Anti-Semitism is on the Rise
by Yossi Olmert - December, 28 2001
French Ambassador to the UK Daniel Bernard criticized Israel using undiplomatic and slanderous terms, yet nothing happened to him, and the right honorable gentleman continues to serve and poison the atmosphere against the Jewish people and Israel.
A specific comment along the lines of Bernard's remarks in itself is not a cause for any undue excitement among Jews in general, and Israelis in particular. The problem is that this is just another symptom of a growing and fast-spreading disease - in fact, a very old one called anti-Semitism.
Israelis and Jews don't always like to accept the harsh realities of the current situation, but the truth is that we are being subjected to a well-orchestrated campaign which is the direct result of Palestinian incitement and UN collaboration as was amply demonstrated in the notorious Durban Conference.
The writing is all over the walls - synagogues are attacked, editorials and press reports resemble, in some countries such as France, Belgium and Britain, articles in Der Sturmer rather than even-handed reports about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and growing numbers of Jews are feeling more insecure than ever before. Some of these Jews resort to Israel-bashing as a way out of the embarrassment and concern caused by the relentless attacks on Israel.
Other Jews just brush all this aside and tend to underestimate the ferocity of the current onslaught. Others are simply indifferent. Only a small minority grasps the extent of the problems and looks for a way to respond properly, as is the case in Israel itself.
We are flooded with press reports about anti-Semitic incidents, yet what are we doing? Almost nothing. Deputy Minister Michael Melchior is keeping track of anti-Semitic incidents, Foreign Ministry representatives send back reports, but in actual terms, nothing happens.
The proper response should consist of three fundamental elements. First, we should define the problem as it really is and acknowledge the fact that we are being subjected to a world-wide campaign, and not an accumulation of separate incidents.
Secondly, the Israeli government should develop a strategy to deal with the problem, with the first and most important action being to turn the question of anti-Semitism into a litmus test of the relationships between us and other countries.
Let's take, for example, Belgium's handling of the case against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. It is totally inconceivable that while agencies and departments of the Belgium state are going overboard to press charges against our prime minister, Sharon met with the Belgian prime minister, even though he represented the European Union. This Belgian head of state ought to have been told bluntly that he could not be a partner to any meaningful talks with an Israeli governmentwhile its head is being charged with unheard of allegations in a Belgian court.
Israeli government agencies should not cooperate with newspapers such as the "independent" Nouvelle Observature and Le Soir which all published blatant anti-Semitic articles and cartoons. There are numerous additional examples as to what could be done by official representatives of the State of Israel when confronted with anti-Jewish bias. Israel is, after all, the state of the Jewish people.
On top of all that, Israel should make it a pre-condition for any talks with the Palestinian Authority that our "partners" (?) should immediately cease any physical, as well as verbal violence against Jews, both in Israel and abroad, and that means that they should stop their support of anti-Jewish resolutions in world forums.
Thirdly, Diaspora Jewry, through bodies such as the Jewish Agency, should mobilize themselves to mount a world-wide campaign against the forces of evil which have raised their ugly heads yet again. A boycott against the Spanish company "Zara" is most welcome but not enough. More could and should be done, and the sooner the better.
What we are talking about is a sustained and coordinated Jewish campaign against those who seek, 60 years after the Second World War, to again delegitimize Jews and the state of the Jews.
The difference is that we are far stronger now and we have friends - not just fellow Jews - who could rally to our cause. In this struggle, as in others, we need a clear definition of the serious situation we are in and our objectives in dealing with it.
We should be able to automatically expect this from our leadership. The question is whether we have one. Time will tell, and time is running out.
©2001 - Jerusalem Post