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Combat Antisemitism Movement Advisory Board Chair Natan Sharansky Issues Warning at Annual Meeting, Says Antisemitism Has Become ‘Mainstream’

January 12, 2023

NEW YORK CITY —  Joined by fellow CAM Advisory Board members such as former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, Canadian Antisemitism Special Envoy Irwin Cotler, former UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed, and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala Mario Búcaro, Chairman Natan Sharansky told those present, “For the last 20 years, we could say antisemitism is on the rise, so what makes this year different? In the past, we’ve talked about antisemitism on the left, and antisemitism on the right. This year it became mainstream.”

Sharansky also emphasized that the United Nations has attempted to “delegitimize” Israel, and holds double standards toward Israel. Board members joined from all over the world, including North America, Europe, and the Middle East.

All of this is happening within a context of extreme polarization everywhere, Sharansky added, making it “difficult to have one weapon” with which to help suppress antisemitism. “We need to unite people on the left and the right,” Sharansky said to the Advisory Board, “against the new forms of antisemitism; and look for new allies. Against a huge rise in antisemitism today, we need a very broad front.”

The Combat Antisemitism Movement is an organization facilitating a non-partisan movement to defend and advocate for Jewish human rights around the world. Its coalition includes more than 650 partner organizations and 2 million people from diverse backgrounds worldwide. During their annual meeting they outlined priorities including:

– Expanding state and local diplomatic efforts

– Expanding partnerships with Catholic, Evangelical, African, and Muslim communities

– Boosting grassroots support

– Expanding antisemitism research capabilities

– And expanding CAM’s footprint in regions like the Balkans and Latin America

Advisory Board Member and former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Ahmed Shaheed advocated for not just presenting the Jewish people as victims of the Holocaust, but also for promoting “the full richness of Jewish life.” He emphasized their contributions to Western civilization and that such facts should be incorporated into CAM’s educational initiatives.

Shaheed also lamented the intense pushback against the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism. “Our enemies have zeroed in on taking the IHRA definition out of the equation,” he said.

“The thing I found most disturbing is the interactive globalization of antisemitism,” added Board Member Irwin Cotler. His example for this was a convoy of antisemites shouting expletives and advocating violence in the streets of London, only to hear the very same exact antisemitic chants from a convoy in Toronto days later.

Cotler lamented the marginalization of antisemitism in the larger global push to combat racism, arguing that antisemitism is often left out. Like Sharansky, he too fears the increasing mainstreaming and “normalization and legitimization” of antisemitism in the world of politics, universities, entertainment, and sports, among others. He also believes there is an “ongoing laundering of antisemitism in the international framework…under the protective cover of the UN.”

Rev. Johnnie Moore, Advisory Board member and president of The Congress of Christian Leaders, reflected on the challenges in the United States. “As we begin this year, it’s important to remember last year,” said Moore. “Last year began, one year ago this week, with a terrorist invading a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas and last year ended with vicious antisemitism from a cultural icon, Kanye West. The work of CAM could not possibly be more important than it is today.”

Offering a word of hope, former U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism Elan Carr told his fellow board members, “There have been many periods in history where antisemitism has been far worse than it is today, and we’ve been able to roll it back. So there are absolutely answers, there are absolutely solutions.”

Many Advisory Board members also agreed on the need to deal with the more subtle forms of antisemitism, not just the obvious elements such as swastika graffiti.

The Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) is a global coalition engaging more than 600 partner organizations and nearly two million people from a diverse array of religious, political, and cultural backgrounds in the common mission of fighting the world’s oldest hatred. CAM acts collaboratively to build a better future, free of bigotry, for Jews and all humanity.

Website | combatantisemitism.org 

Facebook | facebook.com/CombatAntiSemitism

Twitter | twitter.com/CombatASemitism