At least 45 world leaders have responded to a summons to attend the World Holocaust Forum in Israel to “fight antisemitism.” The event is organized by a Russian-Israeli oligarch who considers support for Palestinian human rights “antisemitic.” He is promoting an Orwellian program that would criminalize “intolerance” and require re-education programs for anyone who strays beyond accepted views…
By Alison Weir
In an astounding gathering, at least 45 presidents, kings, premiers, and world leaders have gathered in Israel to pay obeisance to the Jewish State and “fight antisemitism.” Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper calls it “an airlift of presidents, prime ministers and royalty from around the world.”
In the midst of the impeachment proceedings, US Vice President Mike Pence and Congressional leader Nancy Pelosi have flown to Israel to pay tribute. (The US gives Israel over $10 million per day.)
The opulent two-day event is entitled “Remembering the Holocaust: Fighting Antisemitism.” The presidents and kings have gathered in response to a summons to commemorate The Holocaust – a catastrophic event that ended 75 years ago through the deaths of thousands’ of their countries’ soldiers – and to “fight antisemitism.”
It is unlikely that any will mention the current and ongoing genocidal program against Palestinians, or that the alleged “antisemitism” they are fighting often consists of support for Palestinian human rights. It is also doubtful that the millions of non-Jews who died during The Holocaust will play much of a role in the festivities.
The event is the brain child of Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor, a Russian-Israeli oligarch known for “unscrupulous business dealings” who made his money during the massive plunder of Russian resources that left many ordinary Russian citizens in misery. Kantor is the president of the European Jewish Congress and multiple other international entities. This is his fifth Holocaust Forum.
Kantor is a Russian-Israeli billionaire dedicated to Israel. He has stated that the creation of the State of Israel is the “biggest achievement” of Diaspora Jewry, and believes that all Jews must work to “strengthen our beloved state.” (The following is excerpted from a previous article article I wrote on the topic.)
In 2008 Kantor enunciated his core belief: “The reality of today requires that European Jews care not only about the preservation and security of Israel, but also the way it is treated by the rest of the world. This must be the leading priority of the European Diaspora.”
Kantor heads up and sometimes even originated, a network of pro-Israel international entities.
In addition to being president of the European Jewish Congress, he is founder and president of the World Holocaust Forum Foundation, founder and chairman of the European Jewish Fund, originator and president of the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe, co-founder and president of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, vice president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, a member of the International Board of Hillel, and the former president of the Russian Jewish Congress, to name just some of his affiliations.
His ability to accomplish all this stems from his enormous wealth. In addition to being an “international philanthropist,” as he identifies himself, Kantor is an international businessman with $4 billion at his disposal. He has been accused of unscrupulous business dealings and financial fraud.
Like other Russian oligarchs, Kantor made his fortune in the first years of Russia’s “new capitalism”– sometimes called “gangster capitalism” – when, under the guise of “privatization,” Russia’s economy was massively looted, causing ruin to many Russian citizens who saw their life savings vanish, sometimes in a matter of weeks. Kantor’s father, a former Red Army soldier, reportedly served prison time for “speculation and embezzlement of state property in a large scale, taking bribes and forgery.” Kantor was among the many individuals in the Russian Jewish community who flourished; many – perhaps most – of the Russian oligarchs have ties to Israel.
Kantor is known for a variety of international activities. Along with notorious oligarch Boris Berezovsky, Kantor is said to have been a “sponsor of the ‘Orange Revolution’ in Ukraine in 2005, which led to the cancellation of the initial results of the presidential election.” Berezovsky later bragged that he had funded the revolution. In 2006 Kantor received an award from Ukraine’s new president for “distinguished services” to the country.
Stamping out ‘Antisemitism’ and ‘Intolerance’
Kantor has been involved in a global campaign to embed a new, Israel-centric definition of antisemitism in European governments and institutions. The EJC says that the definition of anti-Semitism must be “clarified” because “the new form of anti-Semitism” supposedly “emanates from pro-Palestinians.” EJC is the regional affiliate of the World Jewish Congress, one of whose main missions is to advocate for Israel.
Kantor says that BDS, the international boycott of Israel over its violent human rights abuses, is “antisemitic.” (BDS works to “uphold the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.”) According to Kantor, “Anti-Zionism [opposition to Israel’s systemic discrimination and violence] is almost always just a mask for hatred of Jews and Jewish collectivity and is just the most modern manifestation of the oldest hatred.”
Thus, the opposition of Kantor and his organizations to “antisemitism” often consists of censoring information that exposes Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.
Kantor advocates that governments punish antisemites as harshly as they punish terrorists. He has been working to convince European governments to adopt a bizarre 13-page program of “concrete and enforceable obligations that ensure tolerance and stamp out intolerance.”
The Orwellian program, entitled “National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance” (revised version here), would restrict freedom of expression, impose re-education programs, enact surveillance structures, and institute criminal penalties for “antisemitism” and other “intolerance.” Expressing views specified as impermissible would be “regarded as criminal offenses punishable as aggravated crimes.”
The document proposes a deeply authoritarian structure controlling multiple aspects of society to coerce “tolerance,” and anyone who doesn’t get with the program would be taken care of, e.g. “Juveniles convicted of committing crimes listed in paragraph (a) will be required to undergo a rehabilitation programme conducive to a culture of tolerance.” Big Brother in the form of a “National Tolerance Monitoring Commission” would ensure that no one says or does anything that the Commission determines is “intolerant.”
