Washington, D.C., April 14, 2010 … In testimony today before a Congressional panel in Washington, D.C., the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) outlined the major threats facing Jews around the globe and described how the singling out of Israel in public discourse was "providing cover for the re-emergence of age-old anti-Semitic themes and conspiracy theories" and their violent expression through hate crimes, harassment and vandalism.
"In the decades after the Holocaust shook the conscience of the world, anti-Semitism seemed off limits in civil debate and in society," Kenneth Jacobson, ADL Deputy National Director said in testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight.
"Those constraints have eroded over time, and the singling out of Israel in the public discourse as a human rights pariah unleashes and provides cover for the re-emergence of age-old anti-Semitic themes and conspiracy theories."
Mr. Jacobson pointed to the anti-Semitic backlash that erupted in public protests in many cities around the world during Israel's December 2008–January 2009 military operation in Gaza as an example of how tensions in the Arab-Israeli conflict can bring anti-Semitism to the surface, particularly in Europe, the Arab and Muslim world, and some Latin American countries.
"Expressing disagreement with Israeli action through violence against one's Jewish neighbor or the Jewish community is untenable and a violation of rights. Yet, as Israel defended her citizens from Hamas' missiles, Jews around the world also came under attack. Anti-Israel rallies and demonstrations were the scene of anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery."
Mr. Jacobson noted the prevalence of equating Israel with the Nazi regime in the Arab press, in Latin America, and even in some mainstream European newspapers. "This widespread use of Holocaust and Nazi analogies goes well beyond legitimate criticism of Israel. Particularly dangerous and disturbing is the use of Nazi imagery to depict Israelis and comparisons of Israel's actions to the absolute evil perpetrated by the Nazis in the Holocaust. It is a depressing irony how the Holocaust is being used against the Jewish people, and how the human rights mechanisms created in its ashes are being used to undermine the Jewish state created as a haven for the Jewish people from persecution."
As part of testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee, the League shared a compilation of incidents that illustrate these trends.
In presenting its recommendations to the committee, the League noted the routine and underreported harassment and trepidation Jews must navigate in their daily lives. "This is impossible to measure, but it is possible, indeed vital, to address," Mr. Jacobson said. "Governments must meet their international legal obligations to keep Jews and all their inhabitants safe from discrimination and hate violence."
ADL recommendations include:
· Political leaders should use the bully pulpit to reject and marginalize anti-Semitism. This includes showing zero tolerance for anti-Semitism in international forums.
· The U.S. should prioritize combating anti-Semitism as part of its bilateral relations with other countries. Reporting on and combating anti-Semitism should be part of the full array of human rights and democracy programming, funding and public diplomacy efforts.
· The U.S. must not demur from addressing anti-Semitism with Muslim and Arab leaders. The instruments of U.S. public diplomacy, and President Obama's emissary to the Organization of the Islamic Conference should seek ways to address the issue of anti-Semitism where it is needed most.
· Provide training and assistance to improve the policing and prosecution of anti-Semitism.
· Strengthen the fight against anti-Semitism and intolerance at home through effective hate crimes prevention and anti-bias programs and activities.
· National and local authorities must call attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions what they are – anti-Semitism.
· Promote enactment of inclusive hate crimes laws.
· Educate about anti-Semitism and provide tools to reject and combat it.