Societies that seek to conduct themselves according to the rule of the law are always challenged to re-examine their laws, and the definitions that underlie those laws. If definitions are loose and open to wide degrees of interpretation, it becomes extremely challenging to apply laws fairly. For instance, under the Baathist dictatorship in Syria, the charge of “threatening national security” could mean everything from deserting army service to not attending a government sanctioned rally, if the government even bothered to lay a formal charge).
As a Syrian, I saw my own country fall apart over the course of several years. But the illness in Syrian society, and indeed the entire region, was growing decades before the final calamity. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, Jews in Syria were subjected to the confiscation of property, bank accounts, and restrictions on employment and travel, both within the country and out of it. These acts of oppression would eventually be used as a template to oppress the rest of the country.
In Syria, as in the rest of the world, throughout history, what started with the Jews, never ended with the Jews.
Which brings us to the present, and the world’s oldest hatred, antisemitism.
By every indication and reliable statistic, the world is without a doubt facing a worrying rise in antisemitic attacks, rhetoric and hate crimes.
Especially now, during the COVID-19 global pandemic, with antisemitic conspiracy theories being widely circulated on the Internet (i.e. “since Israel was the first to a breakthrough with a vaccine, it must have known about the virus all along”).
It is an issue that is not limited to one country or region, but, as has been the case throughout history, is a global matter. A blood chilling, hateful video in one part of the world can inspire a murderous rampage in another part. Hate speech targeting a certain demographic in Europe will also affect the safety of members of that demographic in North America or Australia. And a global matter requires a global approach to confront