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The Global Institutionalization of Anti-Semitism

Irwin Cotler is Canada’s former minister of justice and attorney-general and is widely respected as an authority on international law. His recent editorial in the Jerusalem Post is worth reading.

Some 125 parliamentarians gathered together last week for the historic founding conference of the Interparliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA), brought together by a new sophisticated, globalizing, virulent and even lethal anti-Semitism reminiscent of the atmospherics of the 1930s, and without parallel or precedent since the end of World War II.

The new anti-Jewishness overlaps with classical anti-Semitism but is distinguishable from it.

In a word, classical or traditional anti-Semitism is the discrimination against, denial of or assault upon the rights of Jews to live as equal members of whatever host society they inhabit. The new anti-Semitism involves the discrimination against the right of the Jewish people to live as an equal member of the family of nations – the denial of and assault upon the Jewish people’s right even to live – with Israel as the “collective Jew among the nations.”

There are three manifestations of this genocidal anti-Semitism. The first is the state-sanctioned – indeed state-orchestrated – genocidal anti-Semitism of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran, dramatized by the parading in the streets of Teheran of a Shihab-3 missile draped in the emblem “wipe Israel off the Map,” while demonizing both the State of Israel as a “cancerous tumor to be excised” and the Jewish people as “evil incarnate.”

A second manifestation of this genocidal anti-Semitism is in the covenants and charters, platforms and policies of such terrorist movements and militias as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah and al-Qaida, which not only call for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews wherever they may be, but also for the perpetration of acts of terror in furtherance of that objective.

The third manifestation of this genocidal anti-Semitism is the religious fatwas or execution writs, where these genocidal calls in mosques and media are held out as religious obligations – where Jews and Judaism are characterized as the perfidious enemy of Islam, and Israel becomes the Salman Rushdie of the nations.

In a word, Israel is the only state in the world – and the Jews the only people in the world – that are the object of a standing set of threats by governmental, religious and terrorist bodies seeking their destruction. The London Declaration – again in a significant clarion call – recognized that “where there is incitement to genocide signatories [to the Genocide Convention] automatically have an obligation to act.” This promise must now be acted upon.

….


Ideological anti-Semitism is a much more sophisticated and arguably a more pernicious expression of the new anti-Semitism. It finds expression not in any genocidal incitement against Jews and Israel, or overt racist denial of the Jewish people and Israel’s right to be; rather, ideological anti-Semitism disguises itself as part of the struggle against racism.

The first manifestation of this ideological anti-Semitism was its institutional and juridical anchorage in the “Zionism is racism” resolution at the UN. Notwithstanding the fact that the there was a formal repeal of this resolution, Zionism as racism remains alive and well in the global arena, particularly in the campus cultures of North America and Europe, as confirmed by the recent British All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism.

The second manifestation is the indictment of Israel as an apartheid state. This involves more than the simple indictment; it also involves the call for the dismantling of Israel as an apartheid state as evidenced by the events at the 2001 UN World Conference against Racism in Durban.

The third manifestation of ideological anti-Semitism involves the characterization of Israel not only as an apartheid state – and one that must be dismantled as part of the struggle against racism – but as a Nazi one.

And so it is then that Israel is delegitimized, if not demonized, by the ascription to it of the two most scurrilous indictments of 20th-century racism – Nazism and apartheid – the embodiment of all evil. These very labels of Zionism and Israel as “racist, apartheid and Nazi” supply the criminal indictment. No further debate is required. The conviction that this triple racism warrants the dismantling of Israel as a moral obligation has been secured. For who would deny that a “racist, apartheid, Nazi” state should not have any right to exist today?

….

If ideological anti-Semitism seeks to mask itself under the banner of anti-racism, legalized anti-Semitism is even more sophisticated and insidious. Here, anti-Semitism simultaneously seeks to mask itself under the banner of human rights, to invoke the authority of international law and to operate under the protective cover of the UN. In a word – and in an inversion of human rights, language and law – the singling out of Israel and the Jewish people for differential and discriminatory treatment in the international arena is “legalized.”

But one example of legalized anti-Semitism occurred annually for more than 35 years at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. This influential body consistently began its annual session with Israel being the only country singled out for country-specific indictment – even before the deliberations started – the whole in breach of the UN’s own procedures and principles. In this Alice in Wonderland situation, the conviction and sentence were pronounced even before the hearings commenced. Some 30 percent of all the resolutions passed at the commission were indictments of Israel.

After the commission was replaced in June 2006 by the UN Human Rights Council, the new body proceeded to condemn one member state – Israel – in 80% of its 25 country-specific resolutions, while the major human rights violators of our time enjoyed exculpatory immunity. Indeed, five special sessions, two fact-finding missions and a high level commission of inquiry have been devoted to a single purpose: the singling out of Israel.

It is this global escalation and intensification of anti-Semitism that underpins – indeed, necessitates – the establishment of the ICCA to confront and combat this oldest and most enduring of hatreds. Silence is not an option. The time has come not only to sound the alarm – but to act. For as history has taught us only too well: While it may begin with Jews, it does not end with Jews. Anti-Semitism is the canary in the mine shaft of evil, and it threatens us all.

