Battling Anti-Semitism: What Will Success Look Like?

Posted by Hannah Rosenthal
July 22, 2010

About the Author: Hannah Rosenthal serves as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism

On July 13, Secretary Clinton and I attended a ceremony in honor of the Jewish community. More than 200 people attended the reception, including Members of Congress and representatives of prominent American Jewish organizations. I am so proud that my incredible daughters, Shira and Francie, and other members of my family were able to attend. I am also grateful to Secretary Clinton, who has been my close friend for over twenty years. When I was diagnosed with cancer, the last phone call I received before surgery was from Secretary Clinton, wishing me speedy recovery. She is truly a mensch.

In my speech, I spoke about how lucky I am to have the opportunity to travel the world and make an effort to improve people's lives. This job has me building relationships with foreign leaders, cooperating with non-profits, and working with dedicated individuals at the State Department who are attempting to advance human rights, democracy, and world peace. Unfortunately, I have also witnessed some disturbing trends. Traditional forms of anti-Semitism, such as accusations that Jews control the media and the belief in blood libels, still persist. Newer forms of anti-Semitism are also on the rise. Some heads of state and religious leaders engage in Holocaust denial, relativism, or glorification. Expressions of anti-Israel sentiments on political issues often cross over into outright anti-Semitism.

Defining success in combating anti-Semitism can be a difficult task. For me, success will be measured in how many other people condemn anti-Semitism. It will be building coalitions and engaging interfaith and inter-ethnic groups to recognize and condemn anti-Semitism, and demanding that NGO's, media, and national leaders do the same. It will be finding groups around the world who advance acceptance and tolerance. People everywhere must realize that anti-Semitism is not only a Jewish problem, but a problem for all of humanity.

In her speech, Secretary Clinton spoke about her and President Obama's determination to curb anti-Semitism around the world and prevent the isolation of Israel internationally. She called on active members of Jewish and other civic organizations to help support this mission. With their leadership, and with the help of all Americans, we will make a difference.

We also must remember that Jews are not alone in facing hatred. Christians, Muslims, Baha'is, Roma, and other groups have all experienced discrimination and abuse, borne out of fear and ignorance.

Hate is hate, and it is up to everyone to work together to confront it, combat it, and eradicate it. Toward that end next month I will accompany a group of American Muslim imams to Auschwitz. I look forward to continue working to advance understanding and tolerance between faiths.

Read Secretary Clinton's remarks here.

Read Special Envoy Rosenthal's remarks here.



July 23, 2010

Alex in Spain writes:

Excellent points from Hannah Rosenthal about the dangers of hate and the need for all to fight against it. However I was disappointed to see her ""

Susan C.
Florida, USA
July 23, 2010

Susan C. in Florida writes:

Please count me as one of "those" who condemns anti-Semitism. I have stated, very often, on this blog about the rising threat of anti-Semitism. I have been very disturbed by what I have heard and read. The condemning of Israel, the blaming of "Jews", the denial of the Holocaust, all of this is very frightening. It is good to know that we are speaking up and that we are not ignoring this growing problem. To be honest, I was beginning to wonder. My thoughts go with you on your "mission".

New Mexico, USA
July 24, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Susan,

I'm with you on this one, with the added opperative dimention here that the folks engaged in intolerance in this specific aspect, also engage in oppression of the Bahai, Shiite, Suni, Cristian, and just about everyone else of any faith not to their liking, or lined up with their manifesto.

And if you agree Aminidijad is their spokesman, do we then form "Infidels R US inc." in response? I'll buy stock in that.

'cause America is the "great Satan" right...and let's see, last I checked the demography of the US was a meltingpot of all the world's, if my logic stands up to scutiny here...I don't think he's actually singling Jews out, though they may serve as object of his focus at times, just like everyone in the US.

It's not a US vs Iran thing, it's not an Israel vs. Iran thing, it's not even and Arab and Jew thing, as such...the only ones who do not reconize Israel's rights to exist, are the same folks that don't recongnize Muslim's rights to exist either. Al-Quaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, Taliban...

Now this is not to say that there arn't good reasons to question certain Israeli policies,

And the flip side is that I've seen this used to stifle legitimate crisism, in those that may question their policies as being "anti-semetic".

So, do we then take this and the "conversation with the Muslim community" State is having and combine the both to resolve both issues among all concerned?

This is what you were asking for on that thread , no?

Question; How does State have a dialogue that focuses on the issues without offending anyone or have anyone feel left out of it, or get accused of being partial in their treatment of religious concerns among members of various communities?

