Anti-Semitism is racism and must be addressed as such

7th Global Forum to Combat Anti-Semitism
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AP/ARIEL SCHALIT  -   Image of Israelis

The 7th Global Forum on Combating Anti-Semitism, organised by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, was held under the theme 'Collective Efforts for Collective Impact' in Jerusalem on 13-15 July. Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai said that violence in Israel makes targets of Jewish communities around the world. He also expressed concern about how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is linked to other liberal causes around the world, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, which argues that they are all victims of the same oppressive system, of which Israel is a part.

During the online briefing on 14 July, speakers included Charles Small, a specialist on antisemitism within radical Islam and founder and director of the Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and Global Policy; Amanda Berman, founder and Executive Director of the Zioness Movement; Shimon Samuels, Director of International Relations at the Wiesenthal Center; and Daniel Loercher, Head of Corporate Responsibility at German football club Borussia Dortmund, who addresses antisemitism in sport and especially in football.

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This year's forum was attended by 180 guests from around the world, joined by hundreds who attended virtually. The conference focuses on social media and the rise of anti-Semitism following Operation Wall Guardian in May. It seeks to create a plan of action to combat Jew-hatred and to emphasise that anti-Semitism is racism, and therefore must be combated.

In relation to the issue, Charles Small commented on one of the research projects carried out by the Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and Global Policy, called 'Follow the money'. In its report, it states that money flows from Muslim Brotherhood foundations to reputable universities such as Yale University. These financial contributions were not reported by the universities and a federal investigation was launched.

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According to Small, the infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood and its ideas into major prestigious universities is very worrying, as people who claim to be progressive adopt this ideology that oppresses women, is homophobic and anti-democratic.

He said that the mantra in major US newspapers is that the roles of the holocaust have been turned around, and Jews "oppress" Palestinians. This discourse is anti-Semitic and threatens not only Jews, but the Western way of life and democracy, as it puts the great institutions of democratic countries at risk.

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Amanda Berman is the founder and executive director of the Zioness Movement, a new initiative that seeks to empower and activate Zionists on the progressive left to proudly stand up in social justice spaces as Jews and Zionists. During the conference, he said that it does not make sense that there are movements for American ethnic minorities and not the same for Jews, who continue to be discriminated against.

She said there is a social trend in which more attention is paid to those who make the most noise in the media than to the majority of the population who make less noise. This is the case with anti-Zionism, which is the opposition to Zionism or Jewish nationalism that advocates the creation and maintenance of a nation state of its own in Palestine, the State of Israel. It argues that the majority of the American population supports the state of Israel, but the discourse against it is more provocative and therefore more widespread.

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Shimon Samuels spoke of the importance of bringing perpetrators of violence against Jews and anti-Semites to justice. He gave as an example the controversial murder of Sarah Halimi's, a 65-year-old Jewish woman. At the end of April this year, some 25,000 people mobilised in Paris and other French cities, as well as in Israel. The protests were sparked after a court ruled that the man acted under a state of "insanity", induced by drug (marijuana) abuse, which prevents him from being tried under the country's laws. Samuels said that regardless of the state of insanity of the assailant, this is a hate crime and should be prosecuted as such. He added that not only judicial but also educational measures must be taken to curb anti-Semitism.

Daniel Loercher spoke of the fact that anti-Semitism is not only a problem of education of the younger generations, but concerns the whole of society, all age groups. From his programme, he tries to run workshops to educate the population and offers tools for those who witness or suffer anti-Semitic violence to ask for help. He argued that as football players are role models for the fans, such initiatives send an important message to the population. 

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In the round of questions in the briefing at the end of the conference, the question was asked: how to avoid shouting racist or anti-Semitic slogans at football matches? Samuels and Loercher answered that this is not just a problem for the football club or the stadium where it occurs, but for FIFA. For this reason, there are specific FIFA measures, such as stopping the match. On the other hand, it also helps if the football club makes very specific statements about the problem. Loercher argued that it is not enough to say "we are in favour of diversity" but to directly address the situation, "this is what happened", "this is anti-Semitic", "this is what was said", in order to raise awareness.

The session closed with the following question: What can be done to eradicate anti-Semitism? The most important thing is to define the problem in order to raise awareness among the population so that they themselves are able to identify when they are confronted with it. Finally, the role of the media, universities and students as drivers of change was highlighted.