Diamond: Combating the triumvirate of hatred

BDS sticker at Centrepoint No Frills (B'nai Brith Canada photo, courtesy of the Everything Jewish Toronto Facebook group)

The statistics, anecdotal evidence and our rising fears collectively suggest that anti-Semitism is indeed on the rise in the West. The anti-Semitic disease no longer resides solely with the Nazis and skinheads of this world.

Anti-Semitism, especially in the guise of anti-Zionism, is now even more dangerous, and rampant, in two very large and growing movements: the Islamist and, in some cases, the political left. The partnership of the two, known as the “red-green alliance,” has led to the formation of organizations specifically designed to undermine, and ultimately destroy, the Jewish state, under the umbrella of the malevolent BDS movement. The Jewish world is being hit from all sides by this triumvirate of hatred.

Most of the response from our community and our friends is reactive – something happens, and we react in order to ensure that things are “made right.” We play an anti-Semitism version of Whac-a-Mole, while what is needed is a strategic focus on the entire matrix of anti-Semitic activity.

In addition to local federations, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and the strong presence of Hillel on campus, there are other organizations that work to combat anti-Semitism.

One such organization is the 15-year-old Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP). I am investing in ISGAP because I believe its approaches are unique and that they generate the kinds of outcomes needed to support our community.

There are virtually no centres for the study of anti-Semitism in Western universities. This is despite the fact that anti-Semitism is a pervasive, complex and ultimately devastating societal challenge. In contrast, there are many institutions that are responsible for studying other types of racism, including Islamophobia. And it is on campus that we in the West have the greatest challenges with anti-Semitism, whether it be through BDS, its companion Israeli Apartheid Week, the anti-Semitic Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East or the often unreported delegitimization that goes on in classrooms, where professors teach that Israel is a problem to be reformed or eliminated.

ISGAP aims to defeat anti-Semitism on the battlefield of ideas. It is an academic organization and its research is used to advocate against those who would undermine or destroy the Jewish state and the Jewish people. Following a six-year study, ISGAP was able to present convincing evidence that the source of funds for much of the anti-Semitic activity on U.S. campuses originated from a number of Middle Eastern countries. The report has been reviewed from a policy perspective by the U.S. State Department, FBI, Treasury Department, the attorney general and the Department of Education.

ISGAP also recognizes that it is critical to educate professors, so they can respond to the anti-Semitic tropes being disseminated on campus. By offering a two-week course to 88 professors from 25 countries at Oxford in the U.K., ISGAP has begun to penetrate campuses where it counts – the professors.

ISGAP also offers online and in-person seminars. Its research projects include a study that is attempting to measure anti-Semitism at a level of sophistication that’s far above what we rely on today.

ISGAP is credible, as evidenced by the support of its founding honorary president, Elie Weisel, and other international figures, including Charles Small, Irwin Cotler, Alan Dershowitz, Irving Abella and its current chairperson, Natan Sharansky. A number of Canadians, including myself, are working to create a centre of learning for ISGAP in Toronto. ISGAP will work co-operatively with other Canadian organizations, including CIJA, Hillel and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.

We are a people under attack. But we are also a resilient people who know how to respond to such attacks. Organizations such as ISGAP will help to stem the tide of lies that are used to support our enemies.