Leaders of the Abrahamic faiths came together Monday for the inaugural Combat Anti-Semitism Movement (CAM) Summit to fight another global pandemic: anti-Semitism.
Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who received the CAM Global Leadership Award for fighting hatred against Jews, celebrated the US-brokered Abraham Accords, the normalization agreements signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, and attributed their implementation to the US leaving the Iran nuclear deal.
Leaders within the Abrahamic faith traditions also discussed their own initiatives and reasons for getting involved in the battle against the anti-Semitism.
Dr. Susan Michael, USA director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem said that educating community members about the past is an important step in “pioneering” a new relationship between Christians and Jews.
“A part of this pioneering of a whole new relationship that many of us are enjoying today is educating … is educating our own community about the history of Jewish-Christian relations, and part of that is the history of anti-Semitism in the church – and it’s a history that many, many Christians do not know,” she said.
It doesn’t end with anti-Semitism, it starts with anti-Semitism
Fiyaz Mughal, OBE, founder of Muslims Against Anti-Semitism, felt a sense of responsibility to fight anti-Semitism because the civil rights he enjoys as a European Muslim stem from the Holocaust.
“Those fundamental values about human rights, I think, within Europe have developed … because of tragedies, they have developed on the backs of Jewish blood, sweat and tears,” he said. “We as Muslims need to want to … accept some of the rights we enjoy today are based on the pain of the Jewish community and the struggles they’ve gone through,” he said.
Mughal also noted that with an increase in anti-Semitism comes an increase in other forms of hatred as well.
“It doesn’t end with anti-Semitism, it starts with anti-Semitism,” he said.
While Mughal says that Israel plays a role in anti-Semitism within certain segments of the Muslim population, his focus was to find common values and partners with people of all faiths.
In Pompeo’s acceptance remarks at the conference for the leadership award for fighting anti-Semitism, he said he believes that the Abraham Accords will expand to many more countries.
“I hope that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can find its way to join the Abraham Accords; I know that many inside that country want that to take place. But there are other nations, too, that can join … Muslim nations, not just in the Middle East but places like Indonesia as well,” he said.
The former secretary of state said that the Abraham Accords came about because the US left the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.
“The Abraham Accords would not have happened … without the United States changing its policy with respect to Iran 180 degrees from how the previous administration had addressed that issue,” he said.
Here in the United States, we’ve witnessed the normalization of extremist groups and conspiracy theories that either implicitly or explicitly target Jews
While Pompeo’s award recognized his achievement in fighting hatred against Jews during the Trump Administration, the actions of the former president that contributed to formenting anti-Semitism also were acknowledged.
“Here in the United States, we’ve witnessed the normalization of extremist groups and conspiracy theories that either implicitly or explicitly target Jews. Our country is facing a period where nationally elected leaders are allowing these dangerous conspiracy theories to spread, even enabling them and refusing to condemn them,” said Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., co-chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism. “When you welcome a conspiracy theory, an extremist ideology in the pursuit of political expediency, you create space for anti-Semitism. You give an open invitation to unseemly characters and groups, some of whom felt so emboldened by this tacit endorsement from their government leaders that on January 6 they wore their anti-Semitism literally on their sleeve,” he added.
Referencing the anti-Semitism on display during January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol in Washington, Deutch also condemned Republican leaders on the Hill and the former president, though he did not name names.
“When an elected leader makes speeches endorsing anti-Semitic language and theories, and supports conspiracy groups rooted in anti-Semitism like Q-Anon, it contributes to the manifestation” of anti-Semitism, he said. “When you advance lies and conspiracies about our democratic process in a fairly decided election, conspiracies that are seized on by anti-Semitic extremist groups, it too adds to the form of anti-Semitism in the IHRA definition,” he also said, referring to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.
The working definition states that: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
CAM is pushing more institutions to adopt the IHRA anti-Semitism definition, which comes with 11 illustrated examples of anti-Semitism, including four that specifically involve Israel.
In a bipartisan conclusion, Deutch condemned leaders from both sides of the ideological spectrum for contributing to anti-Semitism.
“Using long-standing stereotypes to make demonizing allegations about Jews and the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy. Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, a political operative or a member of Congress, that contributes to the IHRA,” Deutch said.
Examples of such lawmakers, who were not named by Deutch, are the Republican congresswoman affiliated with Q-Anon, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who liked a post about Jewish space lasers starting wildfires in California, and Democratic representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who each have made numerous comments considered to be anti-Semitic that fall under the IHRA definition.
All countries must join hands to defeat the virus of anti-Semitism and radical hate. We must show zero tolerance for all forms of anti-Semitism, racism and extremism in any country whether in the streets, online, or in the halls of power
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin during the summit called for unity in eliminating hatred in all its manifestations.
“All countries must join hands to defeat the virus of anti-Semitism and radical hate. We must show zero tolerance for all forms of anti-Semitism, racism and extremism in any country whether in the streets, online, or in the halls of power,” Rivlin said.
Rivlin’s call to end tolerance for discrimination in the halls of power also hits close to home.
His appeal to get rid of the scourge of discrimination comes ahead of the March 23 national election, where Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party signed a voter surplus agreement with the new Religious Zionist Party, made up of factions deemed extremist by most Israelis. The deal gives the two parties a chance to merge their extra votes, increasing the chance that the new party will garner enough seats to get into the Knesset.