ATbar Prof. Irwin Cotler – ICT16

Prof. Irwin Cotler – ICT16

13/09/2016 | by Cotler, Irwin (Prof.)  

“Anti-Semitism and International Terrorism”

Prof. Irwin Cotler, Member of the Professional Advisory Board, ICT, IDC Herzliya & Former Minister of Justice & Attorney General, Canada

The session was part of the ICT's 16th World Summit on Counter-Terrorism: "Unpuzzling Terrorism". Prof. Cotler presented the link between anti-Semitism and international terrorism, noting that anti-Semitism is not only a driver behind terrorism, but is also a reason for many acts of terrorism being disregarded by the international community.  


Professor Cotler began his speech talking about the memory of 9/11, and then gradually moved to the 15th anniversary of the Durban conference against racism. He spoke about the apartheid and the hate against Israel as a state. The outcome of the Durban conference, which preceded the events of 9/11, was that the Geneva conventions designated Israel as a state which committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The September 2001 attacks also marked the first year of the Second Intifada. According to Professor Cotler, the number of people who died during the first two years of the Second Intifada was equal, in proportionate terms, to almost six 9/11s. Despite this fact, he said, 9/11 took the attention of the international community. The deaths of Jews was not acknowledged nor addressed. As it was often expressed in international community, Cotler stated, “terrorism against Jews was not considered terrorism if the target were Jewish.” Terrorism against Jewish targets was usually excluded from the analyses. The missing information could have been relevant information to incident evidence and more importantly to the study of terrorism. The attacks on Jews abroad were only made public following the attacks in Europe – in Paris (Charlie Hebdo), Copenhagen, Toulouse etc.

Prof. Cotler also talked about his personal experience and the experiences of his family members who were staying in Israel at the time of numerous terrorist attacks. None of these attacks were covered in the media in Canada. He presented Anti-Semitism as a looking glass of international terrorism. The campaign of ‘wiping Israel out of the map’ was launched and supported by a number of terrorist organizations and even states. According to Prof. Cotler, terrorism is used in order to destroy Israel and kill the Jewish people around the world. He claims that Hamas' Covenant even accused the Jews with the responsibility for all the evil in the world. Then he stated that Islamic terrorism is calling for the terror against Jewish people.

As a Former Minister of Justice, Prof. Cotler explained his experience in prosecuting terrorist crimes. One of the three clusters of the anti-Semitism puzzle, he elaborated, was a critical mass of demonization of Jews and Israel. In other words, Israel and Jews are, in general, perceived as racist, colonialist, and a Nazi state. Moreover, Jewish people and Israel are the standing targets of state sanctions by governments, terrorist organizations, and religious groups.

Prof. Cotler then talked about how, in 2014, Israel was the only state which was put in the dark for the third time. According to Geneva Conventions, Israel committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. He explains that this act seems like a direct justification for anti-Semitism. Towards the end of his speech, Prof. Cotler elaborated on the Iranian nuclear deal and the need to abandon and punish terrorism that is supported by Iran. Prof. Cotler concluded his presentation with elaborating the link between anti-Semitism and international terrorism which according to him, often calls for the killing of Jewish people.