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Former prisoner of Zion Sharansky and NYC mayor headline forum against anti-Semitism

Speakers call for new methods to address an old problem

Natan Sharansky speaking at the New York Symposium Against Antisemitism, hosted by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (Photo: CAM/Twitter)

A former Israeli Knesset Member and Soviet dissident, Natan Sharansky, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams were two of the notable speakers at an anti-Semitism symposium in Manhattan on Tuesday.

The New York Symposium Against Antisemitism, hosted by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), brought together Jewish and non-Jewish leaders from 55 different global organizations to discuss the problematic rise in worldwide anti-Semitism.

During his speech, Adams said many of the current anti-Semitism programs are being hampered by older methods.

“We are using antiquated methods to dismantle a modern-day crisis,” Adams said. “If our methods are to merely sit in a sterilized environment of a room like this, with those of us who are all part of the same choir, that is not how you’re going to end antisemitism. The problem is not in this room, the problem is out there.”

Adams was especially critical of the role of social media in spreading anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish rhetoric, claiming that “Young people are being fed hate every day.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (center left) and Natan Sharansky (center right) at the New York Symposium Against Antisemitism, hosted by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (Photo: CAM/Twitter)

The city mayor suggested taking legal action against social media companies to stop the spread of anti-Semitic content.

“Some of our greatest legal minds need to come together and sue the social media companies that are destroying our communities and our cities and feeding our children the hate and despair they’re witnessing,” Adams told the symposium.

Former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister, Sharansky, a Gulag prison survivor and prisoner of Zion, spoke about the growing phenomenon of anti-Semitism on university campuses.

“The most important beachhead in the struggle for the future of the Jewish people are on our campuses,” Sharansky said, noting that the problem is across the political spectrum.

“And today, of course, antisemitism has gotten so big, there is a rise on the left, the right, in the Islamist community, and elsewhere.”

Sharansky warned that political bickering will not solve the problem.

“Some rabbis in their synagogues are afraid to speak about this phenomenon, because it has become very political, on the left and the right. One says, ’The real antisemitism is on the left.’ The other says, ’The real antisemitism is on the right.’ Or the real antisemites are Antifa, or the Proud Boys.”

The former minister reminded the forum participants that anti-Semitism has been an almost universal experience for the Jewish people.

“Antisemitism for thousands of years was always uniting our people, religious or nonreligious. Whether in Paris or Kiev, it didn’t matter,” he said.

According to Sharansky, the political right and left groups must police their own groups.

“People on the left have to fight antisemitism on the left, and people on the right have to fight antisemitism on the right," he stated.

Former U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Elan Carr also addressed the meeting , saying that CAM’s strategy, which focuses on finding unity between different groups around the issue of anti-Semitism, was important to its successes.

Carr highlighted the organization’s success in getting the state of Virginia to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism.

“Together we crafted a plan for passing IHRA in a state where passing IHRA was very, very contentious, in part for political reasons,” said Carr. “It was only because of the united front that we presented that IHRA sailed past both houses of the General Assembly in Virginia, including unanimously in the senate.”

The White House is expected to release its anti-Semitism strategy in the coming days. Many Jewish leaders and groups working to fight anti-Semitism have called on the White House to adopt the IHRA Working Definition.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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