Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal today said anti-Semitism is evolving into new, contemporary forms of hatred and racism.
In her remarks at the annual Board of Governors of the NCSJ, Ms. Rosenthal stressed that anti-Semitism is not History, it is News.
“I run into people who think anti-Semitism ended when Hitler killed himself. More than six decades after the end of the Second World War, anti-Semitism is still alive and well.” -Ms. Rosenthal
She underscored that traditional forms of anti-Semitism are passed from one generation to the next, updated to reflect current events. She noted that the world is all familiar with ongoing hostile acts such as the defacing of property and the desecration of cemeteries with anti-Semitic graffiti.
“For example, in May of this year, a synagogue in Barnaul, Russia was defaced with the phrases, “the Holocaust is a myth,” “Adolf was right,” and “Death to the Jews.” And in December 2010, neo-Nazi youths painted swastikas on 89 gravestones in the main Jewish cemetery in Riga, Latvia.” -Ms. Rosenthal
She highlighted that there are still accusations of blood libel, which are morphing from the centuries-old accusations by the Church that Jews killed Christian children to use their blood for rituals, to accusations that Jews kidnap children to steal their organs.
Ms. Rosenthal emphasized that conspiracy theories continue to flourish, such as supposed Jewish control of the U.S. media and the world banking system, or that Jews were involved in executing the September 11 attacks.
“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion continue to be best sellers in many, many countries, and taught to religious students as truth. The ‘old fashioned’ anti-Semitism is alive and well.” -Ms. Rosenthal
She explained the phenomenon of Holocaust denial. She said it is being espoused by religious leaders, heads of State, such as in Iran, in academic institutions, and is a standard on hateful websites and other media outlets.
Ms. Rosenthal elaborated that Holocaust glorification and the growth of neo-Nazi groups is especially virulent in a variety of Middle Eastern media some of which is state owned and operated.
She added that the increasing tendency of blurring the lines between opposition to the policies of the State of Israel and anti-Semitism has also proliferated.
“I want to be clear – criticism of policies of the State of Israel is not anti-Semitism. But we record huge increases in anti-Semitism whenever there are hostilities in the Middle East. This form of anti-Semitism is more difficult for many to identify.” -Ms. Rosenthal
She explained that it is anti-Semitic when Israel is demonized, held to different standards or delegitimized.” She added this is more readily illustrated by the fact that the U.S. is often the only “no” vote in international bodies where countries seem to have an obsession with singling out Israel for disproportionate condemnation.
She also highlighted the growing nationalistic movements which target ‘the other’ – be the immigrants, or religious and ethnic minorities – in the name of protecting the identity and ‘purity’ of their nation.
Ms. Rosenthal underscored that over the past two decades, anti-Semitism has continued to form the ideological basis of many right-wing ultra-nationalist organizations in the former Soviet Union. The racist “skinhead” groups promote anti-Semitic propaganda, use anti-Semitic rhetoric, and incite racial violence, as they did during an illegal rally in December 2010 in Moscow.
She pointed out that the State Department monitors these trends and activities and reports on them in all 194 countries – in two major annual reports: The International Religious Freedom Report and the Human Rights Report.
Ms. Rosenthal commended Russia for moving in a positive direction. She said Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has publicly criticized anti-Semitism and helped establish the Museum of Tolerance by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia.
She underscored that hate-motivated and anti-Semitic vandalism is generally decreasing in Russia. In 2010, neo-Nazi and racially motivated violence was at a six year low in Russia.
“Prosecution of hate-crimes and vandalism is on the rise, though it remains inconsistent. While law enforcement agencies are pursuing these acts more aggressively and the court system increasingly acknowledges the racist motive behind these attacks, impunity remains common and many perpetrators receive suspended sentences.” -Ms. Rosenthal
Finally, she urged the international community to be united in confronting and combating the many forms of hatred in the world today. She said where there is hatred born of ignorance, people must teach and inspire.