Attempts to ban circumcision and ritual slaughter are the most alarming type of anti-Semitism
The fifth Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism (GFCA) opened in Israel on Tuesday evening in the presence of senior statesmen, parliament members, diplomats, research bodies, Jewish community heads, religious leaders and international organizations from dozens of countries, led by the Foreign Ministry.
The state of anti-Semitism has never been as serious as on the eve of this forum. Seventy years since the darkest chapter in the history of Europe, anti-Semitism is reaching levels which have yet to be seen, and there is barely a single area in Europe which is free of hatred towards Jews. There are thousands of cases of anti-Jewish violence, anti-Semitic incitement and Holocaust denial.
One of the reasons is the export of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to European countries through extreme propaganda led by radical Muslim immigrants, who are intentionally blurring the distinction between Israel and the Jews. In addition, Jews in Europe have become the target of the radical and communist left, and at the same time we are witnessing the rise of neo-Nazi and radical right-wing parties.
Kantor Center notes 38% rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe in past year; researchers say sharp rise is partly linked to last summer's Gaza war, as well as a 'general climate of hatred and violence' fostered by rise of Islamic State.
The "liberal" or "institutional" anti-Semitism, which has developed from the political center, is also growing stronger in recent years, and it may be the most alarming type of anti-Semitism: "Liberal" activists are leading efforts to outlaw key elements in the Jewish life, presenting circumcision and kosher slaughter in a demonic way, thereby igniting the winds of hatred.
Until the black January of 2015, which will be remembered for the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices and Hyper Cacher supermarket, the European Union countries demonstrated their weakness towards the phenomenon. Upon realizing that something had happened, France rushed to initiate a series of practical moves, presenting an overall government plan of action against anti-Semitism and racism, backed by a budget of more than 100 million euros.
At the same time, the United States initiated a taskforce aimed at leading the fight against anti-Semitism across and outside the US, and discussed a bill under which the administration would link its participation in future trade agreements with foreign countries with the rejection of boycotts or sanctions against Israel driven by political considerations.
Israel's new government must include in its basic guidelines the need for a firm battle against anti-Semitism and Israel's de-legitimization. The GFCA must call for the establishment of a national authority to fight this negative phenomenon, a move which will make it possible to increase and tighten the coordination for effective and deep action against the strategic threat.
At the same time, Europe's governments, the European Parliament and the EU must be required to adopt the French stance and firmly and sharply work to curb and eradicate the phenomenon.
The world's leaders, led by Europe's leaders, are required to initiate an immediate battle which will include a renewed universal definition of anti-Semitism by the EU Agency of Fundamental Rights; to work without delay to appoint a special EU commissioner and create a multi-national parliamentary force to fight anti-Semitism; to enact special laws against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, which only exist in 13 out of 28 European countries, and to increase their enforcement; to outlaw sites encouraging incitement and animosity towards Israel and Jews; and to implement an educational plan teaching the Holocaust and its lessons to the young generation in all European countries.
Hatred of Jews is not a "Jewish" matter. It threatens the values of democracy, freedom, equality and harmony – all the things Europe sought to be after recovering from its destruction.
Yitzhak Eldan is president of the Ambassadors' Club of Israel, a senior diplomatic advisor to the Israeli Jewish Congress in Jerusalem and the former Israeli ambassador to UNESCO and the Council of Europe.