A hearing took place this week in the Israeli Knesset to discuss the troubling rise in antisemitism in the United States during the past few months. Member of Knesset, Avraham Neguise along with several other members and representatives from various Israel advocacy related organizations were present.
Some of the organizations included the Jewish Agency, Hillel, the Reform Movement, the World Zionist Organization, the Anti-Defamation League, Israeli government ministries of Foreign, Strategic and Diaspora Affairs as well as researchers from [Israel’s Holocaust Museum] Yad Vashem, students and our very own program, Israeli Students Combatting Antisemitism (ISCA).
The panel discussed the increase of antisemitic attacks against the, briefly mentioning the vandalized gravestones in Jewish cemeteries in Pennsylvania, New York, and Missouri. Experts and representatives debated the proper course of action in order to combat this phenomenon. Several assured that Israeli and Jewish organizations are working alongside U.S. authorities’ to put a halt to these attacks, strengthen the Jewish communities, and prevent future threats to centers, such as the recent bomb scare in over 32 states.
The startling number of antisemitic content on the web was also discussed. In the month of February 2017 alone, there were 33,388 antisemitic tweets, 27,797 antisemitic users, 80,512 “new” antisemitic or anti-Israel tweets, and 52,853 antisemitic users.
The panel discussed effective plans of action and asked whether the State of Israel, [which is seen as a homeland for Jews and feels responsible for the welfare of Jews worldwide] could offer assistance in combatting this phenomenon. Many ideas were suggested, including addressing social media sites directly, and furthering government policies to fight growing antisemitism.
“We are aware of plans to combat antisemitism in the U.S. although we are not allowed to discuss these sources. The President as well as Vice President Pence, as you previously witnessed joined in to help restore [those sites], the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo also visited Holocaust museum Yad Vashem and both expressed zero tolerance to rising antisemitism.” Rabbi of the Reform Movement, Rick Jacobs added: “It feels great to know that as Jews we stand together around the world.”
Ido Daniel said: “[One must remember that] Antisemitism is not against Semitic peoples, it refers specifically to Jews. Our program combats antisemitism online and is [largely] responsible for removing antisemitic tweets. Unfortunately, we have seen a strong increase in antisemitic content on social media sites in the past few months. We are working to remove the incitement.”
The Knesset plans to hold an additional session to address the rising antisemitism in Russia and the surrounding Slavic countries in the future. As Member of Knesset Michael Malkieli put it: “If the state immediately responds to these antisemitic acts, the result will be completely different [than it has been now].”
Image: David Vaknin, NRG
By: Yafit Ovadia