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Israeli President Tells US, European Envoys ‘Anti-Semitism Not A Jewish Problem Alone’

November 4, 2019 News

President with US and European envoys. Photo courtesy of Mark Neiman (Israeli GPO)

Envoys and coordinators tasked with fighting anti-Semitism from the United States and Europe met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday, and that globally diverse crowd was fitting for Rivlin’s message. “We share the understanding that anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem alone. It is a problem for all humanity,” said Rivlin, according to press release recap of his comments.

“We are engaged in a bitter joint fight against any expressions of anti-Semitism— from the right, the left or from radical Islam. Anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism. There are no gray areas and there is no option other than zero tolerance.”

Rivlin went on to highlight a specific modern form of anti-Semitism that impacts his country directly: anti-Israelism. “One can criticize us so long as it is criticism,” said Rivlin. “The moment it turns to boycotts and actions against Israel that are influenced by anti-Semitism—we will not accept it.”

One of the government officials joining Rivlin, German Government Commissioner on Anti-Semitism Dr. Felix Klein, was quoted as echoing the Israeli President’s belief in a global response.

“Anti-Semitism is taking on new guises and working together around the world is vital,” said Klein. “This is a global issue and we must join hands to fight it. A strong international reaction must be part of the solution.”

The spectrum of voices combatting anti-Semitism was broad. In addition to the European envoys, United States Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism Elan Carr brought a message from a different side of the political spectrum from President Donald Trump. “Many leaders around the world understand that anti-Semitism is not only against the Jews, but against society as a whole. It is a great honor to work alongside such leaders for a better and more just world, and I am proud to call them partners,” said Carr. “President Trump calls anti-Semitism poison.”

Carr went on to say that President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both “stand with you in the struggle for the security of Jewish people around the world and for the State of Israel.”

The challenges facing Jews around the world are growing, and some of that challenge comes from those in Europe who oppose traditional Jewish religious practice. It’s a complex struggle that seems to even impact the European Commission Coordinator on combatting Antisemitism, who acknowledged what she called “legitimate discussions” around such views.

“In this campaign, we face challenges around legitimate discussions on the banning of Kosher slaughter of animals, or the banning of circumcision. What we have in common is that we manage to overcome these challenges together,” said Katherina von Schnurbein. “We have seen 180-degree changes in the positions of countries after we hold discussions and joint activities. Things can change. We must continue our work because it can lead to change. As someone who saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, something we thought could never happen, I know to say that change is possible.”

Rivlin, on the other hand, was forceful in his condemnation of anti-Semitism. Speaking at a conference held after the time with the envoys, Rivlin was quoted as saying, “We must ensure the security of Jewish communities, not just accept as fact that schools and synagogues needs guards, walls and gates. That is not normal! Security does not solve the problem of anti-Semitism, it just shows its severity.”

Rivlin also slammed the publication of anti-Semitic cartoons in The New York Times and official Arab media, expressions of anti-Semitism by political parties in the West and the violence against synagogues in Pittsburgh in the US and Halle in Germany.

It was in Germany that some of the worst expressions of anti-Semitism were seen less than 100 years ago, and yet those lessons still have not been fully learned.

“Soon, we will mark the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht. We must always remember that if anti-Semitism is not stopped in time, it quickly goes from words to broken glass, violence and murder,” said Rivlin.

“We must take bold action. We must be extremely concerned that anti-Semitism is rising around the world.”

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, November 4, 2019)

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