Professor Irwin Cotler gave the Annual Gandel Oration earlier tonight (21st July) in Sydney.
In the introduction to his superb talk, Prof Cotler stated that he was particularly pleased to be in Sydney , the home of the late Professor Julius Stone, who was one of his legal mentors, and a giant in the field of international law.
While traditional or classical anti-Semitism (AS) denied rights of Jews to live normal lives in their community, the new form of AS is a global, virulent and potential lethal attempt to deny the Jewish people the right to live as an equal member of the nations. While new AS is initially directed more at groups than the individual Jew, it will, however, also lead to attacks on the individual.
In 2002, Eli Weisel identified the urgent danger that AS posed, in a way that he had not felt since 1945. But it never disappeared, and Jean Paul Sartre said that if the Jew did not exist, antisemites would have to invent him. Cotler further noted that AS cannot be fought or won by Jews alone.
As he focused on the new AS, Cotler noted that there are not yet good indicators and measures, in contrast to those available for classical or traditional AS. Cotler identified 6 indices drawn from international law and able to be understood in academic terms, not just viscerally.
Genocidal antisemitism – this is the most lethal – a toxic convergence of AS with state sanctioned incitement to genocide.
This is exemplified by Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric and underpinned by the Iranian pursuit of the atom bomb. The goal of wiping Israel off the map is buttressed by support such as “As the Imam says” , descriptions of Israel as a cancerous tumour, and denial of the Holocaust with an attempt to create a new one. Hamas and Hezbollah also have genocidal objectives, supported by religious fatwas akin to Salman Rushdie. The sanctions are against Jews, and an execution writ against a people; the Jewish nation being the only one to which the threat of genocide is directed.
This denies Israel right to exist to start with, a denial of self determination that is accorded to other nations.
Ideological or Racialist antisemitism
Laundered under the protective cover of the struggle against racism , this form of AS is pernicious. Durban 1 was a horrific and Orwellian example of this approach where Israel is seen as the new antiChrist
Many like Cotler who attended Durban 1 in 2001 were psychologically scarred by the aggression they witnessed, including the cries that the” struggle against racism in the 21st century is to dismantle the Jewish state, which is apartheid and Nazi.” What hypocrisy! And what an insult to those who indeed helped dismantle apartheid in South Africa! This ideologic approach posits that Israel is a crime against humanity and that there is a moral responsibility to destroy it.
AS is conducted under protective cover of the UN, with decision making in the Human Rights Council being a mockery; of the first 33 resolutions, 26 were against Israel, and not one against Sudan, Iran. Since there is a permanent agenda against Israel (item 7) for every meeting of this council, Israel is indicted using this “lawfare” even before the meeting begins.
Globalisation of Boycotts
It began in the UK, and has spread to include academics and trade unions. In practice, it singles out Israel and its supporters for demonization. On student campuses, Israel is often seen as “the poster child for the poisoner of the wells.” For students who want to identify with campus culture, it is often anti-Israel, and building a coalition with other groups can be difficult. Cotler powerfully asked – who are the real racists? It is up to academics to see that free speech is not just reserved for the haters, but also to prevent intimidation of Jews and other supporters of Israel.
Old- new Protocols of the Elders of Zion
While it has been well established that the original Protocols was a Tsarist forgery, the idea has been reenergized, with Jews accused of being responsible for all things evil – the Danish cartoons, the Popes criticism of Islam, Darfur, Sept 11th, spreading AIDS and Swine Flu among Palestinians. The Swedish journalist accusation of Israelis stealing organs is just one example of a lie with long legs
In concluding, Cotler suggested that a new template needs to be developed to combat the new AS. He provided several legal approaches to combat the new AS. He noted that Genocide occurred not because of the machinery but because of state sanctioned culture of hate. To combat that, there is an annual commemoration of the Holocaust in Canada parliament, teaching people to be custodians of memory. He encouraged Australia to join an International task force on education related to the Holocaust.
Cotler acknowledged the Holocaust survivors who showed the moral capacity to move forward despite the evil they had witnessed. Just as we can’t afford to be silent about Darfur, we need to point out that the new antisemitism is also an assault against the values that we care about.
Cotler is truly a giant on the world stage in the identification of, and fight against the new Antisemitism.