Combating Anti-Semitism: It’s About Time

Welcome to “Israeli Apartheid Week,” the fifth such global event, which runs this year from March 1 to 8 and is designed, its organizers say, to “educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system.”

With activities in over 40 cities from Berkeley to Johannesburg, this yearly event is designed to build support for sanctions against Israel as well as boycotts of, and divestments from, Israelrelated individuals and institutions.

“Israel Apartheid Week,” however, is merely a piece of the larger puzzle – the global focus on Israel as supposedly the world’s biggest abuser of human rights and its most serious threat to peace.

Israel-bashing (as opposed to an even-handed critique of Israeli policy) reflects something even more odious – a resurgence of anti-Semitism that is manifesting itself in a growing number of threats against, and attacks on, Jews not just in the Middle East but in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.

Fortunately, some global leaders are beginning to take note. Late last month, 125 lawmakers from 40 countries met for three days in London to address this uptick in the world’s oldest from of bigotry, and they crafted a program of action called the “London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism.”

“We call upon national governments, parliaments, international institutions, political and civic leaders, NGOs, and civil society,” they wrote, “to affirm democratic and human values, build societies based on respect and citizenship and combat any manifestations of anti-Semitism and discrimination.”

After reviewing the “dramatic increase” in attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions and expressing “alarm” at both the return of the old language of prejudice against Jews and at statesupported genocidal anti-Semitism, the leaders pledged to launch a multi-faceted effort to address the problem.

They resolved, among other things, to expose leaders and governments that practice antiSemitism and to challenge multi-national institutions to do the same; to challenge governments to address anti-Semitic and genocidal incitement; to encourage governments to document and investigate anti-Semitism; and to raise awareness of anti-Semitism by training police, prosecutors and judges and teaching the Holocaust in schools.

While their agenda is laudable, their challenge is huge. From the United Nations to the centers of power in Iran and Venezuela to the streets of major cities across the world, it is increasingly open season on Jews and the Jewish State.

At the UN and under the auspices of its oxymoronic Human Rights Council, a 20-nation committee, chaired by Libya, is making plans for “Durban II” – a follow up to the notorious 2001 conference on human rights in Durban, South Africa that deteriorated into such a cesspool of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism that Secretary of State Colin Powell ordered the U.S. delegation to leave.

Based on the documents that it has produced so far, Durban II has all the makings of its predecessor. Israel and Canada have said they will not attend, and the United States and Europe may well follow.

In Iran, the radical regime reiterates its threat to annihilate Israel and to pursue the nuclear weapons to follow through on it. In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez, who has nourished increasingly close ties to Tehran, accused Israel of “genocide” in Gaza and cut ties with the Jewish State.

As if on cue, Venezuela’s government-sponsored media launched an anti-Semitic campaign on the airwaves and in print. Meanwhile, vandals painted anti-Semitic slogans on the walls of Jewish institutions and businesses.

Across Europe, attacks on Jews are up, fueled by opposition to Israel’s retaliation against rocket attacks from Gaza and by the global economic crisis that encourages its victims to find a convenient scapegoat.

British Parliamentarian Denis McShane says Jewish students at the London School of Economics face abuse by Islamist students, and “Kill the Jews” graffiti is appearing near synagogues in London.

In anti-Israel demonstrations in Berlin, protestors held signs that read “It was a good idea to use gas” and “I’m anti-Semitic and that’s a good thing.” In Milan, graffiti urges citizens not to buy from Jewish-owned stores. In Toronto, a Muslin protestor shouted, “Jewish child, you’re gonna f. . .’n die.”

The United States is not immune to such ugliness. In Los Angeles, Muslim demonstrators yelled, “Long live Hitler. Put Jews in ovens. Jews are fossil fuel.” In Fort Lauderdale, demonstrators yelled, “Nuke, nuke Israel” and “Go back to the ovens.”

By themselves, the 125 lawmakers who gathered in London will not eliminate anti-Semitism. But here’s hoping they make a dent – and that other lawmakers joined the effort to address this spreading global disease.

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