14 Comments

  1. ben

    2/24/2009 at 9:26 am

    i’d like to read the whole article but jpost’s website has been slower than my grandparents lately.

  2. Kung Fu Jew 18

    2/25/2009 at 6:03 pm

    If this anti-Semitism coming out of places like Iran is so powerful, so overwhelming, why are Iranian Jews so safe?

    Neither are any of the statistics about growing anti-Semitism in the world meaningful unless you’re comparing them to similar other -ism’s like Islamophobia, anti-black racism, and so on. I mean, people, these statistics are meaningless in saying that Jews have it worse than other peoples. I know the article above didn’t use them, but it’s a part of the same field of they-hate-us study.

    So without saying that terrorism doens’t exist or that Jew-hatred isn’t a significant problem for the vast majority of Jews who don’t live in safety of the US or Israel, I’m going to suggest that anti-Semitism doesn’t warrant the amount of attention it gets in our own press.

  3. themiddle

    2/25/2009 at 6:37 pm

    Um, Iranian Jews are representative of nothing. First, anybody talking to Cohen would have had to be on their guard lest they find themselves being accused of something like, you know, spying for Israel, down the road. Second, why are you so impressed that they are permitted to live their lives? Do you expect them to encounter harsh conditions all the time? When that happens, the Jewish state tends to absorb those Jews as it did with Ethiopian and Russian Jews in recent times and Jews from Arab and Muslim countries in the ’40s and ’50s.

    Cotler, however, is speaking about state-sanctioned antisemitism, the “covenants and charters, platforms and policies of such terrorist movements and militias as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah and al-Qaida, which not only call for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews wherever they may be” and religious fatwas such as those directed at Jews and at Israel. This seems fairly clear to me and as the countries where Jews are relatively comfortable and safe, it is incumbent upon us to speak up now about this issue.

  4. Kung Fu Jew 18

    2/25/2009 at 6:58 pm

    You’re right, we should speak up about it. So we issue a few press releases and get really worked up while reading Jewlicious. Then (maybe) we give a few bucks to the ADL.

    But Jews who live in places like Iran one would think are best placed to conduct anti-Semitism education don’t seem to make the noise that the ADL does. Like the Iranian Jews for example. Or many of the Jews who go regularly to the Arab world and do coexistance or dialogue work. There’s a fair number of them. And while I can’t say for sure, but the most vociferous voices about anti-Semitism seem to live in pretty well-contained Jewish environments without any experience in the worlds they claim to critique. The hearsay about anti-Semitism also only seems to grow more the less fluent said spokespeople are in languages like Arabic.

    So just in case my reasonability has overshadowed my message, I’m saying that anti-Semitism studies are a sham and a hobby of Jews who don’t know jack about the places they study from afar.

  5. TheMiddle

    2/25/2009 at 7:51 pm

    So in your opinion, the Jews of a country where the leader advocates the eradication of Israel and who refers to Israel in grotesque and belligerent terms are the Jews who can best assert for us whether antisemitism is a problem or not.

    Forgive me if I suspect that what you see on the surface is enough to raise substantive questions.

    Second, how do you explain what the UN Human Rights Commission does, what Hamas, Hizbullah – both supported by Iran, by the way – and Al Qaeda do? How do you explain the attempts to boycott Israel in Britain while completely absolving places like Russia or China from such boycott attempts? How do you explain young Muslim men in France targeting Jews, sometimes with mild attacks but sometimes with brutal murderous attacks? How about attacks on Jewish centers in North America like the one in Seattle?

    I mean, I don’t understand what you’re saying, that we should wait until it gets so horrific that it’s too late to change it? Or are you saying we really have little to worry about?

  6. BrazilianJew

    2/25/2009 at 8:44 pm

    Things are so good in Iran that nowadays there are between 11,000 and 25,000 Jews there as opposed to 80,000/100,000 in 1979. I wonder what happened. Maybe we should ask the family of Habib Elghanian. I like this story I read in NPR recently:
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100527987

    As for my experiences ith anti-semitism, I grew up in a country with a small Jewish community over a large geographic area (Brazil). I was about 6 years old the first time some kids told me they couldn’t play with me because Jews were the greediest people in the world and had killed Jesus. I heard it many more times until I turned 18 and came to the US. I heard it from other kids and their parents, all the classic anti-semitic charges.

    I think you are the one who has no idea what you are talking about, Kung Fu Jew. I think Jews in America have much less of an idea about the extent of anti-semitsm because you’ve always lived in a society where Jews have large numbers, there are laws that protect religious minorities and a separation between religion and state. Just because Jews can go and conduct business or visit Arab countries, it doesn’t mean that they would be allowed to live as equals in the eyes of the government or society as citizens in significant numbers.

    Everyone has the right to express their opinions on Israel’s policies. The problem is that what begins with valid demands on the settlements or territory always ends up with explicit accusations or subtle implications about Jews controlling the media, the banks, foreign policy, having double citizenship (i.e. being disloyal to the US) and Israelis being sadistic genocidal people who can’t wait to kill the next palestinian kid they come across.

