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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Coronavirus, Conspiracies, and Israelophobia: A National Security Challenge?


On April 23, 2020, the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs held a roundtable discussion with leading thinkers and writers on “Israelophobia” and the hijacking of civil discourse.

Read the report: Israelophobia and the West: The Hijacking of Civil Discourse on Israel and How to Rescue It

Watch the highlights below:

The Coronavirus Conspiracy

Dan Diker

Director of the Project on Political Warfare at the Jerusalem Center and former secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress

The coronavirus conspiracy against Israel underlies the intensifying Israelophobia phenomenon that intersects with classic anti-Semitism. It’s important that we insist upon the principles of legitimate, civil political discourse on Israel.

In the Age of the Coronavirus, Classic Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israel Rhetoric Parallel Each Other

Tzahi Gavrieli

Director, National Task Force for Countering Delegitimization, Ministry of Strategic Affairs

Tzahi Gavrieli demonstrates how, in the age of the coronavirus, classic anti-Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric parallel each other.

Fighting Anti-Semitism from the Left and from the Right

Natan Sharansky

Chair of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy, and former Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel

Natan Sharansky, discusses the historical parallels and patterns of anti-Semitism and Israelophobia.

Fighting Anti-Semitism by Reaching Out with Diplomacy to Countries in Need

Amb. Dore Gold

President, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; Former Director General, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

When I served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we saw a parallel phenomenon to what’s happening now with the coronavirus, when Ebola started becoming a real threat in West Africa. Israel actively fought Ebola, and Africa became more aware of Israel’s positive role.  Part of the strategy of fighting the new anti-Semitism  is finding allies in the developing world. They can become the greatest spokesmen for Israel.

Fighting the New Anti-Semitism with Awareness and Education

Elan Carr

U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combatting Anti-Semitism

The new anti-Semitism, which focuses on Zionism and the State of Israel, is really not new at all. It is old, classic Jew hatred, simply adjusted for modern circumstances.

The Pandemic will Worsen the Pre-existing  Anti-Semitism in the United States

Malcolm Hoenlein

Executive Vice Chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

During the coronavirus crisis, classic anti-Semitism merges with anti-Israel hatred. During economic crises, anti-Semitism tends to rise, and we can expect this after the pandemic. Jewish institutions will also have fewer resources with which to confront  this challenge. We must build coalitions and use the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism to protect Jews.

Scapegoating Israel in the Age of Coronavirus

Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Yossi Kuperwasser

Former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Division and director-general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry

Israel is making great efforts to ensure Palestinians are not hit by the coronavirus, and has been praised by the international community for its efforts. Unfortunately, this doesn’t interest promoters of anti-Semitism in BDS Zoom webinars, who advocate for muqawama, or struggle, against the existence of Israel.  We cannot allow the Palestinians to get away with this rhetorical anti-Semitism.  The Palestinian Authority praises terrorists that kill Jews as heroes and martyrs. This must be called out by the international community.

The Anti-Israel Movement’s Distortion and Misuse of International Legal Terms of Art

Amb. Alan Baker

Former Legal Advisor, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and former Ambassador to Canada

There is a serious manipulation of the international community, both by organizations and the media, through the repeated use of catchphrases and buzzwords, taken out of context and sourced from terms of   international humanitarian law, as stereotypes, in order to vilify, cause the demise of, and dehumanize the State of Israel. From there we are very quickly directed onto the short road towards anti-Semitism.

Using ‘the Occupation’ as a Vector of Anti-Semitism

Fiamma Nirenstein

Journalist and author. Former vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Italian Chamber of Deputies

Nobody in the civilized world – not Macron, Merkel, the EU, or the UN – would accept a classically anti-Semitic point of view, such as saying that Jews spread the coronavirus. Yet, the “civilized” way of expressing this idea has become blaming the “occupation” for Palestinian problems. This assumes that Israel locks down Palestinians in their homes, which is untrue, and falsely asserts that the PA lacks its own government structures, including hospitals and a health system. Israel is blamed, even when, in reality, the Palestinians possess all the funds and wherewithal to accomplish this.

Fighting the Apartheid Myth and Improving Israel-Africa Relations

Olga Meshoe Washington

Adv., South Africa Director, DEISI International (Defend Embrace Invest(in) Support Israel)

Africa is Israel’s most strategic ally, and not only from a political perspective, from voting in the United Nations, to voting in the AU.

Clearing Israel’s Historical Record

Luba Mayekiso

Adv., Director, Africa for Israel

Anti-Semitism against Israel, using the false accusation of apartheid, manipulates historical facts.  BDS, now calling  itself Africa for Palestine, has done well at repeating a lie and inflating it, in order to gain traction over the course of time. The narrative has become more appealing because they’ve moved away from dealing with history and reality, saying, “this is about human rights, this is about justice,” and for many people that resonates.

The Truth is the Best Weapon in the Fight against Israelophobia

Joshua Washington

Director, Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel

The bubonic plague quickly turned into blaming the Jews, and during the coronavirus, we definitely see that happening again. Oftentimes, the reason why so many black Americans feel emboldened in their anti-Israel, anti-Semitic stances is because they feel that they have history on their side. They honestly don’t know anything about black American Zionism in history, besides maybe a couple of quotes from Martin Luther King.

Key people speak out of ignorance and false information, and we have to combat that with the truth.   

Elan Carr answers questions on international diplomacy and the fight against anti-Semitism.

Anti-Semitism is the greatest barometer of human suffering.

Malcolm Hoenlein talks about the role of pro-Israel organizations

Resilience is our middle name.