US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman has said that a “new antisemitism”, characterised by “the irrational, deceitful and insidious vilification of Israel and its supporters under the guise of political commentary” worries him far more than the “old” antisemitism.
The comments came during a speech in which the Ambassador revealed he had been called “son of a dog” by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas earlier this week.
Mr Friedman, speaking at the opening of the 6th Global Forum on Combating Antisemitism, told the audience that “combating” antisemitism is “the right verb.”
“Usually when we speak about efforts to end a disease—and make no mistake about it, antisemitism is a disease, it is a virulent disease—we speak about eradicating it,” he said. “But we don’t speak about eradicating antisemitism and I think that’s probably the right approach. Eradication is probably a bridge too far.”
Friedman, however, sought to differentiate between what he called the “old” antisemitism and the “new.”
Recounting how the American town of Bal Harbour once barred Jewish residents, Friedman said, “I wish I could say the old antisemitism is a thing of the past,” but “with the internet, the old antisemitism has a distribution channel that the old antisemites … could only have dreamed of. … I worry about the old antisemitism, but I never doubt that we will prevail in our fight against it.”
This “old” antisemitism, however, has been superseded. “The new antisemitism worries me a bit more,” Friedman said. “It is the irrational, deceitful, and insidious vilification of Israel and its supporters under the guise of political commentary. It is just a cleverly repackaged form of hatred against the Jewish people.”
Friedman also asserted that this new antisemitism is acceptable in polite society in a way the old antisemitism is not.
“There are places in Manhattan—where I worked for 35 years—where if you attended a cocktail party and said ‘I hate Jews,’ then you would be politely escorted to the door,” he stated. “But if you said, ‘Isn’t it a shame that after Jews survived the Holocaust, they turned into Nazis themselves against the Palestinians,’ if you said that, you might be offered another drink and invited to hold court on your interesting point of view.”
Ultimately, Friedman said, “To accuse Israel of Nazism, apartheid, or institutional bigotry because of well-intentioned, good faith efforts to protect its inhabitants against terrorism is to be an antisemite plain and simple.”
Friedman then took the audience aback by revealing that Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, called him “a son of a dog” earlier in the day.
Abbas was responding to a tweet earlier in the day by Friedman, who wrote of the recent terrorist attacks:
“Tragedy in Israel. Two young soldiers, Netanel Kahalani and Ziv Daos, murdered in the North, and father of 4, Adiel Kolman, murdered in Jerusalem, by Palestinian terrorists. Such brutality and no condemnation from the PA! I pray for the families and the wounded – so much sadness,” Friedman tweeted.
Friedman explained the tweet, saying that he merely “observed something that was unfortunate and obvious. I observed this morning that three Jews were killed in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists, and the reaction from the Palestinian Authority was deafening. No condemnation whatsoever. I pointed that out without further commentary.”
Abbas’s response, he said calmly, “was to call me the son of a dog.”
The ambassador concluded by hailing President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, calling it “a shot right through the heart of the new antisemitism. And let’s hope it is just the beginning.”