On Wednesday, October 13, a plenary session of an international forum dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and combating antisemitism was held in the Swedish city of Malmö. Why, however, hold such a forum in a Nordic city that houses a small community of roughly 1,000 Jews?
The answer is – antisemitism. The Jewish community has shrunk following an unusual wave of antisemitism; there have been hundreds of antisemitic attacks in the city in recent years. This is most likely because Malmö has become a city of immigrants: about 100,000 Muslims live throughout the city and its suburbs, resulting in a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents against the tiny Jewish community.
Three organizations planned the event: the World Jewish Congress, Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, and the Jewish Community in Malmö. Leaders of many countries attended the forum, including Israel President Isaac Herzog, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Irish Prime Minister Michol Martin, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, and Queen Silvia. In addition, heads of companies working in the field of big-tech and social networking attended the event as well.
With hate crimes happening in the Diaspora, representatives of the Jewish community haven’t failed to remark that antisemitism bleeds into anti-Israel rhetoric. President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, addressed just that by saying: “There is now antisemitism coming from the Left. They are obsessed with the Jewish state, with Israel. What would you think if Sweden was attacked with thousands of missiles? Missiles on Malmö. On Stockholm. Terrorists who want to destroy Sweden and the entire Swedish people. How would Sweden react? Because that is what Hamas does and believes in.”
Antisemitism and anti-Zionism seem inseparable; the hatred isn’t targeted at a particular religion, but at an entire ethos of the Jewish people and all that it entails. Lauder also added: “How would you feel if the world media were to criticize Sweden when it sees it defending itself? This is absurd. Do you know what Sweden would have done to protect its citizens? Why does only Israel accept international condemnations? The hatred of the only Jewish state – must stop!”
Also at the forum, Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, voiced his concerns over the role of social media in the radicalization of youth. “We can turn social media into the most effective tool for fighting extremism,” he said. “Over the past year and a half, young people have been locked up at home in self-isolation and have been exposed around the clock to a stream of disinformation, extremism and antisemitism online.”
As we can see, the forum attracted a crowd of very influential figures from around the world to discuss possible solutions to fight Jew-hatred. Still, we can confidently say that the battle is waged against ignorance on the internet. The many social platforms aid in the spread of fake, biased news against Israel and conspiratorial theories about the Jewish people at large.
Are fancy forums with the world elites in attendance enough to stop the wave of hate crimes? That’s a good question, but to diffuse as many misconceptions about Israel as possible, the common people will have to see themselves as ambassadors on the international online arena and speak the truth about Israel.
When the veil of falsehood will be lifted, antisemitism can finally be put to rest.