By Adam Moses

Members of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians blasted Hamas’ attack on Israel at World Jewish Congress’ latest Plenary Assembly.

The ICJP had gathered to discuss legal strategies to combat antisemitism and advance human rights.

But for numerous delegates the focus was on the Israel’s right to defend itself as Hamas fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli cities.

US Rep. Ted Deutch, North American ICJP co-chair, called on the ICJP to speak out forcefully for Israel.

“Right now, at this very moment, Israelis, our Israeli colleagues, the Israeli people, are under siege by Hamas terrorists launching rockets with the sole purpose of killing as many civilians as they can, and we, Jewish parliamentarians, cannot afford to be silent,” he noted. “We must say unequivocally that there is no place on earth where a terror group firing hundreds of rockets on innocent civilians should be defended or its actions justified, not if human rights matter to us.”

Deutch added. “The attack on Israel is an attack on the Jewish state, and attacks on our people is something that all of us here understand uniquely and are tasked with speaking out on forcefully.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said that no nation should be subject to the “barrage of rocket fire” or “assault” as Israel was experiencing.

“I’m extremely concerned by those who purposely demonise Israel’s conduct while ignoring Israel’s right to self-defence including its obligation to protect all of its citizens,” she said.

Wasserman-Schultz added. “While Israel is in such a vulnerable state, we must be more vigilant than ever because unfortunately, opposition to Israel’s actions too often spurs antisemitism with the US and around the world. It’s an unfair criticism over and over again when nations around the world whose actual atrocities are ignored, yet every action taken by Israel is disproportionately reacted to. It’s unacceptable.”

Waldo Wolff, Latin American ICJP co-chair, commented, “We have to defend our right to express ourselves and defend the right of Israel to exist. In these times, we can recognise who are our true friends.”

Global antisemitism was a key topic on the agenda.

ICJP chair, US Sen. Jacky Rosen, told delegates that no issue threatens Jewish communities around the world more than anti-Semitism and violent extremism.

“Across the globe from the US to Europe to the Middle East, antisemitism is on the rise, it’s on the streets, it’s online, it’s in political parties, and it’s even on college campuses,” Rosen noted. “This is something that we must come together to confront head-on.”

Deutch, commented, “The forces of racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, terrorism and Holocaust denial are growing threats to peace and stability, not only to the Jewish community but starting with the Jewish community. It affects every Jewish community, all of us, because we are one Jewish community.” He added, “We have to fight antisemitic attacks wherever they occur. We must come to the defence of every Jew, every Jewish community facing hatred and violence.”

Anthony Housefather, North American ICJP co-chair, called for an international task force to combat online hate whilst Baroness Gillian Merron, European ICJP co- chair, said it was “absolutely crucial” Jewish parliamentarians across the world to speak up for the Jewish communities.

“The issues that we bring are ones that I believe are about freedom, about dignity and decency,” she noted.

Vivian Teitelbaum, Brussels Capital Region, raised issues in Belgium including a lack of political will to fight antisemitism, denial of the growth of antisemitism and its existence.

The WJC Plenary Assembly takes place every four years bringing together delegates from over 100 countries. The Assembly elects WJC leadership and sets policy. Delegates gathered mid-April and will hold discussions s affecting Jewish communities until the end of May.

The ICJP is a global network of Jewish legislators, government ministers and elected officials.

The forum promotes dialogue between Jewish parliamentarians to support democracy, human rights, rule of law, and to combat racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, terrorism, and Holocaust denial.

The ICJP also strives for Middle East peace.

WJC President, Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder, commented, “We live in an era of conspiracy myths, rising antisemitism and xenophobia, and a disturbing recurrence of Holocaust denial online and offline,” he noted. “The ICJP has a powerful role to play in countering these troubling, dangerous phenomena.”