UNITED NATIONS, NY — On the third floor of the United Nations, just two doors down from the Security Council, more than 500 people gathered this week for a conference on the rise of anti-Semitism. For some, the location was a touch ironic.
Because it wasn’t the UN that decided to address the threat global anti-Semitism posed to international peace and security. Rather, it was the UN Permanent Mission of Palau and the Aja Eze Foundation that sponsored the lunchtime conference.
“But why couldn’t the UN, founded on the ashes of the Jewish people, and presently witnessing a widespread resurgence in anti-Semitism, sponsor a conference on combating global anti-Semitism?” said Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. “The answer is clear: Because the United Nations itself is the leading global purveyor of anti-Semitism.”
Bayefsky was one of eight panelists who urged the international community to recognize that as anti-Semitism rises, global security falls. They said failure to act against such bigotry enables ISIS and other fundamental Islamic groups.
The conference came after a summer that saw a sharp uptick in anti-Semitic incidents due to Israel’s war against Hamas, according to the Jerusalem-based World Zionist Organization. In July there were approximately 318 anti-Semitic incidents, compared to 66 over the same period in 2013. This represents a nearly 400 percent increase.
During July 2014, Europe saw a 436% increase in anti-Semitism, while the US saw a 130% rise. There was a 1200% increase in South America and a 600% rise in South Africa
During July 2014, Europe saw a 436% increase, while the US saw a 130% rise. There was a 1,200% increase in anti-Semitic acts in South America and a 600% rise in South Africa, according to the organization.
“Where is the outrage? Where are the universal condemnations?” said Ambassador Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, Prosor said. “The silence is very similar to the silence of the 1930s and we all have a responsibility to stand up and fight.
“Will you stand with those who fire rockets, kidnap girls out of classrooms, and cut off the heads of journalists? Or will you stand up for freedom?” said Prosor.
Thousands in the United Kingdom and Germany recently demonstrated against a wave of anti-Semitic incidents. And US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Jewish leaders to “reiterate the US government’s deep concern about the prevalence and pervasiveness of anti-Semitic threats and attacks against Jewish individuals, houses of worship, and businesses during the past few months,” according to the US State Department.
Still more must be done, said panelists. To start, the UN must change its stance regarding Israel.
“Every nation has a right to protect themselves, yet most condemn Israel’s right to protect itself. Many condemn genocide yet do not do anything against those who seek to annihilate Israel,” said Dr. Caleb Otto, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Palau to the United Nations.
However, the UN disproportionally singles Israel out among its 193 members, Bayefsky said.
For example, 35% of all resolutions and decisions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council that criticize nations on human rights records condemn only Israel. Of all the 2013 General Assembly resolutions criticizing specific countries for human rights abuses, 70% were about Israel. And 50% of the emergency special sessions of the General Assembly over six decades were convened to denounce Israel; no emergency special session has been called on any other state in over thirty years, Bayefsky said.
This kind of institutionalized anti-Semitism not only threatens Israel, it threatens regional stability, said Mark Langfan, Arutz Sheva UN Correspondent/Security Analyst.
To make his case, Langfan presented a graphic analysis of the strategic dangers to Israel and the world. The New York-based attorney said Israel is of critical strategic importance. It is a bulwark against the Islamic fundamentalism threatening to sweep across the Middle East and into southern Europe.
“Israel’s fight today will be the world’s fight tomorrow,” Langfan said.
He said a strong Israel protects Lebanon, Jordan and moderate Muslim nations from falling to groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS.
Wearing a Star of David, Brigitte Gabriel, founder, CEO and president of ACT! For America, decried those who questioned Israel’s right to defend itself during Operation Protective Edge. She said she found that appalling given that Hamas’ charter calls for Israel’s destruction.
“But Hamas has a problem because in Israel Jews don’t hide behind stones and trees. In Israel Jews have learned that when someone says they are going to kill you they mean it,” Gabriel said.
The twice-published author said standing against this “institutionalized” anti-Semitism is to oppose terrorist groups such as Hamas and ISIS.
Pastor Mario Bramnick, Chief Liaison for Israel and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership, said visitors to the UN “will see Israel falsely portrayed as a murderer, an illegitimate occupier and a baby killer.” They see a nation charged with apartheid and genocide.
Regardless of faith, race or creed, people must not be silent in the face of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel vitriol, Bramnick said to a standing ovation.
And so, Bramnick said, three days before the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 and just over two weeks before Rosh Hashanah, it’s time to act, and do what was done in Biblical times to signal danger.
“If there ever was a time to sound the shofar,” Bramnick said, “it is now.”