Antisemitism, Delegitimization of Israel on the Rise, Experts Say
Deborah Lipstadt , US special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, addresses conference attendees in Jerusalem on July 5, 2022. (Maya Margit/The Media Line)

Antisemitism, Delegitimization of Israel on the Rise, Experts Say

American and Israeli officials convene at Jerusalem confab to discuss global trends in antisemitism

Antisemitism is on the rise in countries around the globe and is being directed particularly at delegitimizing the State of Israel, leading American and Israel experts said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a forum titled, “New Tools in Combatting Contemporary Antisemitism,” which was held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), warned that the organization had recorded a massive uptick in antisemitic incidents.

“Something has changed in the US and around the world,” Greenblatt told attendees. “In 2021, the ADL recorded the highest number of antisemitic incidents we’ve ever seen in American history: 2,717 acts, a 34% increase over the prior year.

“Delegitimization of Israel is one of the main forms of antisemitism in the 21st century,” Greenblatt added.

If you want to talk about foreign assistance, the Iron Dome, [or] Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians, I’m fine with that. But when you cross the line between debate and antisemitism, that’s when we need to put our foot down.

US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides, who also spoke at the event, noted that the discourse around Israel in America has become more polarized in recent years.

“We’re a democracy in the United States,” Nides said. “If you want to talk about foreign assistance, the Iron Dome, [or] Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians, I’m fine with that. But when you cross the line between debate and antisemitism, that’s when we need to put our foot down.”

Keynote speaker and distinguished historian Deborah Lipstadt, who famously won a trial against Holocaust denier David Irving, talked about how the attitude towards Jews has evolved in the Gulf as a result of the Abraham Accords.

The deputy foreign minister proudly told me, ‘I come from Medina, a city with Jewish history.’

Lipstadt was recently appointed the US’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism and is in Israel following a visit to Saudi Arabia, where she met with officials and discussed ways to bolster interfaith dialogue and combat religious extremism. Saudi Arabia and Israel have not yet normalized relations.

“There has been a tremendous change in attitudes and behavior regarding the position of women, certain religious rules, and more,” Lipstadt said. “The deputy foreign minister proudly told me, ‘I come from Medina, a city with Jewish history.’”

A big majority of today’s antisemitism is directed at the Jewish state

Meanwhile, actress Noa Tishby, Israel’s special envoy for combating antisemitism and delegitimization, discussed the pervasiveness of antisemitic vitriol on social media and argued that the vast majority is directed at questioning Israel’s right to exist.

“A big majority of today’s antisemitism is directed at the Jewish state,” Tishby said. “Jews are being ousted from liberal circles; their feeds are being attacked. My feed is being attacked all the time. This is a new way of marginalizing Jews yet again.”

To address the issue, Tishby called for the formation of a special task force involving Meta (formerly Facebook), Google, Twitter, and TikTok and based on the Global Counterterrorism Forum to help develop tools and policies to curb antisemitism.

“We do believe that social media companies want to do more, and we need to help them get there,” she said.

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