At First AJC Global Forum Since Pandemic, World Leaders Grapple with Burst of Anti-Jewish Hate

BY MIKE WAGENHEIM, June 21, 2022


Compared with the last time the American Jewish Committee met in 2019, much has changed for Jewish communities it advocated for across the globe, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

 As the AJC Global Forum convened in New York City this week, the focal points were those of catching up with a Jewish world that changed rapidly in the last two years from the COVID-19 pandemic, a new war in Europe and economic uncertainty.

“What we’ve seen at the moment is that [European] governments have significantly increased their actions against anti-Semitism. They support Jewish communities on a larger scale than before, and yet anti-Semitism is increasing because we have come out of a pandemic where we saw anti-Semitic content explode on the Internet,” Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Commission Coordinator on Combating Anti-Semitism and Fostering Jewish Life, told JNS.

We have a war on Ukraine where the propaganda very clearly uses Nazi language and distorts the Holocaust,” she said. “And we have an economic downslope on the horizon where traditionally Jews have been scapegoated. So all of this together means the challenges are increasing while, at the same time, our actions are also increasing.”

The forum, held in New York City’s Temple Emanu-El, kicked off on Sunday with speeches by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, as well as a prerecorded video message from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Hochul condemned rising anti-Semitism and the anti-Israel BDS movement.“I came out and made a very clear statement in the infancy of my administration. I said BDS is wrong. I said it is a targeted attack that aims to punish and cause economic harm to Israel. So, I prohibited state agencies and authorities from investing in entities that participate in BDS activities. We got that done in the state of New York very early,” Hochul told attendees.

She also announced a proclamation supporting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHA)’s working definition of anti-Semitism.

Meanwhile, Adams addressed a spike in hate crimes plaguing New York City and America as a whole. The New York Police Department reported 86 anti-Jewish hate crimes in the city in the first three months of this year alone. At this rate, annual totals would far exceed the record of 242 reported in 2019. This comes after U.S. big-city hate crimes spoked by 39% last year, according to an analysis of national police data compiled by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

“We’re at an interesting place in America. Two individual groups that don’t realize that they are assisting each other: the far, far left and the far, far right. … We must not alleviate, we must eradicate hate—that’s the focus that we’re going to have,” he said.


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