JERUSALEM — Israel’s justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, on Wednesday slammed European leaders who criticize Israel and advocates of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the country, accusing them of simply swapping old anti-Semitic tropes for a new format.
“In the past, we saw European leaders speaking against the Jews. Now, we see them speaking against Israel. It is the same anti-Semitism of blood libels, spreading lies, distorting reality and brainwashing people into hating Israel and the Jews,” Shaked said in an interview with The Washington Post.
She said supporters of movements such as BDS, which, according to its website, calls for putting economic and political pressure on Israel in a bid to force it to comply with international law and gain rights for Palestinians, are “using the same kind of anti-Semitism but instead of saying they are against the Jews, they say they are against Israel.”
Earlier in the day, Shaked spoke at an international symposium in Krakow, Poland marking the 80th anniversary of the Nuremberg Race Laws adopted by Nazi Germany and 70 years since the Nuremberg trials that prosecuted Nazi war criminals.
Nazi Germany’s implementation of the racist laws served as a prologue to the Holocaust in which 6 million Jews were systematically murdered across Europe. A decade later, the Nuremberg trials underpinned contemporary international humanitarian law.
On Thursday morning, sirens will sound across Israel, and Israelis will hold a minute of silence to remember those who were killed and to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Speaking to an audience of international jurors, legal scholars and political leaders in Krakow, the Israeli minister, a member of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party, questioned whether Europe had really learned any lessons from the Holocaust.
“We can still witness anti-Semitism today. In fact, the anti-Semitic voices seem to get louder and stronger still,” she said. “We witness anti-Semitic attacks in the heart of Europe. We hear anti-Semitic slanders in European media. We feel anti-Semitic hatred in the continent that should have learned the lesson.”
Shaked highlighted comments made in recent weeks by members of Britain’s Labour Party claiming Hitler was a Zionist and previous remarks by a lawmaker that Israel’s population should be “transported” out of the Middle East to America.
“Today, it is not politically correct to be anti-Semitic but being anti-Israeli is acceptable,” Shaked said. “People who have such anti-Semitic views should not be allowed to hold central leadership positions.”
The Labour Party has since suspended the offending councilors, but the comments have sparked fierce debates about anti-Semitism in Britain and look to be set to affect local elections taking place there Thursday.
A study into anti-Semitism by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry that was published Wednesday noted that although violent anti-Semitic incidents worldwide decreased in 2015 compared with previous years, Europe’s Jews are growing increasingly concerned about their future.
The research noted that “the number of verbal and visual anti-Semitic expressions, mainly on social media, turned more threatening and insulting” and that anti-Semitic language against Israel as a Jewish state often infiltrates the mainstream.
In Europe, researchers found that Jewish communities and individuals feel threatened by the radicalization of Muslim citizens and the influx of refugees. There are also concerns that the mass migration will strengthen right-wing nationalist parties.