”In light of the rise in anti-Semitism, I ask of all the elements present here to join forces in order to oppress it, with all the means at their disposal,” said MK Yoel Razvozov (Yesh Atid) on Monday during a discussion held at the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, which he heads.
During the debate, which was held amid an increase in the display of anti-Semitic gestures, particularly the inverted Nazi salute, Razvozov called on European countries to ”raise the awareness about anti-Semitism and take steps for the eradication of anti-Semitism and the promotion of tolerance. At this point (anti-Semitism) is only a movement, but if we fail to act with resolve it may develop into violent action.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein (Likud-Yisrael Beitenu) stressed that anti-Semitism exists also in democratic countries that are allies of the State of Israel. Edelstein presented a poll showing that one in every five Jews in Europe has experienced anti-Semitism and that one in three are considering the possibility of leaving their home countries because of the phenomenon. ”These statistics are worrying, and they should mainly concern the governments and law enforcement agencies in these countries. We must remember that these acts begin with Jews, but do not end with them. We must eradicate these phenomena,” he told the meeting.
Ido Daniel, the National Program Coordinator of the ”Students Combating Online Anti-Semitism” program in the National Union of Israeli Students, spoke about the origin of the ”quenelle” – the inverted Nazi salute invented by French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala.
The first secretary at the French Embassy noted that the French government has condemned the Nazi salute, adding that the French interior minister demanded that legal action be taken in order to ban the performances of Dieudonné M’bala M’bala. According to the French Embassy official, the comedian has attacked reporters and Jews. ”There is a problem of anti-Semitism, and the French government is trying to deal with the phenomenon and guarantee the safety of France`s Jews – in the communities and in the schools,” he said.
Yesh Atid MK Ronen Hoffman described the wave of anti-Semitism in Europe as a ”tsunami,” while MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud-Yisrael Beitenu) discussed Nicolas Anelka`s celebration of a goal with the inverted Nazi salute. ”French soccer players who display anti-Semitic characteristics are former stars who use anti-Semitism to gain support. Anti-Semitism is not a danger to the State of Israel; it is first and foremost a danger to the countries themselves and to the leadership of the Christian world,” he said.
Yaakov Haguel, head of the World Zionist Organization`s Department for Countering Anti-Semitism, said ”I have no doubt that we are at the peak of a slippery slope. Anti-Semitic incidents are growing both in number and intensity. The Jews are closing themselves up. This is not a logical reality. Jewish children should not have to go to school with a police escort.” The fight against anti-Semitism, Haguel said, ”is the fight of the enlightened world.”
Oded Ben-Hur, the Knesset`s diplomatic advisor, said the inverted Nazi salute is the symptom, not the problem. ”We mustn`t deal with the inverted Nazi salute because it will not be outlawed,” he told the committee. ”We should focus on education. There is an undercurrent of anti-Semites who are unaware that they (are anti-Semites); they repeat things they heard (at home), in church or at the mosque. The solution lies in education.”
Committee Chairman Razvozov concluded the meeting by saying that ”we must be united” in the face of the rising anti-Semitism in Europe and ”protect ourselves in Israel and abroad.” Addressing Anelka`s inverted Nazi salute, the MK said ”we mustn`t ignore the gestures of (athletes) and we must make sure that the European countries prosecute them to the full extent of the law. I call on all the ministries and bodies that deal with anti-Semitism to sit together and formulate a work plan that will be implemented under one body in order to eradicate the phenomenon.”