Deciphering, Mapping and Exposing Rapidly-Rising Antisemitism
Bar-Ilan University international conference addressed and analyzed the various expressions of Jew hatred around the world and on social media
The growing tide of antisemitism, skyrocketing to its highest peaks since World War II, is expressed in many forms around the world, with alarming new incidents reported daily. How is Jew hatred expressed in various countries in Europe? The Middle East? Latin America? On social media?
Bar-Ilan University held a full-day conference, with the participation of senior international scholars, discussed the evolution of antisemitism, and characterized its various forms across all these geographic regions and platforms.
“One of the hallmarks of this conference is the demonstration of global tolerance towards antisemitism, not just in public arenas regarded as breeding grounds for antisemitism, but also in liberal democratic settings. Instead of treating antisemitism as a historical phenomenon, this conference will place it in a global, modern, and contemporary context, because antisemitism takes on new, complex, and dynamic forms in today’s ‘global village’ — forms that must be deciphered, mapped, and exposed,” says conference organizer Dr. Efrat Aviv, of Bar-Ilan University’s Department of General History.
In recent days the Bulgarian Ambassador to Israel has been criticized for failing to attend a conference on Bulgarian Holocaust history organized by Bar-Ilan University, among others. At the conference, Prof. Rumyana Christidi, Head of Jewish Studies at Sofia University in Bulgaria, will comment on a recent survey on Antisemitism in Bulgaria conducted by the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Bulgarian Diplomatic Institute. According to Christidi, the survey found less of a phenomenon of antisemitism in Bulgaria, in the opinion of Jews and non-Jews alike, but that the Jews are troubled by the escalation of antisemitism elsewhere in the world and are concerned that this upswing will eventually penetrate their borders.
In another recent incident, musician Roger Waters, who has made anti-Israel statements in the past that many say crosses a line into antisemitism, performed a concert in Berlin wearing a Nazi-style costume. Scholar Benjamin Weinthal, of the Middle East Forum, will discuss modern antisemitism in Germany. “Secondary antisemitism, namely the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel responses of many Germans to the Holocaust, is the most widespread form of modern antisemitism in Germany and the most understudied and neglected manifestation of Jew hatred. Questions abound as to whether German governments have internalized the lessons of the Holocaust in light of eliminatory Iranian regime antisemitism and the reported failures of German governments to confront the Islamic Republic’s genocidal antisemitism.”
Evidence suggests that the internet has become a utilitarian and radicalizing tool used by extremists for spreading their radical propaganda such as antisemitism, xenophobia and terrorism. In his lecture on online radicalization, Dr. Lev Topor, of the Woolf Institute at the University of Cambridge, will address the lack of proper regulation by technology and internet providers, alongside the incompetence of local laws, to temper down online radicalism that has turned the internet, including social media or even the dark web, into the perfect tool to radicalize people, spread hate and promote violence. “In dealing with online antisemitism, one should not focus on censorship of mainstream social media, but instead on eradicating triggers and hubs of radicalization, like anonymous or closed groups, and on eradicating actual planning and execution of antisemitism,” says Topor. “That is, the focus should be on the shift of users from the online domain to the real domain.”
While the 2022 Annual Report on Antisemitism in Italy illustrates numerous forms of hate incidents against Jews, Dr. Stefano Gatti, from the Anti-Semitism Observatory at the CDEC Foundation and co-author of the Report, will focus on a list of 338 books with antisemitic content registered by the Observatory between 2018 and 2022, and the publishing houses that print them. The only center on the Italian Peninsula which constantly monitors and researches antisemitism, the Observatory collects antisemitic-related data daily, then monitors and studies it, along with content received from the 24-hour hotline Antenna Antisemitismo, a facility that records and analyzes reports of antisemitic incidents. According to Gatti, publishing houses specializing in these books are increasingly active and new texts are added to their catalogues every year, with the most productive anti-Semitic pamphleteers numbering around thirty. An editorial branch that is constantly and progressively growing is the conspiracy sector, to which the globalization of the economy, social networks, various economic crises, the coronavirus pandemic and the war against Ukraine have given great impetus and legitimacy.
Regarding antisemitism and BDS in Latin America, Gabriel Colodro, President of the Chilean Community of Israel who will speak on the subject, says, “Antisemitism in Latin America combines a number of unique complexities, from the heritage of classical, religious, and political anti-Semitism under the influence of Nazism to today’s overwhelming Iranian influence, manifesting itself in strong anti-Semitic campaigns ranging from open propaganda to actions from the legislative and executive powers in countries that share a long-lasting cooperation history with Israel.”
Prof. Samuel Trigano, of Paris Nanterre University, will lecture on Anti-Zionism, A New Age of Jew Hatred: The French Case. “Concerning the French case, it seems to me very significant of today’s antisemitism: a compound of Jihad and antizionism, joining two different populations, immigrants from North Africa and the progressive far left,” he says.
Keynote speakers Prof. Dan Michman, from Yad Vashem and Bar-Ilan University, and Prof. Dina Porat, from Yad Vashem and Tel Aviv University, will address the meaning of the word antisemitism and the evolution of its definition.
Additional conference speakers will include Prof. Jöel Kotek, of the Free University of Brussels, on Holocaust Distortion in the Mirror of the Flemish Example: Secondary Antisemitism and Criminalization of Israel; Prof. Eyal Zisser, of Tel Aviv University, who will discuss the resurgence of anti-Israel sentiment in the Arab and Islamic world; and Dr. Barak Bouks, from Bar-Ilan University, who will highlight select cases of proxy Iranian terror groups and enemy states’ media over the past five years.