PM Netanyahu addresses the Global Forum against anti- Semitism. (Kobi Gideon/GPO) (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israel has learned the lessons of history and will defend itself, PM Netanyahu vowed at the opening of the 5th Global Forum for Combating anti-Semitism.

Anti-Israel BDS campaigns are on the rise. (A. Katz/Shutterstock)

Anti-Israel BDS protesters. (A. Katz/Shutterstock)

Israel has become the focus of the world’s modern anti-Semitism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday in an address at the opening of the 5th Global Forum for Combating anti-Semitism in Jerusalem.

“With the end of World War II and the revelation of the horrors of the Holocaust, some believed that humanity would discard one of history’s oldest hatreds – anti-Semitism,” he said. However, this has not transpired, and “today there is no doubt that we are living in an age of resurgent anti-Semitism.”

Today’s anti-Semitism is not the thinking of extremists, as “it wears the mask of so-called progressive thinking in the West. Some of those who consider themselves champions of tolerance are remarkably intolerant when it comes to Jews and the Jewish state,’’ he said.

“Classic anti-Semitism portrayed Jews as the embodiment of all evil in world while modern anti-Semites portray the Jewish state as the embodiment of all evil in the world.”

“Contemporary anti-Semitism doesn’t just slander, vilify and target the Jewish people. It first and foremost today targets the Jewish state. That’s the nexus, that’s the core, that’s the focus of anti-Semitism,” the Israeli leader clarified.

Explaining why Israel’s defense against Hamas’ terror elicits violent demonstrations throughout Europe, while the massacres of civilians through the Middle East is met by indifference, Netanyahu said: “This is a travesty” and “there is something fundamentally wrong that this slander is reserved for the one country in the region where the death penalty is not even used against the most gruesome terrorist murderers.” It’s anti-Semitism, he said. “Today the treatment of Israel is no different from the treatment of our forbearers. The Jewish state is being treated among the nations the way the Jewish people were treated for generations.”

European Leaders Are Responsible

While praising European leaders for taking steps to combat the rising tide of anti-Semitism, he also called on the Continent’s leaders to check themselves, as “anti-Semitism, contrary to what people think, doesn’t just bubble up from below. It percolates also from the top, and that’s why it’s so important that there are leaders here… who are gearing up to fight this old obsession,” he said.

Europe Gaza Protests

A poster in 2014 depicting PM Netanyahu and Palestinian flags in front of the Israeli embassy in Berlin. (Anti Defamation League)

The Israeli Prime Minister reiterated his message that Israel has learned the lessons of history. “We are no longer a stateless people searching for a safe haven. We are no longer a powerless people begging others to protect us. Today we have an independent and sovereign state. Today we can protect ourselves and defend our freedoms, our lives.”

“We have learned that if you don’t fight it, if unstopped, these fires of anti-Semitism eventually spread and they consume everyone. That is, I think, the central lesson of the 20th century, in many ways the central lesson of modern times,” warned Netanyahu, and “so for the sake of decency, for the sake of our common humanity, for the sake of our common future, we must all continue to stand up and fight anti-Semitism.”

Some 1,000 leaders and experts from around the world are taking part in the forum in Jerusalem including the Justice Ministers of Germany and Romania, the Education Minister of Bulgaria, the Mayor of Paris, and the Minister of State for Multiculturalism from Canada.

The 5th Forum is organized by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs. It is focusing on two main points : ‘The Oldest Hatred in the Newest Vessels: Confronting Anti-Semitism and Hate Speech on the Internet and in Social Media,’ as well as ‘The Rise of Anti-Semitism in Europe’s Cities Today: Means of Response.’