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David Matas

David Matas: Antisemitism and its younger brother anti-Zionism exist in virtually every country, whether there are Jewish communities in those countries are not.

by David Matas, posted Aug 1, 2013

[The following is the presentation made by human rights lawyer David Matas at the closing plenary of the Global Forum of  Antisemitism in Jerusalem May 30, 2013]

We have already heard ten different action plans, of each of the working groups.  For an overall action plan, I want to make two main points.  One is the need for the Global Forum.  The second is the need for action.

This is the seventh Global Forum and the fourth sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has had both symbolic and practical significance.

Symbolically it has meant that the Government of Israel has come to accept the need to combat antisemitism.  It was not always so.

Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, diagnosed antisemitism as a disease from which the Jews suffered because of their statelessness. He considered that antisemitism would be resolved "on a political basis" through the creation of Jewish state.  He predicted that, once a state was created for the Jewish people, the Jews would become like any other people.  They would have their quarrels with other nations.  But those quarrels would be no different from the quarrels nations then had with each other.  He argued in his pioneering 1896 pamphlet "The Jewish State" that the advent of the Jewish state "would put an end to antisemitism."

One, though far from the only, reason the Jewish state was created after the Holocaust was the acceptance of this very logic.   The hope was that, through the creation of a Jewish state, the Jewish people would become a nation like all others.

But, just the opposite has happened.  Instead of nationals of the Jewish state being treated like nationals of other states, the Jewish state has come to be treated like the Jewish people.  Israel has become the Jew amongst nations - outcast, defamed and demonized.

The realization of the Zionist dream has generated anti-Zionism.   Anti-Zionism has modernized and amplified traditional antisemitism.

I want to repeat here the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu we heard at the beginning of the conference:


          "There were two myths about antisemitism. The first was that after the Holocaust antisemitism would disappear. And the second was that with the creation of the Jewish state, antisemitism would disappear. That didn't happen. Neither one of them."


This statement is significant, not just for its content, but because it was made by the Prime Minister of Israel.

Centralizing the efforts of the Government of Israel within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is symbolic, because of the centrality and priority of the Ministry within the Government.  It is also practical because of the global reach of the Ministry.  The Ministry has officials around the world who can lead in the struggle against antisemitism in each country and at each institution where these officials find themselves.

The Government of Israel is, of course, chosen by the voters of Israel and reflects the priorities of these voters.  The Jewish community of Israel, of all the planet's Jewish communities, is least likely to experience antisemitism.

Yet, Israel suffers the consequences of anti-Zionism first and worst, through suicide bombers, indiscriminate rocket attacks and armed incursions.  War propaganda, hate indoctrination, and incitement to terrorism inevitably precede acts of war, hatred and terror.  It is unnecessary to persuade Israelis of the need for self defense. 

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