YNetNews Interview - Head of Conference of Presidents: Anti-Semitism in the US on the Rise by Attila Somfalvi

Head of Conference of Presidents: Anti-Semitism in the US on the rise

Malcolm Hoenlein says 75% of American Jewish students witnessed or experienced anti-Semitism on campus; 'It's not Europe, but we're definitely on the rise,' he warns.

Attila Somfalvi

Published: 02.18.16, 11:20 / Israel Jewish Scene

"It's not Europe yet, but (anti-Semitism) is definitely on the rise," said Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which is held this week in Jerusalem for the 42nd year. "That's something we have a collective responsibility to address."  Three-quarters of American Jewish students say they witnessed or experienced anti-Semitism on a campus, American-Jewish leader Malcolm Hoenlein told Ynet on Wednesday.

Despite that, Hoenlein said ties between Jerusalem and Washington remain stable. "America has one reliable ally, one 'aircraft carrier' in this whole region that it can count on at any time, where it can preposition a billion dollar in equipment and it'll be there in six months," he said.

He disagrees with assessments that the relationship between the two nations has reached an all time low. "We tend to glorify relationships in the past," he said. "We always had these moments of tensions, but the fundamentals of the relationship are really what's important.

"While the chemistry of the two leaders is important and a contributing factor, clearly both are trying to improve it. The prime minister during his visit went out of his way. And I think there's generally been a lessening of the tensions and focusing again on the overwhelming things that unite America and Israel more than ever: The fight against terrorism, the instability in the region," he continued.

Hoenlein also asserted that "the American public supports Israel by an overwhelming majority and it's been consistent and constant. Even on the Iran issue the American public supported the position that we advocated and expresses concern today about the Iran deal.

"We need every part of the American people to stand with Israel, and that means there has to be sensitivity, there has to be understanding about who you're talking to, what we're saying. But the American people get it. It's quite remarkable the degree to which they do despite a lot of the media distortion."

Hoenlein said the American Jewish leadership is closely following the issues of the "security and safety of Jewish students and we have lawyers who go onto campuses all over the country - many of them, by the way, non-Jews - to protect the interests and rights of Jewish students, to enlist faculty, to go after the administrations, to work with them. In many cases we find it's ignorance, it's the lack of understanding - it's not hatred or anti-Semitism."

He pointed to two major dangers to the Jewish community worldwide – Iran as an external danger and the lack of unity as an internal danger.

"Iran remains the greatest external danger because Iran is Hezbollah, Iran is Hamas, Iran is active in South America. We've uncovered tremendous networks of tens of thousands Iranian agents. These pose grave dangers I think to the security of American Jews, world Jews," he said.

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