This week the W@Y is on location in Israel/Palestine and will be filing various short items and photographs.
The first is from Herzliya where the former UK Chief Rabbi Johathan Sacks gave a stark warning saying, “If Europe is not safe for Jews, it is not safe for Europeans”.
He was speaking at the Herzliya Security conference in Israel – an annual gathering of high-powered diplomats, military figures, and thinkers.
Sacks has earned a reputation as a person to whom it is worth listening. He is not given to flights of hyperbole or aggression.
His comments were during a debate entitled “Islam and BDS in Europe: A Strategic Threat?”.
It’s an interesting title insofar as economically the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement has failed to damage Israel whatsoever, but it recognizes that the point of BDS is not economic but propaganda. It seeks to single out Israel, make it socially unacceptable to deal with, and thus isolate and weaken it.
The Israeli economy has been growing for a decade now and trade between it and business partners has grown accordingly. In that sense the BDS movement is a failure, however, several generations of students, some of whom will go into public life, have been persuaded that Israel is the world’s worst human rights offender and so is a special case.
Sacks argues that’s behind this ‘anti-Zionism’ “is the new anti-Semitism”. He told the conference that Jews used to be hated because of religion, then race, and now because of Israel.
His view is that anti Semites have to draw on authority to demonize Jews. In the Middle Ages that authority was from the Church, in the 19th century it was ‘science’ such as social Darwinism, but that now ‘Human rights are the highest form of authority. For this reason it is used against Israel. The new anti-Semitism has to be spoken in the language of human rights.”
He warned “ It is an assault on freedom. We must not be left to face this battle alone.”.
No-one from the BDS movement was at the conference to rebut his argument but it denies being anti-Semitic and says it “calls for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights.”
The W@Y is attending the Herzliya Conference at the invitation of BICOM – the independently funded ‘Britain Israel Communication and Research Centre’.