Speaking at the annual Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) Advisory Board meeting Wednesday night, chairman Natan Sharansky underscored the importance of countering the global rise of antisemitism.
“For the last 20 years, we could say antisemitism is on the rise, so what makes this year different?” said Sharansky, addressing the online meeting. “In the past, we’ve talked about antisemitism on the left, and antisemitism on the right. This year it became mainstream.”
The Combat Antisemitism Movement facilitates a non-partisan movement to defend and advocate for Jewish human rights around the world. Its coalition includes more than 650 partner organizations and 2 million people from diverse backgrounds worldwide.
Sharansky was joined by fellow CAM Advisory Board members from all over the world, including North America, Europe and the Middle East.
Board members include former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Irwin Cotler, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Ahmed Shaheed, former Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism Elan Carr, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala Mario Adolfo Búcaro Flores.
“We need to unite people on the left and the right,” Sharansky told the board members, “against the new forms of antisemitism and look for new allies. Against a huge rise in antisemitism today, we need a very broad front.”
Sharansky also emphasized that the U.N. has attempted to “delegitimize” and applies double standards regarding Israel. The CAM chairman said this is happening within a global context of extreme polarization, making it “difficult to have one weapon” with which to help counter antisemitism.
During the annual meeting, CAM outlined the following priorities:
- Expanding state and local diplomatic efforts.
- Expanding partnerships with Catholic, Evangelical, African and Muslim communities.
- Boosting grassroots support.
- Expanding antisemitism research capabilities.
- Expanding CAM’s footprint in regions such as the Balkans and Latin America.
Contributions to civilization
Shaheed advocated for not just presenting the Jewish people as victims of the Holocaust, but also for promoting “the full richness of Jewish life.” The Maldivian diplomat, politician and professor emphasized that Jewish contributions to Western civilization should be incorporated into CAM’s educational initiatives.
“Our enemies have zeroed in on taking the IHRA definition [of antisemitism] out of the equation,” lamented Shaheed.
“The thing I found most disturbing is the interactive globalization of antisemitism,” added Cotler. He cited the example of a convoy of antisemites shouting expletives and advocating violence in the streets of London only to hear the very same antisemitic chants from a convoy in Toronto days later.
The 2021 audit of antisemitic incidents in the city by the Toronto Police Service showed that the Jewish community was the most-targeted group for hate crimes.
Cotler lamented the marginalization of antisemitism in the larger global push to combat racism, arguing that antisemitism is often left out. Like Sharansky, Cotler fears the increased mainstreaming and normalization of antisemitism in the realms of politics, universities, entertainment and sports, among others.
Cotler also expressed a belief that there is an “ongoing laundering of antisemitism in the international framework…under the protective cover of the U.N.”
Offering a word of hope, Carr told his fellow board members: “There have been many periods in history where antisemitism has been far worse than it is today, and we’ve been able to roll it back. So, there are absolutely answers, there are absolutely solutions.”
Many board members also agreed on the need to deal with more subtle forms of antisemitism and not just the obvious elements such as swastika graffiti.