A group of Israeli tourists visiting Argentina’s Patagonia region were savagely attacked at a small hostel by local assailants shouting anti-Semitic slurs.
Three men “burned, robbed and beat” the tourists at a hostel in Lago Puelo in the overnight hours. Ten Israelis were injured in the attack.
It’s just one day after more than a dozen Israelis traveling to Tel Aviv on a commuter bus were the victims of a stabbing rampage by a Palestinian terrorist. And it’s not even two weeks since Jews were held hostage and murdered by Islamic extremists in a kosher grocery in Paris.
Three events, thousands of miles apart from each other, connected by one common theme: deep-seated hatred of Jews.
Attacks on Jews are occurring with alarming frequency. It’s not about settlements, the peace process or Operation Protective Edge. Israelis and Jews throughout the world are targeted for being Jewish. There’s no longer any pretense that these savage acts have anything to do with Israeli policies or politics.
When governments persist in accusing Israel of all sorts of crimes using all kinds of anti-Semitic tropes – from global conspiracies to accusations of child killing – they do more than just sway public opinion. They directly contribute to a hateful climate in which terrorists and anti-Semitic thugs believe their actions are supported.
According to the ADL’s latest report on global anti-Semitism, 1.09 billion people harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. In Argentina, 28 percent of those surveyed said “Jews have too much power over global affairs,” and 27 percent said Jews “think they’re better than other people.” In France, 26 percent say Jews are hated “because of the way [they] behave.” The numbers from the West Bank and Gaza are far more alarming. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t virulently anti-Semitic; 78 percent say Jews are responsible for “most of the world’s wars” and 87 percent say Jews bring on anti-Semitism themselves because of their behavior.
While there’s no indication of any connection between the attack in Patagonia and other events in the country, the situation in Argentina has now become even more complicated and disturbing. Argentinian officials appear to have colluded with Iran to cover up the bombing of a Jewish community center and the murder of a prosecutor investigating it. Iran foments terror and anti-Semitism around the world and has been implicated in targeting Jews in Argentina. As one article notes, “there are disturbing echoes of the world 20 or 30 years ago when Tehran, often in league with its clients in Hezbollah, waged a global war on the enemies of the Islamic Republic, deploying hit teams second only to the Israelis in their skill at assassination.”
Today, the United Nations convened an “informal” conference on anti-Semitism. Our Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, has already exhorted the General Assembly to step up, saying, “Countries must do more, much more” to combat the scourge of anti-Semitism.
Most observers expect the UN will do little more than pay lip service to the global scourge of anti-Semitism. But it is a start.
Thankfully, no one has yet died in the past 48 hours of anti-Semitic violence. But as we pray for the recovery of the injured, we must re-dedicate ourselves to standing up to those around the world who would like nothing more than to see the Jewish people perish. Anti-Semitism is leeching from Islamist extremism into right-wing nationalism. It’s even becoming mainstream, acceptable in places around the world where it would have been unthinkable even a few years ago.
Our partners at the ADL and AJC are doing tremendous work in this area combatting anti-Semitism around the world and telling Israel’s story on the global stage.
Given the extent of the problem, we all know that more will need to be done. We will work with our partners around the world to strengthen local Jewish communities. In addition, we will continue to remind the world that these episodes of anti-Jewish violence are not isolated. This is a worldwide campaign, from murderous Islamic extremism to the subtler and insidious efforts to delegitimize Israel on the world stage through boycotts, divestments and sanctions as well as other purportedly “anti-Zionist” efforts that are, in fact, thinly-veiled attacks aimed directly at Jews and Jewish life anywhere.
I look forward to sharing thoughts and ideas in the coming weeks.