B’nai B’rith was well represented at the 4th International Conference of the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, held on May 28-30 in Jerusalem under the auspices of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.
B’nai B’rith’s 10-member delegation included Executive Vice President Dan Mariaschin, Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn, B’nai B’rith Canada CEO Frank Dimant, Honorary B’nai B’rith France President Jacques Jacubert, former Vienna Lodge President Raimund Fastenbauer, B’nai B’rith Canada Senior Counsel DavidMatas, National Director for Legal Affairs for B’nai B’rith Canada Anita Bromberg, Sofia Bulgaria Carmel Lodge President Solomon Bali, former Prague Lodge President Tomas Kraus. B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider participated in the workshop on "Interfaith Dialogue as an instrument to mitigate anti-Semitism".
The B’nai B’rith delegation made important contributions to the 10 working groups whose deliberations constituted the heart of the conference. The main feature of the conference, which last convened in 2009, was the development of an action plan for combating anti-Semitism in 2013 and beyond based on the findings of the workshops, which will serve as a blueprint for future action.
Opening the conference in a recorded message, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that although anti-Semites took a respite after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is becoming fashionable again. Anti-Zionism, he argued, is inseparable from anti-Semitism. Israel Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett said that just as de-legitimization of the Jews preceded the Holocaust, so too is the de-legitimization of Israel today a precursor to an attempt to destroy the Jewish state.
Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin called on world governments to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism. Other featured speakers included Lithuanian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Neris Germanis, Greek Deputy Minister of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights Konstantinos Karagounis, Hungarian Secretary of State Dr. Bence Retvari, Deputy Albanian Chief Mufti Gazmend Aga, Brighton Islamic Mission Mufti Dr. Abduljalil Sajid, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and eminent Holocaust historian professor Yehuda Bauer.
Speaking at the opening of a plenary session he chaired, Mariaschin praised the government of Israel for organizing the conference, noting that “even in the Internet age, there is no substitute to meeting and networking with so many leading activists in the struggle against anti-Semitism and sharing knowledge, experience and best practices.”
Delivering an opening lecture to the Anti-Semitism in Latin America working group, Kohn said that today demonization of Israel is central to promoting anti-Semitism. “The false analogy that is promoted goes as follows: If Israel is the State of the Jewish people, and Israel is supposedly evil, cruel, imperialist, aggressor, a power which occupies lands of other people, then the Jews must be evil. And if websites, dailies, radio and TV stations repeat these insults, the audience points their fingers to those who are close to Israel: Jewish communities.”
The Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism is an active coalition of parliamentarians, statesmen, NGOs and scholars from around the world and is the largest and most inclusive platform of its kind. Some 500 participants from over 100 countries, communities and organizations participated in the conference.
B'nai B'rith World Center
The B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem is the hub of B'nai B'rith International activities in Israel. The Center serves as the key link between Israel and B'nai B'rith members and supporters around the world.