The 2016 annual meeting of the World Social Forum took place in Montreal this month to strategize and coordinate campaigns in support of anti-globalization, anti-capitalism, and now anti-Semitism.
Viewed as a progressive alternative to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, it began with an anti-Semitic cartoon depicting a stereotypical hook-nosed Orthodox Jew controlling the United States government as well as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by proxy. The cartoon, part of a now-canceled talk by Seyed Ali Mousavi, titled “Terrorizm [sic], Wahhabism [sic], Zionism,” was criticized by two Canadian members of Parliament, leading to removal of the Canadian government logo from the forum’s list of partners.
Although Mousavi’s talk was canceled, the WSF website lists at least a dozen other events intended to promote the wholesale boycott of Israel. They include a workshop comparing the calling-out of anti-Semitism to McCarthyism, headlined by Diane Ralph, a notorious conspiracy theorist who has blamed Israel and the U.S. for staging the September 11 terrorist attacks.
WSF attendees also heard from Sabine Friesinger, a former student union president involved in the violent riot preventing current-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking at Concordia University in 2002. Elderly Holocaust survivor Thomas Hecht was physically assaulted during that riot.
Another speaker at the conference was Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. In a 2014 speech at UCLA, Barghouti denied the existence of the Jewish people, claiming that Jews are not indigenous to Israel and have no right to self-determination or collective rights. Nonetheless, Barghouti rejected the notion that BDS is anti-Semitic.
The anti-Jewish bigotry at the conference was not only shameless, but also deceitful. While Bargouti’s presentation promoted academic BDS against Israel, he himself is a student at Tel Aviv University, currently pursuing his Ph.D. after having completed his MA in philosophy at the Israeli institution. When asked about this blatant contradiction, Bargouti replied that his studies were a “personal matter.”
Bargouti also claimed that BDS was opposed to violence, yet just a day earlier he spoke alongside Friesinger at a militant roundtable presented by the WSF that focused on international BDS coordination against Israel. Bargouti has previously voiced approval of Palestinian violence against Israel. Jamal Jomaa, of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, echoed Bargouti’s insistence that BDS is non-violent, and then went on to support the Palestinian right to commit violence against Israel.
One of the most flagrantly hypocritical aspects of the WSF was the workshop that encouraged BDS by Christian churches against Israel. In the Middle East, Christianity has plunged from 14 percent of the population in 1910, to 4 percent today. In the Palestinian territories, Christians have dropped from 15 percent of the population to 2 percent today. Bethlehem, once home to a strong Christian majority and the birthplace of Jesus, is now almost completely devoid of Christians.
No credit was given to the fact that Israel stands as the only country in the region where the Christian community is not only allowed to survive, but prospers at a rate unheard of elsewhere in the Middle East. In Israel, the Christian population has grown five-fold to about 158,000 Israeli citizens since 1948. In terms of education, Christian Arabs in Israel fare statistically better than any other religious group.
The reality is that Arab Christians occupy influential roles throughout Israeli society. Among them is Salim Joubran, an Israeli Arab Supreme Court judge who served as the Chairman of the Central Election Committee during the last Israeli election. Joubran was in charge of registering lists of those running for Israel’s parliament, campaign financing, election logistics, tallying results, and dealing with challenges to the results. This is a lot of power for someone who is supposedly a victim of Israeli apartheid and genocide.
The WSF was a disgraceful platform for anti-Jewish bigotry and nothing more than a hate-fest against the State of Israel. With all of the rhetoric it spews about seeking to build a better world, it instead highlights a serious problem with anti-Semitism on the Left.