of Kostas Constantinos, IN.GR, 15.7.2021

In Jerusalem from 13 to 15.7.2021 hundreds of personalities from all over the world, representing countries, political tendencies and different religions, were there to definitively answer the question "what is anti-Semitism" in our time

From its most traditional focus, the Far Right, to the extreme Left, but also the fruit of the era, the conspiracy theorists, anti-Semitism is currently recording an unprecedented increase worldwide, at least since the Holocaust.

Hatred against Jewish identity, overt or covert, leads to a rapid increase in attacks, physical as well as verbal, against people of Jewish origin to the point that many times, even in the "liberal West" or rather mainly there, many Jews are forced, for the first time in decades, to conceal symbols and other identifying features when in public view. It is not only the people, it is also the places of worship of the Jewish communities, even the Holocaust memorials and the Jewish cemeteries, that are being desecrated, something that we have unfortunately experienced quite strongly in Greece in recent years.

Here in Jerusalem, on 13.7.2021, the most important international event for all those fighting the growing hatred against the Jews began. The 7th World Forum to Combat Anti-Semitism, which is held every two or three years, this year attracts an impressive number of speakers from around the world, aspiring to unite voices and forces across religious, political and national divides.

Muslims present

It is indicative that Muslim organizations have also come to Jerusalem, such as British Muslims Against Anti-Semitism, while people such as Imam Mohammad Ismail, one of the most eminent scholars of Islam in the United Kingdom, will speak. And the fact is far from accidental since, all over the world and especially in Europe, there is freedom of expression and also Jewish communities, in contrast to the Muslim states, in most of which the Jews were expelled after the establishment of Israel. So in these Western countries, mainly, Muslims realize that anti-Semitism, like all forms of racism, is essentially no different. Experiencing first-hand the rejection due to their identity, more and more Muslims realize that the enemy they have to face with the Jewish communities is common and concerns them equally, as it certainly concerns other groups - national, social and not only -, who experience hatred and marginalization.

The Forum, which was opened on 13.7.2021 by the president of Israel Isaac Herzog, aspires to give a platform to all kinds of reflections regarding this huge issue internationally, primarily facing the great challenge of the days: the answer to the question "what is anti-Semitism" , in fact, at a time when things are not clear in the perception of many people, as this perception does not appear only in its traditional form - of swastikas in Jewish cemeteries or attacks against Jews with religious characteristics in Europe -, but is hidden in parallel narratives which are extremely dangerous and based on the distortion of the Middle East. Of a clearly political issue presented in a way that looks like a religious and national one and ends up in the familiar, nightmarish reality of the "evil Jew", from the experience of which humanity today seems to have learned less than ever before.

The football experience

In Jerusalem there are – or will speak via the Internet – representatives of the most unlikely groups imaginable. But which, if you think about it, is anything but improbable. Like for example the presidents of Chelsea, the Hungarian Ferencvár and Borussia Dortmund, as the field of football is one of the most difficult, since extreme and massive racism and anti-Semitism manifests itself there. Here are also government advisers, parliamentarians from all over the world, mayors of European cities who face a relevant problem or have experience of handling such phenomena, as well as high-ranking representatives of religions and churches who are equally concerned and disturbed by the turn things are taking in relation to anti-Semitism. To them are added a few dozen prominent academics, among whom stands out the well-known Greek academic and author Dr. Leon Saltiel, representative of the World Jewish Council at the UN in Geneva and at UNESCO.

It is of course no coincidence that the "practical" part of the conference began on 14.7.2021 with a presentation by the famous academic and author Deborah Lipstad, perhaps the leading living figure in the fight against anti-Semitism. The 74-year-old historian today became a symbol of this struggle when she won the famous trial against the Holocaust denier, anti-Semite and racist (according to the decision in the British Justice) David Irving, which was a milestone in the efforts against the historical counterfeiting and hatred against Jews.

Obligation for Greece

For Greece, a country that saw its Jewish part almost disappear under the German occupation, while despite the efforts of many Greeks 81% of the country's Jews (about 70.000 people) were murdered in concentration camps, the battle against anti-Semitism is not neither something far-fetched nor simply an exercise to protect the remaining and now struggling for survival Israeli community. It is above all an obligation towards History and the feeling of humanity of each and every one of us.

SOURCE: IN.GR website, 15.7.2021