I see the dilemma here in doing everything folks can to give all these human rights issues, religios outreach and everything associated equal time and treatment on this blog, and yet it seems to invoke more division than it brings understanding sometimes.

Folks are very partial and protective of their biases...and that's not going to change I guess.

Should I be lobbying Dipnote for a "conversation with Buddhist comminities"?

Or an "anti- Buddhist" policy to combat what is being done in Tibet to erase an entire culture?

I'm Rinsai - but this makes no difference, as we might only qualify in the footnotes.

Where do you folks at State find the balance?

I hate to even use the word "cookie-cutter" because that's exactly what I'm not suggesting...

But there might be a more comprehensive way to go about addressing religious descrimination by getting everyone together on the same level playing field at once.

It's like getting Afghanistan and Pakistan to have better relations and India and Iran objecting, or we having a nuclear agreement with India and Pakistan says, "What about us?"

I said what I said about "US and Them" on that other thread to address just these sorts of issues. Boiling it down to something so basic religion no longer really factored into the definition of terrorism.

And isn't that what religious intolerance supports generally?

So how else then do we move these issues into the dustbin of history unless it becomes clear to everyone what the deal is, and has been for a long time?

"Inspire not men with fear, else Ptah will fight against you in the same manner. If any one asserts that he lives by such means, Ptah will take away the bread from his mouth; if any one asserts that he enriches himself thereby, Ptah says: I may take those riches to myself. If any one asserts that he beats others, Ptah will end by reducing him to impotence. Let no one inspire men with fear; this is the will of Ptah. Let one provide sustenance for them in the lap of peace; it will then be that they will freely give what has been torn from them by terror."
-Ptah Hotep 2200BCE

I think any Foreign Service Officer that would read the entire text posted would find a lot of corrolary in the treatment of diplomatic principles contained within the text and the Foreign Service Officer manual, of this and every other nation that has rule of law to carry a diplomatic dialogue forth with.

I wonder what would happen if you had a "conversation with America" about this old text and why it may be relevant to the solutions folks are seeking.

And invite the world.

Maybe this "tool for a teachable moment" would take the "Cairo" speech to the next level, and I know just the fellow to do that, since it really is his follow-up if he chooses to get to the root of the problem and get folks to walk a path of peace with heart.

It's kind of like a very old "State of the union" address in some ways...

Building blocks of civilization put down in "good sayings" is what it is.

July 24, 2010

Alex in Spain writes:

Excellent posting by Hannah Rosenthal which highlights the need for all to work together to combat anti-Semitism. I am very glad for the work that she does. I was particularly inspired by her point that anti-Semitism is a problem not just for Jewry but for humanity as a whole.

However I was disappointed by the reference to Secretary Clinton's disingenuous attempt to draw a direct link between racial discrimination and increasing international isolation of the State of Israel, quoted as follows:

“President Obama and I are determined to curb anti-Semitism and to work to prevent the isolation of Israel internationally.”

While I would expect a politician to manipulate language in an attempt to link separate issues, Ms Rosenthal made a decision to include a superfluous political dimension within her piece which significantly undermines the impact of the myriad other pertinent points she raises.

It is the sole prerogative of any nation-state to take responsibility for her own international standing through domestic policymaking and international diplomacy. Unlike many countries facing isolation, Israel is governed by legitimate democratic consent. Therefore Israeli voters have a direct influence on their country's international standing.

This is not a matter for anti-discrimination interests to take on as part of their struggle – international isolation of a nation-state is quite a separate and distinct matter from the issue of racial discrimination. Attempts to link the two neither bolster Israel's international position nor contribute effectively to the fight against anti-Semitism.

New Mexico, USA
July 25, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Crouded market, bomb goes off, the folks with courage and empathy tend the wounded, another bomb targets them...

Terrorists studied croud psycology to target the very best of us, to target those of empathy itself.

Make no mistake it is intended to replace it with none at all. It's not in the hate. It's in the not caring. That's a little different.

And it works.

The diciplined mind can hold on to preserve empathy within... for the time it takes to disregard having it... to fight those without it... without any handicap, or softness.

No hate in it.

And then return from the battlefield to rekindle empathy among the many. Whether that war be opon the Earth, or among minds.

And folks wonder what the Marshall Plan was all about??

There's a living example.

I haven't seen too many German or Japanese terrorists since then.

Someone was doing something really right in getting the message out.

