News and Views
Bennett says Diaspora Jews ‘facing anti-Semitic attacks due to Israel’s operations’
Attacks in Los Angeles, Boston, Paris, Berlin and Morocco, it is clear that Israel’s Gaza offensive is being used to justify anti-Semitism.
Jewish communities abroad are facing aggression as a result of Israel’s military operation in Gaza, Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett wrote in a letter to various bodies on Friday.
“The Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry is following events throughout the Jewish world,” Bennett said. “Some Jews in the Diaspora, we know, are facing anti-Semitic attacks due to Israel’s operations. We are documenting what is happening and are in direct contact with the relevant Jewish communities.”
Attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets have been on the rise since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge 11 days ago.
The operation escalated on Thursday evening when Israeli troops entered the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Violent protests broke out at Israel’s embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul on Thursday, leading to the withdrawal of the Israeli diplomats’ families from the Turkish cities on Friday morning.
An op-ed in a newspaper linked to the Erdogan administration called on the local Jewish community to apologize for Israel’s military campaign.
A number of attacks have occurred in France since the beginning of the most recent flare-up between Israel and Hamas, including the siege of a Parisian synagogue by pro-Palestinian demonstrators last Sunday that left several people wounded.
The previous Friday saw a firebomb thrown at a synagogue in the Aulnay-sous-Bois suburb.
Last Saturday, a pro-Palestinian crowd gathered outside a synagogue in the Paris Belleville neighborhood and chanted about slaughtering Jews.
On the same day as the Roquette synagogue incident, rioters attacked the nearby Synagogue de la rue des Tournelles.
Jews have been attacked by pro-Palestinian protesters in Boston and Los Angeles, while a Thursday protest in Berlin allegedly featured chants of “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come on out and fight.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Israel demonstrations have been held across the United States, many of which featured “calls to violence, Nazi comparisons, claims that Israel is indiscriminately murdering children, and, at times, expressions of anti-Semitism.”
Moshe Ohayon, a Moroccan rabbi, was “beaten up over Gaza,” in Casablanca last weekend, Al-Arabiya reported.
In Chile, “mock arrest warrants,” featuring allegations of Israeli war crimes, were distributed and a Jewish family had its house stoned, according to the World Jewish Congress.
Jews in South Africa have also reported feeling intimidated since the beginning of the fighting – in light of comments by figures affiliated with the ruling African National Congress party painting Israel as a modern day Nazi state and justifying the Holocaust.
In his letter, Bennett wrote that he appreciated the support of Diaspora Jewry, saying that “while the operation is being fought in Gaza, you are also on the front lines in your communities, your offices and your college campuses.”
“When people criticize Israel, you are there to respond. When people accuse the IDF of war crimes, you are our soldiers’ defenders. And when people protest against Israel in your city squares, you are there to tell the truth,” he said in an appeal for support.
The WJC and ADL agreed with Bennett’s assessment. “We obviously agree [the operation and anti-Semitism] are linked,” a WJC spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post.
Following the synagogue siege in Paris, European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor asserted that those involved in such incidents are “using the current conflict between Israel and Hamas to attack Jews.”
Bennett’s letter seems somewhat at odds with comments he made during a January cabinet meeting, when he asserted that there was no correlation between Israel’s actions and the rise of anti-Semitism.
“Anti-Semitism [has been] gaining momentum at a regular pace over the past few years and has no connection with regional developments or our policies,” Bennett said at the time.
Jewish organizations abroad have been putting their weight behind initiatives on behalf of the Jewish State, with the Jewish Federations of North America lobbying on behalf of a recently passed Congressional resolution supporting Israel’s right to self-defense and a delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations urging Secretary of State John Kerry to “press the international community to stand by Israel.”
In response to Bennett’s letter, JFNA CEO Jerry Silverman said that he agreed that “there should not be a corner of the earth where Jews are unable to live peaceful lives or be afraid to stand up for Israel.”
JTA contributed to this report.