Address by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman
to the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism
Ministers, ambassadors, distinguished guests, shalom and welcome to Yerushalayim [Jerusalem].
Let me begin by thanking you all today for participating in the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, the largest international body coordinating efforts to counter antisemitism worldwide. Your presence here, representing more than 50 countries, is a testament to the gravity of the current situation and the urgent need to stand firm against antisemitism in all its forms around the world.
Antisemitism is the oldest prejudice in the world and goes beyond geographical boundaries: from Holocaust denial to questioning Israel’s right to exist; from organizing anti-Israeli events on campuses, to attacking innocent Jews on the way to the synagogue.
Just a few examples of anti-Semitic acts are the 2006 murder of a young Jewish man named Ilan Halimi in France, or the 2006 attack on the Lubavitch synagogue in Moscow, and even more recently, the 2009 attack on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
Classic antisemitism, along with Iranian-sponsored and Islamic antisemitism, are used to incite hatred for the Jews, but are also used as a mode of delegitimization of Israel. Delegitimization of Israel, which has only increased since the first Durban Conference in 2001, is the latest expression of a new antisemitism.
There is no other sovereign country in the world whose right to exist as a state is being challenged like Israel’s right is. This is a sophisticated attack that has caught the attention of anti-Semites all over the world, both individuals and NGOs. Those who stand behind it have crossed the line. They seek to destroy the Jewish state piece by piece. They are denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. They call for academic boycotts, economic sanctions, and they gain growing support in international political circles.
Their stand is clearly hypocritical. Just recently we saw these so-called human rights NGOs work obsessively to delegitimize Israel by adopting the Goldstone Report of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Members of this council made accusations against Israel for violating human rights, but, sadly enough, they ignored the fact that in all this region, from Zimbabwe to Bangladesh, there is no other country that fights to ensure human rights like Israel does. As it turns out, the most "democratic" countries in the world, like North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Cuba and others – the countries that voted against Israel in the United Nations and in Geneva – themselves demonstrate (of course!) a strong commitment to "human rights" and "democracy."
It is scary that only 60 years after the horrors of the Holocaust we see an example of state-sponsored antisemitism in Iran. Iran denies the Holocaust, calls for the destruction of Israel as a member of the United Nations, and pursues nuclear weapons. All of these factors are a reminder of what happened 70 years ago.
Another alarming phenomenon is the growing spread of Islamic antisemitism. Waves of attacks on Jewish communities around the world have become more extreme, intense and vocal than ever. We see textbooks, TV programs, mass media and academic publications in the Arab and Muslim world that are filled with hostile propaganda. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is only one example.
We see Muslim anti-Semites using classic anti-Semitic motifs, such as the killing of Jesus and the "big-nosed greedy Orthodox Jew" that were used by the Nazis. We are also witnessing the rise of classic nationalist Jew-hatred, along with Holocaust denial and revisionism, not only in Europe, but as far as South America. The reappearance of what we hoped was a forgotten prejudice is very disturbing.
All of these forces, state-sponsored antisemitism, the delegitimization of Israel by the radical Left, Islamic antisemitism, and right-wing classic antisemitism, are cooperating in the campaign to destroy the State of Israel.
Let it be clear that fighting antisemitism is not only a Jewish problem but a global challenge that affects people of every nation, and it needs to be dealt with by the entire global community. I call upon those who respect basic moral values and human freedom to speak out, roll up your sleeves and join forces to confront this sickness.
Having said that, I am proud to recognize this forum for establishing the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism. The ICCA brings together parliamentarians from around the world to advance its principal purposes, to share knowledge, experience, recommendations and actions in the attempt to successfully confront contemporary antisemitism.
Tonight, in a ceremony at the Knesset, we will express our appreciation to the founders of the ICCA. We are also proud that for its 10th anniversary, Israel will be the next chair of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. Our delegation will be headed by Dan Tichon, former Speaker of the Knesset.
Distinguished guests, today more than 60 years after the horrors of the Shoah, and as there are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors, it is our moral responsibility and obligation to the victims and survivors to continue to preserve their memory, to assure this does not happen again. Never again.
Finally, perhaps we can never achieve all of our goals, but this should not discourage us from acting as if we can. Our mission is challenging, and there is much work ahead for us to do. Our purpose here in the coming two days is demanding, challenging and requires us to work together to search for the best ways to combat the danger of antisemitism. Our agenda is clear: to help eliminate antisemitism. I wish us much success in this mission.