EJC President's Address to Jewish Students on April 22, 2009
My dear young colleagues!
We are standing today at a dramatic crossroads. The decisions we make today shall have great impact on our future, and your future – the future of our children.
Will we make brave decisions? Or are we going to be misled, or, even worse, are we going to mislead ourselves?
This is the question I have asked European leaders over the past few months.
The rising anti-Semitism we saw at the end of 2008 and early in 2009 is not only a result of the Gaza operation. It is a dangerous trend that is becoming more and more dangerous each day. The writing is on the wall!
This new phase of anti-Semitism brings together Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe. It is fuelled by a combination of hatred against the Jewish people and the Jewish state and the economic crisis. This dangerous cocktail is being cleverly orchestrated behind the curtains by a UN member state – Iran.
The world must understand that this dangerous cocktail of hate, supported and planned by the state, is very likely to explode. As we have learnt from history, when it explodes, everyone will fall victim.
The so-called Durban-II, the UN conference which is currently taking place, is a miniature of the bigger picture. The reaction of the world and its leaders to the conference means a lot.
As we officially know, the countries leading the preparatory team for this conference on human rights are Iran and Libya, the two most significant symbols of human rights violation.
The preparations were carried out over months to test the world. Will the world allow them to sacrifice the Jewish state on the altar of human rights – phony human rights? Will the world be silent? Will it be misled? Will European leaders make a brave decision? Or will they follow the mob and let Jews and Israel be the scapegoat to appease them?
When I confronted some EU leaders with the terrible figures of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe in early 2009, I was amazed at their reaction. They blamed Israel’s Gaza operation for the attacks.
Would they accept mosques being burnt by Jews in Europe in response to terrorist attacks in Israel? Would they accept attacks on churches?
I also ask myself – why is the basic right of every UN member state to defend itself reserved for all states, but denied to Israel? Isn’t that yet another sign of anti-Semitism?
Maybe these questions are to be dealt with at the conference? But no. The conference is an important test.
Mr. Ahmadinejad, who is conducting this test, decided to come to the conference to witness the test first-hand. This man, who called for annihilation of another UN member state, who denies the Holocaust, is welcomed to the UN again and again.
The test is very important for Mr. Ahmadinejad. It will tell him if the world is ready to sacrifice Israel, to be a bystander, again assuming that there is no danger for it. Then Ahmadinejad will continue with his more dangerous plans, his nuclear plans, and the execution of his threats.
This is the test we are witnessing today, this is the question. Are world leaders going to read the writing on the walls, or are they going to let themselves be blindfolded?
We have met with many European leaders over the past few months and described to them the real picture of this conference, asking them to open their eyes and act.
On March 30, we arranged the European Symposium on anti-Semitism. Dozens of top EU parliamentarians and ministers expressed a fundamental conclusion: Europe and the world need Israel not less than Israel needs the clear and definite support of Europe and the world. Why? Because Israel is the only real democratic state in the Middle East where all humanitarian values are really respected. This is the position of Europeans, non-Jewish Europeans. That is why Israel is so important as a provider of security and insurer of peace in this region. We have the right to demand a definite position from the world on the issue of discrimination against the State of Israel. If not, the world should understand that the idea of Iran dominating the region with nuclear weapons will have solid ideological support. This is the direct way to force implementing scenario by sacrificing the peace in the world.
In some cases we witnessed fatigue and indifference. But in other cases – with Czechs, Dutch, and many other countries – we found brave friends who we hope will stand up and speak in a clear voice.
I noticed that in Russian diplomatic circles, and it is Russia’s representative who chairs the final declaration committee, that there are those who seek a political compromise. But, dear friends, it is not a choice between Iran and Israel that has to be made. It is the choice between racism and the values of tolerance and human rights. We do respect the efforts of Russian diplomacy, and we urge Russia and its followers to take a firm stand for tolerance.
Today – and in my view it is no coincidence – is also Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day). A time when the world failed all its moral tests. A time when Jews were scapegoats. But also a time when not only Jews suffered from this failure – but many others as well.
I hope the UN, which was created as a result of the world’s worst tragedy, will find a way to fulfil its mission and prevent another catastrophe. The European Union, the United States and Russia should be a united leader in all humanitarian dimensions, such as education, politics, legislation and media.
Thank you very much for your attention. I wish you much success in life.