    I’m really tired of all this discussion, I’m especially tired of some American Jews seeming to think that anti-semitism would magically disapear if Israel would just do whatever Palestinians demanded, and that all this anti-zionism talk is anything but anti-semitism. Zionism is supposed to be our word, to signify our right to self-determination, and we are letting this word be taken away from us by the ones who would like to see a world without a Jewish nation.

  7. themiddle

    2/26/2009 at 1:07 am

    Well, to those who believe that a world without Israel is one that somehow would eliminate antisemitism or improve the situation for Jews worldwide need only to consider the world prior to Israel’s existence.

  8. Kung Fu Jew 18

    2/26/2009 at 3:06 pm

    Quick question: is anyone here doing anything about anti-Semitism? Or just talking about it? Really, I don’t see anything any one of us can do if we’re not around anti-Semites on a regular basis.

  9. themiddle

    2/26/2009 at 5:04 pm

    I write about it.

    I try to educate people who don’t know much when I encounter them in real life.

    But to your broader question, Irwin Cotler’s article is exactly about doing something. He is one of the people behind this group of European parliamentarians who are unifying forces to find ways to counteract the spread of antisemitism.

    But what exactly do you have in mind, KFJ, when you challenge us to do something? What is there to be done?

  10. Kung Fu Jew 18

    2/26/2009 at 5:18 pm

    I’m curious what you suggest we do. This goes along with any reference to any kind of prejudice, whereafter I want to ask, “So what do you want me to do?”

    Personally, the biggest impact against anti-Semitism I ever had was hanging out with very angry Palestinians in the West Bank and demonstrating that we’re not all gun-carrying expansionists. I educated a handful that the Elders of Zion was a fake. It didn’t take a lot, just some relating of what Jews are really like outside their preconceptions. But I don’t see how we can make much of a difference if we don’t go out and meet people face-to-face. But that’s a tall order to ask, I don’t recommend it for everyone.

    I also think pushing for peace in the Middle East is the largest contribution to halting the spread of fresh material into anti-Semitic networks, but that’s a judgement of mine that says Israel’s actions are the biggest fuel for anti-Semites. Many people don’t agree.

    So other that those two suggestions, which are not widely popular, I think the majority of energy spent on this issue is really mispent.

  11. themiddle

    2/26/2009 at 5:34 pm

    Do you think the status of blacks and Jews in the US changed on their own?

  12. BrazilianJew

    2/26/2009 at 7:13 pm

    Let’s see, some pogroms by year:
    38 AD – Alexandria riots (Roman Empire)
    66-73 – First Roman-Jewish War
    115-117 – Kitos War
    132-135 – Bar Kokhba Revolt
    1096 – First recorded progroms in Europe (France and Germany)
    1011 – Cordoba (Al-Andaluz i.e. modern day Spain)
    1033 – Fez (Marrocco)
    1066 – Granada (Al-Andaluz)
    1348 – Throughout cities in present-day Germany, local population thought Jews were responsible for the spread of the Black Plague. (Of course!)
    1543 – Martin Luther’s “On Jews and Their Lies” calls for more progroms.
    1648-57 – Ucranian Cossacks
    1768-69 – Cossacks once again during the Koliyivschina
    19th and early 20th Century Russian Empire – Hundreds of incidents, the most “memorable” ones being the Kiev, Warsaw and Odessa pogroms.
    1821-29 – Greece during the war of independence
    1919- Argentina
    1927 – Romania
    Let’s not forget Muhammad’s encounters with the Banu Kainuka and the Banu Nadir. The mellahs in Marroco, the Almohad dinasty in Northen Africa, the 19th century massacres in Baghdad, and the Allahdad incident. Many lives were spared during those days in Muslim countries all a Jew had to do was convert. Oh my, I almost forgot the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions (15th and 16th centuries.)…actually I think that’s plenty of examples. What was the fuel then? The independence of Israel in 1948?

  13. BrazilianJew

    2/27/2009 at 6:03 pm

    dfc ufhe, and all your other names,

    You need a girlfriend, a life, some medication maybe.I hope all the times you copied your rants around this website made you feel better. I checked my email at work during lunch and there was you. I hope you have an actual job and don’t spend you days ranting on the internet.
    Israel is here to stay, you can cry all you want, that is not going to change. From your last post we can tell that you are a either a homophobe or a closet case (very bizarre your “It’s the same with Gays” comment)and an anti-semite who thinks that being internet “friends” with liberal American Jews gives you some special knowledge/right/stake on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

    You are a prime example of the new type of anti-semite, the one that can’t wait to make Nazi, apartheid analogies to Israel, and who thinks the ony good Jew is the Jew who doesn’t believe in zionism. You are going to find a lot of Jews ready to hear and join you in criticisms of Israel but no real Jew is against the existance to the state of Israel. You claim that Jews do not accept criticim, then you link to your Jewish “friend” whose blog is filled with criticism of Israel. You should take a breath before you click submit, your rage against Jews transpires through your typed words.

  14. Tori

    2/28/2009 at 1:53 am

    I actually feel sorry for Jews who think Israel is the cause of anti-Semitism. I never met any Jews who think like that, but there seem to be a lot of them online.

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