United States
July 27, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

Eric wrote, "and then return from the battlefield to rekindle empathy..." No Eric! No!
No! No! How about not going into the battlefied in the first place?

New Mexico, USA
July 27, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Little too late for that OC, if I recall history corectly there's only been some 50 years of uninterupted peace in the last 2000 years, or something close to that.

Every world war we've gotten into was either because we were attacked out of the blue or our friends were.

I would much rather see folks all getting along OC, but when have they ever?

I think a lot of your objections stems from wishing reality wasn't so.

I not only understand your angst, I share it.

But I still have to see things for what they are, not as I'd wish them to be.

The art of war is all about winning the peace, if you don't understand this you'll never understand me or why I say these things..

We have a chance here to change 200,000 years of human dysfunctionality that has lead to the rise and fall of civilization many times over, and this one's at risk of repeating the vicious cycle unless we look at things, and see conflict for what it is.

Sane vs. insane.

See, the insane arn't giving the sane a whole lot of choice here but to win this battle, and we better have a correct approach to winning, or fail to do so.

Your peace is every bit at risk from terrorists as much as mine is, along with about 7 billion other people's.

I figure the sane need to get busy and put a stop to it.

Then perhaps humanity can do away with fields of battle and cultivate fields of wheat etc. to feed the world.

United States
July 28, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

When did Bosnia attack the USA out of the blue? When did Panama attack the USA out of the blue? When did Iraq attack the USA out of the blue? When did Vietnam attack the USA out of the blue? When did Korea attack the USA out of the blue? When, Eric? Pray tell?

New Mexico, USA
July 28, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I was specific about World wars we've gotten into. Either we were attacked or our treaty obligations pulled us into those conflicts, as in WW1.

There's reasons folks take the kinetic rout to solve issues OC...

But that's not the topic of this thread.

WW1, WW2, and the global war on terror, stopping genocide in the Balkans, removing Saddam, some times it is as simple as realizing it is a mistake to leave a dictator in power to have to get the job done right a decade later.

The paradox you run into in being opposed to war, is bearing responsibility for those who commit genocide and crimes against humanity by leaving them alive to continue their work, rather than taking the action needed to stop them.

If you were to ask me why this seems to allways fall on the US to deal with, then just take a look at the AU's handwringing over serving the ICC arrest warrant on Bashir.

The thing about "cowboy diplomacy" is that beyond mending fences and leading the heard to greener pastures, outlaws exist and posse's get formed from among the willing to deal with them.

Success is fully dependant on the strength and temperament of the horse ridden.

What are you going to do when "lil Kim, Aminidijad, Bin Laden, and Mullah Omar are the modern equivalent of the four horsemen of the appocalypse?

I suppose you think we should simply let them run roughshod over civilization eh?

Or maybe you want peace, but arn't willing to do the hard thing that it takes to create it?

Well then, that's your decision.

Fortunately you arn't making the decisions for the rest of us.

Dan B.
Florida, USA
August 6, 2010

Dan B. in Florida writes:

Please be careful to distinguish between anti-Semitism and legitimate criticism of the government of Israel. The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has many Jewish activists. Not every criticism of Israel must be accompanied by and equal criticism of all the Arab countries. Americans have a right to look closely at Israel for at least two reasons - one is that American taxpayers have subsidized its economy to the tune of over $100 Billion in the last 40 years and secondly one of Judaism's central premise is justice and a hand of helping for "the other." Israel is not singled out, nor is that a valid defense - namely that other countries do bad things or worse things.

abu a.
August 15, 2010

Abu A. in Jordan writes:

The reasons for Arab-Israeli conflict is the occupation of Palestine.

Palestine Arab Islamic state like the rest of the Arab and Islamic states surrounding Them. Means that there are Jews and Zionists in Palestine a big mistake, because this entity Zionist is not consistent with the surrounding area (such as language, customs, traditions and religion) The only solution to end the Arab-Israeli conflict is the expulsion of Jews from Palestine All of Palestine.

The Jewish people will not rest and will not feel comfortable and stability But if it gets out of Palestine and the Middle East completely. If people continue to Jews in Palestine and the Middle East, the death and destruction will continue. Palestine Arab Islamic state and will remain


Latest Stories

October 12, 2010

Travel Diary: En Route Sarajevo

Writing for the U.S. Department of State DipNote blog, DipNote Bloggers highlight the background briefing of U.S. Secretary of State… more
October 11, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

Writing for the U.S. Department of State DipNote blog, Canadian Public Affairs Specialist at U.S. Embassy Ottawa Jennifer McCabe wishes… more