The denial of the Holocaust by Iran is a political tool and a method of propaganda, in its campaign to de-legitimize the State of Israel.
The fact that so many heads of major organizations, leaders of communities, intellectuals and experts in the field are here today, demonstrates the feeling of urgency that we all share. I am sure that we all share a sense of mission – that something must be done immediately.
We all know to well the seriousness of the challenge. This conference is not intended just for an exchange of theoretical opinions. The objective of this conference is to produce new, innovative and practical initiatives for meeting the threats which face us.
I wish to extend a warm welcome to the 160 participants, including 80 participants from abroad, who share this sense of mission and will work together with this objective in mind.
Only this last Friday, Ilan Halimi, z"l, was brought to final rest in Jerusalem. Ilan was tortured for more than three weeks, and then brutally murdered, for one reason only – because he was a Jew. His kidnappers believed the stereotypes of Jews, assuming that his family would be able to recruit large sums of money. And if not – who cares – they would kill another Jew.
The case of Ilan Halimi proves that words and anti-Semitic stereotypes do kill. Ilan Halimi’s case demonstrates that anti-Semitism is as alive as ever.
Anti-Semitism has persecuted the Jewish nation throughout its history – since ancient times – and it is also raising its ugly head across the world even in our modern days – even now. The lessons were not learnt. Who would have believed that only sixty years after the Holocaust, after the world swore “never again”, we will still stand and have to address the threat of racism and anti-Semitism.
We fight this war for the existence of the State of Israel and against anti-Semitism, together, on several fronts:
This is a battle to be fought, first and foremost, by the State of Israel, as the Jewish homeland. This is a battle to be fought by the entire Jewish nation. And this should also be the battle fought by the free world, which we must recruit.
You might be surprised how easy it is to recruit international support, if we just show determination. Only this weekend I met with the King of Spain, in a special place – where the Jews have payed a dear price , as Jews. I requested that he issue a declaration marking the convening of the Forum, and I already have this declaration in my hand – it will be read after I conclude my words. Thus, it is not such a difficult mission to recruit the support of international leaders.
Nevertheless, we witness clear manifestations of anti-Semitism, led by some leaders of states. The most obvious is Iran.
The denial of the Holocaust by Iran is a political tool and a method of propaganda, in its campaign to de-legitimize the State of Israel. It is unacceptable that a UN member state denies the facts of the Shoah, calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, pursues weapons of mass destruction – and continues to be accepted as a legitimate member of the family of nations.
Iran is a danger and a threat – an obvious case. The easy case is the most obvious one. But, unfortunately, we must also be aware of the fact that there are additional processes taking place behind the scenes
The modern anti-Semitism is spreading from the fringes to the mainstream, in parallel with the growth of radical Islamic ideology in Europe. It poses a significant threat. We are witnessing new types of cooperation between the racist right, radical left and Jihadist Muslims in this campaign. It appears also in the modern states in different types of formations. We cannot afford to cast a blind eye to this phenomena, which reflects the persistence of the old, classic anti-Semitism – the desecration of synagogues, attacks on Jewish institutions, physical assault of Jews, and publication of hate literature such as the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion".
It is important to note a growing awareness of governments and international organizations to the nature of the threat, and of the need to combat these forms of anti-Semitism and racism. I will mention only a few examples of international engagement and activity: the Berlin and Cordoba OSCE conferences; the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution declaring the International Remembrance Day of the Holocaust; the recent UNGA resolution against the denial of the Holocaust; the rapid expansion of the International Task Force for the Remembrance and Education of the Holocaust,
Yet, it is not enough. In order to advance, it is not enough just to talk, we must take action.
We need to focus on practical and concrete steps to be taken. We must focus on promoting the Global Forum as a permanent and world encompassing mechanism, in order to:
– Map out the needs and priorities;
– Identify the areas for immediate action, and suggest both short-term and long-term strategies;
– Establish concrete and active programs;
– Be more effective;
– Achieve long lasting results.
I would suggest focusing, amongst others, on the following topics:
– Elevating the issue of fighting global anti-Semitism to a central place of priority – in Israeli and international foreign policy.
– The launching of a public campaign against Iran – using legal methods, diplomatic channels, public protest and effective PR.
– Pushing forward an official indictment against Ahmadinejad for violations of international treaties.
– Defining distinctive strategies for classical anti-Semitism and the new modern anti-Semitism.
– The building of coalitions with like-minded people, Jews and non-Jews, including NGO’s, parliamentarians, friendship leagues, and other value orientated forces of good-will, to combat this threat.
– The planning of diplomatic campaigns, against incitement of an anti-Semitic nature, especially in light of the hatred material and propaganda coming out of the Muslim and Arab world.
In summary, friends, we are gathered here today and blessed with tremendous intellectual resources and immense practical experience. We have to be proactive in our approach. We need to work in unity, on all levels, to make a difference.
Lastly – to remember and not forget. To remember the atrocities of the past – and to make sure that such events do not repeat themselves. Enough is enough.