Netanyahu warns of resurgence of antisemitism

The Federal Chancellery of Austria, under the directives of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz, concluded a conference in Vienna, which aimed at combating antisemitism across Europe. During the conference, detailed proposals and recommendations for combating antisemitism across the continent were drawn up by the European Jewish Congress, titled “Catalogue of Policies to Combat Antisemitism,” with the assistance of academics from universities in Vienna, Tel Aviv and New York. The proposals include adopting an International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism; the appointment by EU countries of a special commissioner for combating antisemitism; a commitment of a percentage of GDP annually to fighting antisemitism; legally barring anti-Semites from political parties and public office; committing financial and other resources to guarantee security for Jewish communities in Europe; making Internet companies liable for antisemitic content on their platforms; and advising companies not to do business with countries or organizations that support antisemitism in any way. After the recommendations were presented to the conference, Chancellor Kurtz announced that he intends to present the document to the European Council in December, which is the most influential body of the European Union. The body is comprised of the leaders of the respective 28 EU member states and is tasked with determining the bloc’s policy direction. The Austrian Chancellor further voiced hope that the definition of antisemitism and the conclusions presented at the conference will ensure Jewish safety in Austria, Europe and beyond. In his words, “We have dealt with this, what can a small country like Austria do in a concert of the European Union. And I think the possibilities are sometimes bigger than you think. So, as the Republic of Austria, we do not just want to look back, we also want to look ahead, consciously taking sustainable steps for our responsibility. And I very much hope that the unified definition of antisemitism at this conference, but hopefully also the Council conclusions on the fight against antisemitism and anti-Zionism at the end of our Presidency, can be an important step forward. A step forward, so that Jews in Austria, in Europe and beyond can really live in safety. Only then have we truly lived up to our historical responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the conference in a recoded video, during which he hailed the conference as an opportunity to promote tangible steps to combat all forms of antisemitism. According to him, “This conference represents an opportunity to promote concrete steps to combat all forms of antisemitism. The holocaust did not begin of course in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, the holocaust began with hateful words, burning books, shattering store-fronts. The lesson on the holocaust is that we most never forget the importance of fighting hate, barbarism and radicalism and to do so early on when you can still stop bad things from getting worse.” Netanyahu stressed that today, a resurgence of antisemitism has once against emerged, in the name of radical ideologies, seeking to harm and demonize the Jewish people by saying: “Today we are experiencing a resurgence of antisemitism worldwide, we once again hear false and dehumanizing allegations against Jews. We see attempts to kill or harm Jews in the name of radical ideologies. And since the establishment of the state of Israel, we face a new form of antisemitism.” The Israeli leader underscored that the new form of antisemitism is primarily directed toward the state of Israel, which is the nation state of the Jewish people. Thus, Netanyahu asserted that the first step of combating antisemitism demands its definition and called on the international community to unite in confronting the modern form of antisemitism: anti-Zionism. He said that “Vicious efforts to demonize the Jewish state and deny the Jewish people the right to self-determination in our ancestral homeland, the land of Israel, when every nation is allowed to define its flag, its national anthem, its national identity – except for the Jewish people. This is antisemitism. And we most all join hands to combat traditional and modern forms of antisemitism. The first step to combat antisemitism is to define it. The Israeli government, along with seven other European governments, including Austria has adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism. I urge all countries to adopt this definition and to increase their efforts to combat antisemitism and its modern manifestation, anti- Zionism. There is only one remedy for slander, and that is the truth.”