement on social networks
·* To adopt and use the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism at all levels
In a special emergency conference held today, Monday 4 November / 6 Cheshvan, at Beit HaNasi in Jerusalem, President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin met with special envoys and coordinators for combatting anti-Semitism from Europe and the United States. European Commission Coordinator on combatting Antisemitism Katherina von Schnurbein, US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism Elan Carr, UK Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues Lord Eric Pickles, German Government Commissioner on Anti-Semitism Dr. Felix Klein and French Special Representative on Racism, Anti-Semitism and Discrimination Frédéric Potier reported on their work, the challenges their governments face and the ways to combat anti-Semitism.
“Your clear voices and the work you do are crucial, particularly at such a challenging and hostile time,” the president told the coordinators and spoke about the worrying rise in anti-Semitism around the world. “We share the understanding that anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem alone. It is a problem for all humanity. We are engaged in a bitter joint fight against any expressions of anti-Semitism – from the right, the left or from radical Islam. Anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism. There are no gray areas and there is no option other than zero tolerance. One can criticize us so long as it is criticism. The moment it turns to boycotts and actions against Israel that are influenced by anti-Semitism – we will not accept it.”
US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism, thanked the president for hosting the conference and said, “Many leaders around the world understand that anti-Semitism is not only against the Jews, but against society as a whole. It is a great honor to work alongside such leaders for a better and more just world, and I am proud to call them partners. President Trump calls anti-Semitism poison. It is important that you know that my country, headed boss President Trump, and my boss Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, stand with you in the struggle for the security of Jewish people around the world and for the State of Israel.”
Lord Eric Pickles
UK Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues, noted on behalf of his country that Jewish identity was an important and significant part of British identity, and that the fight against anti-Semitism was for Britain as a whole. His French colleague, Special Representative on Racism, Anti-Semitism and Discrimination Frédéric Potier, said “this is the time for initiating action, not just making speeches.” German Government Commissioner on Anti-Semitism Dr. Felix Klein added, “anti-Semitism is taking on new guises and working together around the world is vital. This is a global issue and we must join hands to fight it. A strong international reaction must be part of the solution.”
Katherina von Schnurbein
European Commission Coordinator on combatting Antisemitism: “In this campaign, we face challenges around legitimate discussions on the banning of Kosher slaughter of animals, or the banning of circumcision. What we have in common is that we manage to overcome these challenges together. We have seen 180-degree changes in the positions of countries after we hold discussions and joint activities. Things can change. We must continue our work because it can lead to change. As someone who saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, something we thought could never happen, I know to say that change is possible.”
Following the meeting
with the coordinators, the president hosted a conference on combatting anti-Semitism, marking the anniversary of Kristallnacht, titled “Rising Anti-Semitism – the New Reality For Jews Around The World”. The conference was organized in collaboration with the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, Gesher and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In his remarks opening the conference, the president said, “Soon, we will mark the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht. We must always remember that if anti-Semitism is not stopped in time, it quickly goes from words to broken glass, violence and murder. We must take bold action. We must be extremely concerned that anti-Semitism is rising around the world.”
“It is inconceivable that 81 years after Kristallnacht, synagogues from Pittsburgh to Halle are under attack,” the president added. “It is inconceivable that Jews are afraid to wear a kippah in the street, and that Jewish schoolchildren feel the need to hide their identity. We must not accept the fact that in marches in Belgium, on the pages of the New York Times, and in official media across the Arab world, anti-Semitic cartoons are printed and displayed. Anti-Semitism has developed and adopted new guises. It comes from the hard right, the hard left and from radical Islam, is expressed online, in the streets, in academia and in more and more positions of power. Anti-Semitism is spreading to parliaments and political parties in the west – the British Labour Party and the Austrian hard-right party, and in other countries.
“We must act now,” said the president. “We must use all legal tools at our disposal to prevent hate crimes and to prosecute them. We must ensure the security of Jewish communities, not just accept as fact that schools and synagogues needs guards, walls and gates That is not normal! Security does not solve the problem of anti-Semitism, it just shows its severity. In the field of education, we must find new ways to pass on the legacy of the Holocaust to a generation of young people who will never know survivors. We must develop regulations and technology to prevent anti-Semitism and incitement on social networks. Social networks can be a wonderful way of bringing people together around the world. But they also allow radicals to spread incitement around the world. All of us – governments, internet companies and civil society, must play our part in standing up to this threat, before online hate leads to another real-world tragedy.”
The president also added
“to fight anti-Semitism we need to define it. We must adopt and use the IHRA definition, which takes into account all forms of anti-Jewish hatred. These definitions must be adopted at all levels.” At the end of his remarks, the president said, “Friends, this is an urgent challenge and the only way to face it is by working together. That is why invited you, special representatives and coordinators in the fight against anti-Semitism, to this meeting.”
Attached photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)