Center Presents Inaugural Positive Trends in Fighting Antisemitism Report to the President of Israel
On a snowy Thursday in Jerusalem, a delegation from the Center, led by Prof. Uriya Shavit, the Head of the Center, presented its inaugural report on encouraging legal, political, and cultural developments in the fight against antisemitism to the President of Israel, Isaac Herzog. President Herzog was presented the report, titled For A Righteous Cause: Positive Trends in Fighting Antisemitism and Radicalization around the World, at a special ceremony held at his official Jerusalem residence on International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27), the day on which the Auschwitz death camp was liberated in 1945.
The report is the product of a six-month team effort by eight academic experts at Tel Aviv University from various fields and addresses positive developments in a number of different areas. The contributors include: Dr. Inna Shtasker, who wrote on the restoration of Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe; Dr. Ofir Winter and Dr. Giovanni Quer, who wrote on encouraging developments in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain; Prof. Dina Porat, who wrote on political and legislative developments in Europe and North America; Dr. Tomer Fadlon, who wrote on the efforts of sports organizations and clubs to combat antisemitism; and Adv. Talia Naamat, who wrote on legal developments in Europe and the United States.
In his opening remarks, Prof. Shavit addressed the impetus behind the report and the purpose in highlighting encouraging legal, political, and cultural developments in the fight against antisemitism. Noting that discourse on antisemitism typically focuses on troubling negative trends, Prof. Shavit stated, “[The Center] decided that a positive report, describing encouraging developments and activities, should also be published – for three reasons: expressing appreciation for those already active; impelling more governments and organizations worldwide to initiate similar activities; and promoting a discussion on concrete proposals for improving existing programs.”
Adv. Arie Zuckerman, the Chairman of the Center’s Board, spoke after Prof. Shavit and noted the rise in antisemitic incidents in the last several years, much of it fueled by conspiracy theories connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. This, in turn, has led to a growing sense of insecurity among Jewish communities across Europe and around the world. Nevertheless, as the Center’s new report shows, positive steps have been taken in the past year to fight against the rise in antisemitism. These efforts should be commended and others should be encouraged to follow their example.
Two of report’s contributors, Prof. Dina Porat, the Center’s Founding Head, and Dr. Tomer Fadlon, spoke briefly about their respective articles, highlighting political and legislative developments and developments in the world of sports in fighting antisemitism and radicalization. In addition, Dr. Carl Yonker, the Center’s Media Director, commented on the recent hostage crisis at the Colleyville synagogue in Texas and the need to encourage local Christian communities to more proactively engage with local Jewish communities to provide better support and create a sense of security.
In his closing remarks, President Herzog expressed his appreciation for the report and observed that while the crisis of global antisemitism is intensifying, so, too, are international efforts to fight against it. Indeed, stated President Herzog, “We are witnessing many initiatives for combating antisemitism around the world, and we must encourage and foster these positive trends. Strengthening the light is just as important as fighting darkness. I thank the Center for its dedicated research and faithful work in monitoring antisemitism worldwide.”
President Herzog also added, “I wish you much luck and I want to thank Tel Aviv University and the Center within it. I am an alumnus of the University, a friend of the University, and I think it’s a very worthy place. [The Center] is one of the most important Centers in Israeli academia and at TAU specifically.”