Speaking at a meeting in Munich of officials from around the world gathered to tackle the issue of antisemitism, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder demanded action against antisemitism, especially new laws that would regulate its spread over the internet.
Lauder spoke at the Second World Jewish Congress International Meeting of Special Envoys and Coordinators for Combating Antisemitism, a meeting of three dozen officials from around the globe.
“After three decades, antisemitism has now reared its head,” said Lauder. “Antisemitism, even after 1945, was here. It was quiet, underground, but it was here. It didn’t disappear.”
Citing the Yom Kippur synagogue attack in the German city of Halle, in which an antisemitic gunman attempted to attack the congregation barricaded inside, and then proceeded to kill two passersby when he could not enter the building, Lauder asked of the killer, “Where’d he get the information?”
“It didn’t come from the air,” he stated. “It came over the internet. He was someone who frankly sat at home and looked at the internet and got angry.”
At the moment, he noted, “There’s no ability to stop this stuff coming. We can find out where every piece on the internet comes from if we want to. No one’s doing it.”
At one meeting on issue, said Lauder, “I spoke to a judge, and asked ‘how do you allow this to happen?’ He said, ‘There’s no law against it.’”
Lauder criticized the actions of the police at Halle, noting that it took them 20 minutes to respond to the shooting, and said that if a non-Jewish site were the target, “Police would have been there in five minutes.”
Of the German police, he charged, “At least a third of them are basically antisemitic. And the question is, how can you expect them to carry out things when you have [neo-Nazi] marches in Chemnitz and Dortmund, and the police stand by? For us, it is very reminiscent of the police standing by during Kristallnacht, and not allowing the firemen to get there.”
Lauder recommended a concerted effort to revamp Holocaust and antisemitism education, especially to make them more immersive and immediate through the use of films and lectures from survivors.
He also demanded the enactment of much stricter laws against hate speech on the internet and elsewhere.
“This is what we are facing,” he stated. “We can have all of the confidences that we want, but we want action not words. We want laws that really mean something.”
Commenting on the speeches heard at the conference, Lauder noted, “No one said, ‘This is what I plan to do.’ We heard, ‘We must stop it,’ but no one said, ‘We have to change this law or that law.’”
Noting that films and other information on antisemitic hate groups are readily available to authorities, he said, “What do we do with them? Nothing. That’s the question.”