The program is being promoted by Kantor’s “European Center for Tolerance and Reconciliation” (ECTR), and may be on the way to becoming a reality. Kantor has secured former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as the ECTR Chairman and French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy as a member.
According to its website ECTR has formed a joint task force with the European Council to work on implementing the program throughout Europe. The European Council, composed of the heads of state or government of the 28 EU member states, defines the EU’s overall political direction and priorities.
Kantor recently said that antisemitism is now a “global pandemic” and that the “crisis of antisemitism is a slippery slope to global catastrophe.” He warns that Jews could “disappear completely as a people from Europe,” and raises the alarm about what he describes as “mass killing at synagogues.”
These terrifying attacks reportedly killed a combined total of 14 Jews.
News reports on the alleged perpetrators of the assaults, who were of diverse races, indicate a variety of motivations. One attacker said he had been inspired by a 2019 assault on two New Zealand mosques that had killed 51 Muslims.
Previous fatal shootings have also occurred at other religious sites. The largest number of fatalities in the US may have been at a Christian church, where 26 worshipers were killed in 2017.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces have killed almost 10,000 Palestinian men, women, and children since 2000 and injured tens of thousands; Palestinian resistance forces have killed approximately 1,200 Israelis (details here).
Such disproportion is not new.
Twenty-five years ago, an Israeli author wrote: “In the last 40 years the number of non-Jews killed by Jews is by far greater than the number of the Jews killed by non-Jews.”
Many Jews around the world, including in Israel itself, have long strenuously opposed Israeli violence. According to Kantor and his cohort, these individuals are also “antisemitic.”
Fifth World Holocaust Forum
The new campaign comes just before the Fifth World Holocaust Forum to be held in Israel tomorrow, January 23rd, co-sponsored by the president of Israel. The forums are another one of Kantor’s many projects.
Over 45 heads of state and world leaders have said they plan to attend the event, including the presidents of France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Russia, the kings of Spain and Belgium, and Britain’s Prince Charles. Vice-president Mike Pence and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, will also attend. [Her Congressional delegation includes Eliot Engel (D-NY), Debbie Wasserman Schulz (D-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Joe Wilson (R-SC).
The event is being held at Yad Vashem, Israel’s holocaust complex, a vast, sprawling institution with dozens of Israeli flags and tree-studded walkways leading to exhibits, archives, monuments, sculptures, and memorials.
The event website proclaims that the Holocaust is “the most horrific tragedy in human history” and states that “a new wave of antisemitism unseen since World War II poses an existential threat to European Jewry.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, among the forum’s features will be speeches by select heads of state, a Holocaust survivor, video clips, and “musical interludes performed by an orchestra and an international choir.” The event will be live streamed and conclude with the Israeli national anthem.
Yad Vashem is in Jerusalem where there is evidence all around – for any with eyes to see – of another genocidal program, one that has been going on since the one commemorated by Yad Vashem ended. An historian calls this one the “Palestinian holocaust” and describes it: a land was “occupied, emptied of its people, its physical and cultural landmarks obliterated, its destruction hailed as a miraculous act of God, all done according to a premeditated plan, meticulously executed, internationally supported, and still maintained today…”
On April 9, 1948 Zionist forces systematically exterminated 110 men, women, and children as part of a plan to rid Palestine of its Muslim and Christian population in order to make way for the Jewish state. This was one of 16 such Zionist massacres that took place before the official start of Israel’s founding war of ethnic cleansing, and over a month before a single Arab Army joined the conflict. In contrast to Yad Vashem’s monuments and memorials, Deir Yassin has no marker.
More recent evidence of the ongoing oppression can be found in the Issawiya neighborhood of Jerusalem, where heavily armed Israeli police have raided over 500 Palestinian homes and arrested more than 700 residents since May, apprehending children as young as five. Israeli forces shot dead a 21-year-old at close range and have injured over 300 people of all ages. Soldiers beat and humiliate residents at will. One resident says the area “has turned into a ghetto.” (Another such ghetto is Gaza, where Israeli forces yesterday killed three young men.
Not far from Issawiyah is Israel’s mammoth apartheid wall, confiscating additional Palestinian land and helping to imprison over two million people. In 2002 Israeli media reported that Israeli generals were studying how the German army fought in the Warsaw ghetto for use in Israel’s next campaign against Palestinians.
The Holocaust Forum program states that the world leaders “will be invited to lay a wreath at the base of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument created by world-renowned Jewish sculptor and artist Nathan Rappaport.”
Perhaps some of the world leaders could also visit the unmarked site of Deir Yassin, and lay a wreath on one of its crumbling graves. And then go to Israel’s wall and echo a famous demand from a previous head of state: “Tear down this wall.”
And maybe a future social media campaign could focus on ending all genocides, injustice, and oppression.
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Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.
A live stream of today’s event is here:
* In an interview with the Jerusalem Post during the event, Kantor said that antisemitism in the US was his highest concern. He said he was particularly worried about “antisemitism” in the US because, he said, the majority of antisemitic incidents there take place on college campuses.
* The vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Amanda Bowman, demanded an apology after BBC’s Orlan Guerin included a brief mention of Israel’s militarism during her report on the event. Gideon Falter, chief executive of the group Campaign Against Antisemitism, says he also plans to make an official complaint. The BBC says it stands by Guerin. Below is the clip:
How is Our Holocaust Different From All Other Holocausts? (A Yad Vashem tour guide was fired when he told visitors about Deir Yassin