Recognizing Anti-Zionist Antisemitism Report
A comprehensive guide for policymakers, public authorities and civil society on the nature, characteristics and manifestations of anti- Zionist or anti-Israel antisemitism
This report is meant to serve as a comprehensive guide for policymakers, public authorities and civil society on the nature, characteristics and manifestations of anti-Zionist or anti-Israel antisemitism.
Although this report was many months in the drafting, it has undertaken a new sense of urgency in wake of the unprecedented explosion in global antisemitism and violence against Jews, following the May 2021 conflict between Israel and Hamas.
On May 16th, on the eve of the Jewish festival of Shavuot, a convoy of cars flying Palestinian flags drove through Jewish neighbourhoods in North London screaming “f*** the Jews, rape their daughters.” At another rally in London, protesters could be heard chanting “we want the Zionists, we want their blood”, while a Rabbi was physically assaulted outside his home in Chigwell, requiring hospitalization.
According to the Community Security Trust, which monitors antisemitism in the UK, there was a staggering 500% increase in antisemitic incidents since hostilities between Hamas and Israel began.
Meantime, in Germany, hundreds of anti-Israel protesters surrounded a synagogue in Gelsenkirchen, chanting “sh***y Jews,” while elsewhere protesters burned Israeli flags in front of synagogues. In other European cities, gangs of Islamists have been chanting “O Jews, the armies of Muhammad will return,” a slogan that has today become a rallying cry by Islamists for violence against Jews.
Likewise, across the United States and Canada, we have witnessed shocking and sickening scenes of Jews being viciously attacked and beaten in the streets, with the ADL noting there has been an increase of 75% in antisemitic incidents, during the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas. On May 24th 2021, President Biden declared “such attacks on the Jewish community are despicable, and they must stop. I condemn this hateful behavior at home and abroad - it’s up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor.”
It is time, once and for all now, to dispense with the notion that these acts of wanton intimidation, harassment and violence are anything but Jew hatred and antisemitism disguised as anti-Zionism.
The fact of the matter is, the attacks we are seeing directed at Jews across Europe and North America did not occur in a vacuum. Such acts of pitiless violence are the direct result of a pervasive discourse vilifying and demonizing the sole Jewish state, all under the pretext of purported criticism of Zionism and Israel. As we have seen throughout history, and underscored again in the recent weeks, words have consequences, and such hate, incitement and peddling in antisemitic tropes directly leads to violent attacks against Jews on the streets of London, New York, Berlin or Montreal.
As Israeli writer and former Member of Knesset, Einat Wilf, said in a recent op-ed in The Telegraph, “Anti-Zionism is just the new, innocent-sounding incarnation of an ancient Jew hatred.”
This explosion of anti-Jewish violence comes as antisemitism has risen dramatically worldwide over the past two decades, amplified and exacerbated by social media, as the most recent Israel - Hamas hostilities have only underscored. Jewish religious and community institutions, as well as Jewish individuals, have been the targets of harassment, vandalism, violence and even murder. Jewish communities around the world are under intense pressure due to extreme antisemitism, and Jewish institutions need to take increased security precautions. Over half of younger European Jews (aged 16-34) admit to being the victim of an antisemitic incident a year before.
According to a survey carried out by the Anti-Defamation League in 2019, one in four Europeans hold hard-core antisemitic beliefs and stereotypes, tens of millions of European believe that Israel is carrying out a genocide against the Palestinians similar to the Nazi Final Solution, and that Israel is the greatest threat to world peace. This is barely 80 years after two thirds of European Jewry were murdered by the German Nazi regime and local collaborators across Europe.
Jewish community watchdogs in the UK reported record high antisemitic incidents in 2019. In Germany, Jewish worshippers in a synagogue in Halle were narrowly saved from a massacre by a neo-Nazi gunman on Yom Kippur of 2019. Despite Germany's dark history, German Jews continue to be subject to violence and terror from far-right, Islamist and radical leftist groups. In France, violent acts against Jews constituted nearly 40% of hate crimes reported in 2017, despite Jews making up less than 1% of France's population. In 2019, there was 27% increase of antisemitic violence in France. In the past decade, a dozen French Jews have been murdered by Muslim extremists. In New York City, the city with the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, attacks on Jews constitute more than half of hate crimes reported. Over the past few years, American Jews have been assaulted and murdered in Pittsburgh, Poway, Jersey City and Monsey.
These shocking statistics highlight the urgency for countries that value human rights and tolerance to tackle antisemitism. The insecurity and threats facing Jewish communities worldwide are not solely a Jewish problem but bespeak a fundamental social crisis. If democracy and equality are not to become mere buzzwords, government officials and civil society at all levels must get serious in the fight against antisemitism.
Much of this resurgent antisemitism focuses obsessively on Israel, Zionism and Jewish peoplehood. The Jewish state is portrayed as uniquely demonic and illegitimate, guilty of the worst crimes known to humanity. As such, Israel and Jews who identity with it are condemned to ostracism, boycott, harassment and even murder. It is undeniable that the rise in violent attacks on Jews has been accompanied with a parallel in extreme hostility and hatred toward the Jewish state.
As Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (z’l) remarked in 2016, when describing antisemitism as ‘a mutating virus’, observing “it takes different forms but it remains the same thing: the view that Jews have no right to exist as free and equal human beings.”
Like a virus left untouched, this anti-Zionist antisemitism will erode the very foundations of Jewish life in the diaspora, by:
- Inciting and legitimizing further violence against Jews.
- Threatening Jewish life, including expression of Jewish identity.
- Empowering the BDS Movement and the ongoing vilification of Israel, including its right to exist as a Jewish state, as the very manifestation of modern antisemitism.
Antisemitism cannot be honestly confronted unless public officials and civil society are willing to recognize one of its most powerful modern manifestations - hatred and demonization of the Jewish state.
Accordingly, we make a number of key recommendations and practical legal tools for combating this virulent antisemitism:
- Full adoption and implementation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, as the basis upon which to identity antisemitism in all its manifestations.
- Closer cooperation with law enforcement authorities.
- Greater education and training of legal professionals, attorneys and judges, including with reference to the IHRA working definition.
- Working closer with University administrations to actively affirm the right of Jewish students to express their Jewish and Zionist identities free from punishment, repercussion or harassment. The IHRA working definition of antisemitism should also be incorporated into university codes of conduct and anti-discrimination guidelines.