By Stephen E. Lipken
Congregation Sons of Israel (CSI), Briarcliff Manor, in conjunction with Pleasantville Community Synagogue (PCS) hosted a presentation by President Barack Obama’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Global Anti-Semitism Ira Forman, Secretary’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs (SRGA), Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, September 7.
Over 250 audience members from the County filled nearly every seat. The program was sponsored by American Jewish Committee (AJC) Westchester/’Fairfield.
Introduced by PCS Rabbi Dr. Julie Danan, PhD., who with her daughter Liora, SRGA Chief of Staff, contacted AJC Director Scott Richman, recruiting AJC to sponsor the program, Forman began, “One of our most important allies is the Catholic Church, especially the Pope.
“There are different types of anti-Semitism…The first thing I hear is that this is the 1930’s all over again… I don’t think so…Jewish communities, small vulnerable ones in Europe particularly may not be viable if present trends continue. Anti-Semitism is driving people to 1) emigrate and 2) assimilate...
“Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union conducted a survey in 2012. They asked 8 Jewish communities in EU representing 90% of Europe’s Jews how Anti-Semitism was affecting their lives.
“They were asked, ‘Have you thought about emigrating over the last five years because of Anti-Semitism?’ In Hungary the number was 48%; France, 46%. In Hungary you have the xenophobic extreme right wing, neo-Nazi Anti-Semitic Jobbik party; Greece, Golden Dawn. Both have significant parliamentary representation. Both have street militias.
“The militias attack migrants and in Hungary, Roma (Gypsies)—not the Jews yet. In France there are multiple forms of Anti-Semitism, the xenophobic right wing; left wing and Anti-Semitism associated with Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We are trying to get a working multilateral definition of Anti-Semitism including the 3D’s: 1) Demonizing Israel; i.e. they treat Palestinians like the Nazis; 2) De-legitimatizing, Israel has no right to exist; 3) Double Standard,” Forman concluded.
“The speaker was excellent,” AJC Westchester/Fairfield President Beverly Rosenbaum noted.
“He pointed out that most people in the audience weren’t aware of the fact that an Office like this existed in the State Department. It is inspiring and heartwarming to know that…our government is engaged in this important area...”