Once again, we are seeing a direct correlation between armed conflicts in Israel and the rise of antisemitism across the globe
Since Oct 7th, when Hamas launched its deadly attack on Israel, the surge of antisemitic incidents across the world has been overwhelming. Even in the first days after the massacre of more than 1300 Israelis and the kidnapping of more than 200 people, including women, children and elderly people, protesters in Australia where already chanting “gas the Jews,” swastikas appeared at pro-Hamas rallies and security around Jewish communities the world over was tightened. The situation continues to escalate as reports come in of a soaring, although unconfirmed, death toll on the Palestinian Arab side.
Once again, we are seeing a direct correlation between armed conflicts in Israel and the rise of antisemitism across the globe. We witnessed the same phenomenon in previous cycles of violence in Israel. Yet, one would imagine that things might be different this time. That in the face of the unimaginable atrocities – a fully documented massacre with its images reaching every human being across the planet – something would change. But the same old anti-Israel rallies are being held in world capitals and Jews everywhere are suffering.
Strange as it sounds, although considered the “oldest hatred,” there had never been an internationally accepted definition of antisemitism. Yet, less than a decade ago, something changed. A group of nations at the behest of the IHRA – the International Holocaust Remembrance Association
drafted and adopted a “working definition” of antisemitism. This definition has garnered wide attention and has been adopted by more than 30 countries, the EU, and a former U.S. administration via executive order, and many organizations worldwide.
Soon enough, opposition arose. Most of it has focused on the relation between antisemitism and Israel. As one group opposing this definition, which issued its own definition known as the “Jerusalem Declaration” put it: “The IHRA Definition includes 11 ‘examples’ of antisemitism, 7 of which focus on the State of Israel. While this puts undue emphasis on one arena, there is a widely felt need for clarity on the limits of legitimate political speech and action concerning Zionism, Israel, and Palestine.” The so needed standardized definition of antisemitism became a battle ground on just how much one can hate Israel and Zionism without being considered a Jew hater.
Other articles have examined the differences between the definitions, and I will not rehash them here. The point is that it doesn’t really matter. Reality matters. What we are witnessing: the hatred, the extreme violence, and the moral bankruptcy of millions across the world. They are so blinded by their hatred of Israel they are willing to ignore the atrocities that sparked the war, some even support or rationalize the slaughter. One important thing has again been proved: antisemitism is against Jews just as much as it is against Israel, and it is against Israel just as much as it is against Jews.
It doesn’t matter how you perceive the equation; it is what it is. And that’s all that matters. It is what is happening on the streets in country after country just as much as it is what was brutally inflicted on Israelis on that terrible day in early October. We need not discuss the fine points as the protesters keep marching, as Jews need to hide, as Jewish children can’t attend their schools, as the security perimeters around synagogues are tightened, and all because Israel is at war and despite the pogrom that triggered it. The fine points are beyond the comprehension of the haters. For now, we are left to accept this plain and painful truth: anti-Israelism, anti-Zionism and antisemitism, are one.
Dr. Robert Neufeld is a Senior Fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute and international, military and security law scholar.