Leading the fight against hate

EVAN ZLATKIS, “Leading the fight against hate”, May 22, 2015, The Australian Jewish News http://www.jewishnews.net.au/leading-the-fight-against-hate/41993

AUSTRALIAN activists were among the 1200 delegates at the fifth Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem last week.

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council director of international and community affairs Jeremy Jones, who has participated in all the previous forums, noted the size of this year’s event, with participants from more than 80 countries, representing governments, NGOs, religious organisations, academia and business.

“Clearly, anti-Semitism demands the attention of not just Jewish experts on racism and community organisations, but of many non-Jewish leaders, politicians and civil society in general,” he said, adding  that a major development was the “passion and fighting spirit now on public display”.

“It is doubtful anyone could match the fiery denunciation of anti-Semites and their enablers delivered by Hassen Chalghoumi, a French Muslim leader, but the statements by European political leaders came close,” Jones said.

“At the working group I chaired, on the subject of interfaith dialogue’s role in mitigating anti-Semitism, we completely reframed the Draft Action Plan to reflect the urgency of a need for a less gentle, far more direct and aggressive approach to the problem.”

He said the three main issues highlighted in the plenary sessions were the role of online media in enabling and responding to anti-Semitism; the prevalence of anti-Jewish activity in Europe and the role of governments in combating it; and the work of Muslim leaders in tackling anti-Semitism and extremism promoted in the name of Islam.

“It is to Australia’s credit that in two of these areas, the online issue and religious sources of anti-Semitism, we are seen as having experts and programs of the highest international order,” Jones said.

Other Australians at the forum included Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI) CEO Dr Andre Oboler, who co-chaired the “Anti-Semitism on the Internet and in the Media” working group.

“The working group endorsed 77 recommendations, including a strong endorsement of the fightagainsthate.com reporting system developed here in Australia by the OHPI,” Oboler said. “Acknowledging that progress has been made by social media companies over the last two years, the working group noted there was still much work to be done.”

Oboler added: “The circulation by the OHPI of 700 guide books for tackling online anti-Semitism and 500 copies of a report on the current state of online anti-Semitism to participants of the forum was warmly received, and significantly enhanced the discussion both inside and outside the working groups.”

Executive Council of Australian Jewry research officer Julie Nathan and Libby Burke of the Queensland Jewish Board of Deputies also attended the forum, along with former Australians Arsen Ostrovsky, Dani Wassner and Rachael Risby-Raz, who represented Israeli organisations, and former ambassador to Australia, Yuval Rotem.

Praising the speech by Malcolm Hoenlein, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations, Nathan said, “He called for an international structure to combat anti-Semitism and to provide security for Jews. Hoenlein asserted that Jews must not feel alone, and issued a clarion call welcoming all support. He declared that the world must stand up for Jews, and warned that we want no more hollow words.”