Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told his cabinet Sunday that he has made fighting anti-Semitism a major concern of his government in the wake of a two-day forum in Jerusalem designed to develop a global initiative to deal with the problem.
"The prime minister said that until now it had a low profile [in Israel]," said Natan Sharansky, who as minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs organized the forum. "In Israel, anti-Semitism was seen as a diaspora problem. Now it is understood that that has to be changed."
The forum took note of the "emergence of a new, virulent form of global anti-Semitism: gross political and diplomatic discrimination against the State of Israel."
And the gathering concluded "that the singling out of Israel for extreme condemnation … constitutes an existential assault upon the Jewish people and the legitimacy of the State of Israel."
In a phone interview, Sharansky told The Jewish Week that the forum, attended by Jewish representatives from throughout the world, would reconvene in six months. He said working groups would be formed to prepare for that session and develop strategies for dealing with anti-Semitism in different arenas, such as the United Nations.
Reflecting on the world conference on racism in Durban, South Africa, two years ago that was turned into an anti-Israel and anti-Jewish attack, Sharansky said "it was a failure on our side that our enemies had a strategy. Now we want to see the calendar years ahead to strategically concentrate our efforts."