Hannah Rosenthal, the State Department’s anti-Semitism envoy, must defend Israel from delegitimization while confronting a growing wave of anti-Jewish rhetoric among European elites
Anti-Semitism is alive and well in Europe, in some countries, particularly among elites, U.S. State Department official Hannah Rosenthal told Tablet Magazine on Monday. Rosenthal, the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, said that Holocaust denial is a growing phenomenon around the world and that anti-Semitism “is increasing on every continent.” She reserved particularly harsh criticism for the rise of neo-Nazi and anti-immigrant parties throughout Europe and the delegitimizing criticism of Israel in Western countries like Spain.
Rosenthal also condemned state-sponsored anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, citing by name Sheikh Yussuf al-Qaradawi, a popular television personality and spiritual adviser to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. She accused Qaradawi of whipping up genocidal fervor against the Jews in the Middle East, pointing to his appearances on Al Jazeera in which, she said, he “calls for a new Holocaust, Allah willing, let us be the perpetrators to finish the job.”
Rosenthal spoke to Tablet Magazine at the State Department in Washington following a lecture on the Eichmann trial by the Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt, whose The Eichmann Trial was released by Nextbook Press March 15. The event was attended by nearly 200 State staffers, guests, and diplomats, including representatives from Turkey, Morocco, Lithuania, and Israel.
Rosenthal had much to say on the Middle East, from Saudi textbooks (“They’re still teaching children that Jews and Christians are children of apes and pigs”) to Iranian human rights abuses. She also accused the United Nations of a “complete obsession with Israel.” However—as in November 2009, when she first took the State Department job—Rosenthal seemed most passionate about anti-Semitism in its historic breeding ground and the site of its greatest crime: Europe. “I have been amazed—almost paralyzed—by the degree to which I hear anti-Semitic statements like blood libel in Spain, or blood libel morphing—instead of Jews killing Christian children to use their blood for baking matzoh, Jews kidnapping children to steal their organs—in Ukraine, or Sweden,” she said.
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