Lapid Says Weak Foreign Ministry to Blame for Antisemitism

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israel antisemitism
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Sunday that neglect of Israel’s Foreign Ministry in recent years has been a significant cause of the rise in antisemitism and anti-Israel activities around the world.

“They are doing this because no one explains to them what is really happening here. They are doing this because Israel’s enemies invested money, time, and effort, and here they throttled the Foreign Ministry and the hasbara array for political reasons,” he says, using the Hebrew term for public diplomacy.

Though he did not mention Binyamin Netanyahu by name, the implication was that he was blaming the former prime minister for the “complete neglect” of Israel’s foreign ministry.

“The results are dire,” Lapid said. “Antisemitism has reached a peak that has not been seen since World War II. Attacks against Israel in the United States and Europe are a rolling disaster.”

To remedy the situation, he pledged an expansion of the Foreign Ministry budget and its diplomatic reach. “It is simply absurd that the Palestinian Authority should have more representatives in the world than the State of Israel,” he said.

He also plans to expand the role of the ministry — and his role — in the government generally.

“There are no critical decisions in Israel that do not have international implications, and therefore there will be no critical decisions that will not involve the Foreign Ministry,” he explained.

“Restoring the senior status of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” is a goal that both Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett share, Lapid said.

This was the second time in recent days that Lapid has shared his insights into antisemitism.

At the seventh Global Forum on Combatting Anti-Semitism on July 14, Lapid offered a new definition of antisemitism, declaring that it is just a subspecies of racism. As such, he categorized as antisemites the members of the Hutu tribe in Rwanda who massacred members of the Tutsis; the Muslim fanatics who over the past decade have killed more than 20 million other Muslims, and Islamic State and Boko Haram.

The idea provoked much criticism and rebuke.

Agudath Israel of America issued a statement saying that “to wrap all deranged murderers and haters into a neat malodorous package does a grave disservice to the most ancient, multifaceted and tenacious hatred, one that persists even into lives of Jews around the globe today. It does a grave disservice to history.”

The Agudah also disputed the view among liberals that to say antisemitism is unique is to practice “Jewish supremacy … and that to hate the Jew is something many times more serious than to hate the Black, Armenian or Muslim,” as an opinion piece in Haaretz put it.

The Agudah statement concluded: “To note that antisemitism is unique and uniquely senseless and ugly is not to claim some sort of special treatment for Jews or to assert some Jewish racial superiority. It is simply to respect a historical, and lamentable, fact.”