These turbulent political times in Israel overshadow significant and distressing events that have been escalating globally. A wave of antisemitism has swept entire countries and is eroding the sense of security of their Jewish populations. In many countries, this is demonstrated through violent attacks, the likes of which we have not experienced in recent times.
Antisemitism raised its hideous head even before Operation Guardian of the Walls and the recent conflict with Hamas in Gaza. However, during and after this period in particular, an increase in antisemitism was recorded in Europe and in the United States, home of the second-largest Jewish population in the world.
Antisemitism in the United States rose by 80 percent. In the UK, the number of antisemitic incidents increased by 570%. These inconceivable figures translate into hundreds of cases where innocent Jews were violently attacked simply because they are Jewish. This wave of incitement includes not only verbal abuse but shocking hate crimes and physical attacks. We have not seen such detestable behavior in public for many years. This raises the questions: What can be done to reduce and combat antisemitism, and who is responsible for doing so?
In times of crisis, we unite. The mutual responsibility that exists between the State of Israel and world Jewry was evident during the recent conflict. The global Jewish population monitored the situation with concern as thousands of missiles were fired at Israel. They demonstrated their support in marches and through public and private words of assurance. We in Israel were appalled by displays of antisemitism in the world’s capitals.
This connection between Jews and Israel, which is a force multiplier for us, is an advantage in the eyes of our enemies. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, is not only opposed to Israel, he also detests Jews. He labels the Jewish people “dogs,” “inhuman,” and other such insulting and abusive terms. He is not alone. In Syria and even in Egypt, a country with whom Israel has a peace agreement, many are involved in antisemitism and in Holocaust denial.
Antisemitism begins in countries where there are almost no Jews. It is easier to incite against us in this way because we are almost non-existent in their day-to-day lives. Jews are declared the instigators of all that is evil in this world and are used as scapegoats. There is no rhyme or reason for this hate, and for many it is a way of life.
A clear strategy is evidently required to combat such ignorant assumptions. This roadmap should combine education, advocacy, and strong demands from governments which are responsible for the safety and security of their Jewish citizens. We must not allow this to end with flowery statements. We must continue with legislative and punitive activity in all countries against perpetrators of hate crimes, as has been done in Germany and Austria for example. We must call for the enactment of laws against antisemitic acts. We must demonstrate our collective strength in the face of irrational and violent action. Israel must demand from each country in the world that it protect its Jewish citizens and act resolutely and swiftly against any manifestation of antisemitism. The demand should be assertive and heard everywhere, at all times.
Simultaneously, we in Israel also have a duty to find bigger and better ways to increase solidarity with world Jewry. It shouldn’t simply be about assisting Jews or helping those who recently arrived in Israel. We must also stand shoulder to shoulder with our Jewish communities worldwide. We have not yet achieved this goal and must strive to do so. We must focus on legislation and make sure this discussion becomes a part of the international discourse. It is crucial that we all continue to intensify our global efforts in the war against antisemitism. Let us stand together to fight this war.