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First-ever Antisemitism Session at UN General Assembly: The More It Changes, the More It Stays the Same

New York—Last week, for the first time in 70 years, the United Nations—the forum which equated Zionism with racism and passed more than 500 resolutions sanctioning Israel—convened an informal session in the General Assembly chamber on the rise of antisemitic violence around the globe.

Of the 193 member states of the UN, half did not attend. Representatives from 50 countries were slated to speak for three minutes each during the plenary. Most of the speakers in the hall distanced themselves from the Middle-East conflict and spoke in terms of their countries efforts in Holocaust education and anti-hate legislation and the horrendous terrorist attacks in France.

Keynoter Bernard Henri-Levy, the French writer and philosopher said, “It is not true that antisemitism is just a form of racism. Both must be fought, of course, with equal determination. But one cannot fight what one does not understand.”

He said, “Nor is it true that the new antisemitism has, as one hears constantly, especially in the United States, its taproot in the Arab-Islamic world. In my country, for example, it has a double source that acts as a sort of double bind. There are, it is true, the many lost souls of a radical Islam that has become the most toxic opium invading the lost territories of our Republic. But there is also that old French monster that, since the Dreyfus Affair and Vichy, has slept with one eye open and, in the end, is not incompatible with the Islamo-fascist beast.

“And, finally, it is not accurate to say that the policy of a particular state—I am referring, obviously, to the state of Israel—generates antisemitism in the way clouds produce a storm. I have seen European capitals in which the destruction of the Jews was nearly total, yet where antisemitism still thrives. I have seen others, farther away, where no Jews have ever lived—yet where the word “Jew” is a synonym for the devil. And I say here that even if Israel’s conduct were exemplary, even if Israel were a nation of angels, even if the Palestinians were granted the state that is their right, even then, alas, this old, enigmatic hatred would not dissipate one iota.”

He spoke of what is considered the new antisemitism: “1. The Jews are detestable because they are assumed to support an evil, illegitimate, murderous state. This is the anti-Zionist delirium of the merciless adversaries of the re-establishment of the Jews in their historical homeland.

“2. The Jews are all the more detestable because they are believed to base their beloved Israel on imaginary suffering, or suffering that at the very least has been outrageously exaggerated. This is the infamous denial of the Holocaust.

“3. In so doing, the Jews would commit a third and final crime that could make them still more guilty, which is to impose on us the memory of their dead, to completely stifle other peoples’ memories, and to overshadow other martyrs whose deaths have plunged parts of today’s world, most emblematically that of the Palestinians, into mourning. And here we come face to face with the stupidity that is competitive victimhood.

“Antisemitism needs these three formulations, which are the vital components of a moral atomic bomb.”

Shortly after his speech examples of this formula were evident in other statements.

Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador Abdallah Al-Moualimi representing the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation said “We have witnessed with growing concern the increase in hate crimes around the world, and we are very concerned because some arbitrarily reject their responsibilities in this regard…Antisemitism and Islamophobia and all crimes that are based on religious hate are inextricably linked, they’re inseparable.”

However another part of Al-Moualimi which has not been widely reported was, “We condemn all acts and speech that lead to antisemitism and Islamophobia. Practices of colonization and occupation also fuels antisemitism. The persecution of the Palestinian people and the denial of their human rights—this is also an example of antisemitism.”

Ted E. Deutch, the US Congressman from Florida’s 21st district presented a different perspective in his address during a panel discussion stating, “Antisemites have hatred in their hearts and when they come for the Jews you should expect that hatred will be directed at other groups as well. Antisemitism is the bell-warning that the basis for liberal societies is at risk.”

He said, “Antisemitism often arises under a pretense, a pretense of criticism of the Israeli government’s policies. Let me state unequivocally when your goal is incitement against Jews, when your goal is to deny a state to the Jewish people and when you resort to as Natan Sharansky coined the three Ds, categorical demonization, double standards and delegitimization of Israel you have moved beyond political statements. This is antisemitism, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, is an example of a biased movement that blurs the line of anti-Israel and antisemitic beliefs by focusing on the free and thriving democracy in the region while ignoring the countries where egregious human rights violations are state policy and daily practice.”

By Anne Phyllis Pinzow

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