Jerusalem, Israel - Oct. 31, 2017 - Chairman of the Israeli Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, MK Avraham Neguise, on Monday, October 30, 2017, at the Knesset, chaired a session on the upsurge of antisemitism in the US and Europe.
European ambassadors from Germany, European Union and Austria, and representatives from the United Kingdom and France, told of legislation and actions in combating antisemitism.
The Knesset discussion was initiated by StandWithUs, an organization working to help Jewish students on campuses learn truth about Israel and counter hate groups, led by David Borowich-Ya'ari, former CEO of Hillel Israel, who made aliyah from the United States. Speaking to the committee, Borowich-Ya’ari said, "Antisemitism should have died with the liberation of Auschwitz. Today, the sense of security felt by many Jewish communities around the world remains unstable."
In his remarks, Ya’ari specified four proposals, calling: for a more pro-active follow-up hearing to be scheduled in March and a permanent hearing be entered on the Knesset calendar on each anniversary of Kristalnacht, Ambassadors present and their colleagues to reach out to their respective governments to ban all expressions of antisemitism, the United Nations Secretary General Gutteres to follow-up on his commitment to combat antisemitism and appoint a special envoy to work with member states, and the Knesset, Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Foreign Affairs, and relevant NGO’s commit to share knowledge and resources with the Diaspora to strengthen security and provide training for Jewish communities to defend themselves.
Michael Dickson, Executive Director of StandWithUs Israel, told the committee, "We find ourselves in a uniquely challenging time, facing resurgent antisemitism on the far-right and far-left, extremists who use this as an opportunity to further smear Zionism, perversely claiming that it is comparable to fascism and white supremacy."
The committee heard startling new testimony from students on recent incidents on US college campuses, and others active in campus activism. Becky Sebo, a former Ohio University student who was arrested for trying to speak about Israel, presented slides and video. Sebo explained how pro-Israel voices were suppressed from debate by the Student Senate, and she was charged with a 4th degree misdemeanor which carried a fine and the possibility of 30 days in jail. She fought the charge and now works with StandWithUs. "You are our hero!” Neguise responded, at the end of Sebo's powerful presentation.
The next student to speak was Zachray Zimmer, a high school senior from New Jersey. “When I toured prospective colleges last year, I considered each through the filter of my own interests, location, size, academic strengths and, unfortunately, the rising tide of antisemitism faced by Jewish students on campus. I had my first encounter with anti-Jewish sentiment at UCLA in 2015, while attending a pre-college program. Taunting me for keeping kosher, a fellow participant slapped me in the face with a piece of bacon. About a week later, I was jostled to the back of our bus because, 'that’s where the Jews sit'."
MK Anat Berko, in her remarks, reminded the Ambassadors, "What starts with the Jews, does not end with the Jews."
Arab MK Ahmed Tibi made a brief appearance, bringing up "Islamophobia" as a problem, as well as antisemitism.
Reserve IDF Company Commander, Tamir Oren, now Executive Director of StandWithUs UK showed this video of him and a colleague being shouted down on the campus of Cal Poly Pamona in California.
Israel Director of Israeli Students Combating Antisemitism Ido Daniel and human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky gave statements.
After an emotional testimony Yosef Kleinman, a survivor of Auschwitz, proudly showed a recent photo of his extended family.
The Knesset session was live streamed, with English and Hebrew translations available. Among those observing the meeting was Jerry Silverman, Jewish Federation on North America CEO.
Dickson cited numerous anti-Israel and antisemitic incidents which occurred in the last week. However, he ended by saying, “Overall, BDS is losing, but we must never give up the fight. It is a fight for the truth. We stand with you and stand ready to work around the clock to push back against BDS and ensure Israel is treated fairly and positively around the world. And this is a fight we can win. We call on our friends and people of goodwill around the world to call out racism against Jews and against the Jewish State. To do so is to stand on the right side of history. ”