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Confronting antisemitism’s global surge

I call on all public figures who stand with Hamas to resign from their positions and retire from public life.

Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protesters gather in front of the Colorado Convention Center, the site of the opening plenary of the Jewish National Fund-USA annual conference, Nov. 30, 2023. Photo by Carin M. Smilk.
Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protesters gather in front of the Colorado Convention Center, the site of the opening plenary of the Jewish National Fund-USA annual conference, Nov. 30, 2023. Photo by Carin M. Smilk.
Danny Danon
Ambassador Danny Danon is a senior member of Knesset and chairman of World Likud. He previously served as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, minister of science and technology and deputy minister of defense.

For years, a disconcerting resurgence of antisemitism has been underway worldwide, prompting deep concerns among the global Jewish community. Throughout Europe, North America, Australia and South Africa, authorities, law enforcement agencies and community organizations have reported a disturbing upswing in antisemitic behavior. These incidents extend beyond mere expressions of hatred, encompassing tangible acts of violence directed at both individuals and Jewish institutions.

This surge in antisemitism became a tidal wave following the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre, which targeted innocent Jewish communities in Israel, including babies, children, women and men alike who were tortured, raped, beaten, beheaded, burnt and slaughtered. According to the ADL Center on Extremism, reported incidents in this period increased by nearly 400% compared to the same period in the preceding year.

One might anticipate an unequivocal global condemnation of Hamas’s atrocities. The opposite occurred. Jewish communities worldwide were dismayed to witness threatening pro-Palestinian marches at which support for Hamas and their actions against innocent Israeli civilians was expressed, even before Israel began its ground operation in Gaza. Some took place on the same day as the massacre itself. Many of them occurred on the streets of major world capitals and campuses across the U.S. and Europe. They were frequently accompanied by antisemitic chants, including calls for a “global intifada” and the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state.

Violence often ensued as a direct result of this hate speech, with bystanders or supporters of Israel becoming the targets of physical attacks. In a particularly disturbing incident, Paul Kessler, a proud advocate for Israel, was fatally struck on the head by a megaphone wielded by a pro-Palestinian protester during a demonstration in California. Kessler’s subsequent tragic death reverberated through his community and beyond, sending shockwaves worldwide.

On university campuses, disturbing incidents have been reported by both Jewish students and faculty members, detailing instances of harassment and assault. At Cornell University, a lecturer described the Hamas massacre as an “exciting event.” Similarly, at the University of California Davis, a staff member used social media to incite violence against Jewish students. At the University of Michigan, approximately 1,000 staff members signed a document falsely accusing Israel of atrocities that were, in fact, committed by Hamas.

All these incidents are deeply alarming, but the congressional hearing held last Tuesday has stirred international outrage. The hearing, which lasted five hours, subjected the presidents of three prestigious U.S. universities—Harvard, Penn and MIT—to questioning about their institutions’ policies regarding antisemitic speech and activities.

During this session, none of the presidents unequivocally advocated for an outright ban on hate speech. They even struggled to decisively categorize calls for “the genocide of Jews” as either bullying or harassment, asserting that such determinations require “action” on the part of the bullies and harassers or “depend on the context.” Despite numerous opportunities to condemn such hate speech, they declined to do so.

While these universities demonstrate zero tolerance against discrimination towards other minority groups, they have consistently turned a blind eye to speech advocating for the annihilation of the entire Jewish people. Their selective discrimination is morally bankrupt and must be condemned.

This confessed reluctance to address antisemitism directly has contributed to heightened violence and intimidation against Jews on campus, raising serious concerns about the physical safety and well-being of students.

The overtly antisemitic behavior exhibited by these universities has prompted philanthropists who have made substantial donations to them to publicly withdraw all funding. Penn is currently facing a lawsuit alleging that the institution “enforces its own rules of conduct selectively to avoid protecting Jewish students from hatred and harassment, hires rabidly antisemitic professors who call for anti-Jewish violence and spread terrorist propaganda and ignores Jewish students’ pleas for protection.” It is not surprising that the president of Penn has now resigned.

In a disheartening parallel to the universities, the majority of women’s rights groups around the world have chosen not to denounce the rape and abuse inflicted upon women and girls on Oct. 7 and the ongoing suffering of the hostages in Gaza. While these groups readily condemn such acts in other cases, their silence on this issue speaks volumes. Their absence of outrage is a betrayal of all women.

After 57 days, U.N. Women finally addressed the atrocities on Dec. 2, claiming that they unequivocally condemn the brutal attacks by Hamas. Just two days prior, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres finally broke his silence when he tweeted, “There are numerous accounts of sexual violence during the abhorrent acts of terror by Hamas on Oct. 7 that must be vigorously investigated and prosecuted.” Coming a full eight weeks after the massacre, both these statements were insufficient, revealing a blatant double standard concerning Jewish people.

The premeditated atrocities committed by Hamas, surpassing the brutality of ISIS, have been ignored or downplayed by the U.N. and other prominent global bodies. Their silence not only shifted blame onto the victims but also served to legitimize Hamas’s atrocities. This silence constitutes a betrayal of all victims everywhere.

Individuals and organizations claiming to champion social justice have, through their actions, engaged in unforgivable and horrifying behavior.  I call on all public figures who stand with Hamas to resign from their positions and retire from public life. Their implicit or explicit endorsement of a terror organization goes against the most basic human values.

Likewise, global bodies that fail to condemn the atrocities or indirectly support Hamas should be defunded. They have proved themselves unfit and unworthy of the positions they enjoy and exploit.

Human rights are universal and non-negotiable, transcending religious or ethnic identities. Violence, rape and atrocities against any individual are unacceptable, regardless of gender or identity.

Perhaps pro-Hamas individuals and organizations should take note.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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