The fourth annual Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism attracted five hundred participants from 50 countries and six religions to Jerusalem this week to tackle the daunting challenge of resurgent global anti-Semitism.
The conference, sponsored jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, opened with videotaped remarks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (embedded below).
“There have long been two myths: that the Holocaust would put an end to anti-Semitism, and that the State of Israel would do so,” he said. “That didn’t happen. The anti-Semites simply took a respite after the Holocaust, and now hide their anti-Semitism with anti-Israelism.”
Netanyahu identified three false allegations often cited by anti-Semites.
The first is that Israel is guilty of war crimes. We, who fight war criminals with measured means, whose cities are attacked by terrorists who fire from built-up areas and try to pinpoint the rocketeers – we are accused of war crimes by the war criminals. That is one facet of the vilification that we experience.
The second is that we are expansionists, we don’t want peace, we never agree to compromise. That’s patently false. The State of Israel repeatedly has offered concessions, has made concessions for peace that no other people, no other state has made in history. I don’t know of any other case in which the victor made concessions in order to achieve peace, but we’ve done it again and again.
We are prepared to compromise for peace – for a genuine peace. This is our most reverent hope, to live in peace with our neighbors. It is not reciprocated as much as we want, and recently it is not reciprocated at all. We can only hope that it will change.
The third argument is that we are violators of human rights. Did you hear that? Israel, the one country in the vast expanse that recognizes the rights of everyone – women, minorities, every individual – who have access to the best court system in the world. Israel has a free press and a vibrant democracy, and Israel is accused of violating human rights. This is when in our neighborhood hundreds of people are killed daily, massacred daily in neighboring regimes.
Naftali Bennett, the newly appointed minister for diaspora affairs declared that Israel is and would remain the nation-state of the Jewish people, following the example of other countries with core identities. Bennett also warned that genocidal anti-Jewish actions are preceded by dehumanization.
“It was that way in the Persia of Haman’s day, and in Nazi Germany and we hear it today in Iran,” he said. “Israel is the land of the Jews. We’re here and we’re here to stay, and we won’t be silent anymore.”