Noa Tishby speaks about her book, "Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth." (Photo/Forward-Rich Fury-Getty Images For Wolman Wealth Management)
Noa Tishby speaks about her book, "Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth." (Photo/Forward-Rich Fury-Getty Images For Wolman Wealth Management)

Noa Tishby, Israel’s new antisemitism envoy, says anti-Zionism is antisemitism ‘100%’

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While battling a new wave of terror and dealing with a complicated political crisis, the Israeli government on Monday officially established a new envoy to combat antisemitism, appointing actor, author and pro-Israel activist Noa Tishby to the unpaid post.

Tishby, who lives in Los Angeles, said in a Zoom interview that she was “a little in awe” and that she would argue that all anti-Zionism is antisemitism, an increasingly controversial stance with the American left, especially among younger generations. Liberal Jews, she said, need to “stop being apologetic” about the connection.

“I need to make sure that people from outside the Jewish world are clear that anti-Zionism is antisemitism,” said Tishby, whose book, “Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth,” irked many on the left. “But also for the Jewish people, for our community, to understand that it’s absolutely connected – 100%.”

Pro-Israel Jewish organizations and members of Congress welcomed the appointment, made by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in a video message on Twitter. Israel’s establishment of the new post follows the U.S. Senate’s recent confirmation of Deborah E. Lipstadt as the State Department’s ambassador to combat and monitor antisemitism.

Tishby’s role has not been clearly defined by Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs, and it does not yet have a staff or a budget. In the interview, Tishby said she would collaborate with Lipstadt, whom she called an “incredible voice.”

Lipstadt, who is on leave from Emory University in Atlanta, is one of the world’s most respected historians of the Holocaust, and has stepped into the newly elevated role with more name recognition and credibility than her predecessors. The post was established by Congress in 2004, and raised to the rank of ambassador last year.

Critics have suggested that Tishby — who has starred in an Israeli soap opera and co-produced the award-winning HBO show “In Treatment” — lacks the expertise and credibility to tackle antisemitism on a global stage. But Tishby said that it is “crucial” in today’s climate to have both “the historians of the world and people like me to articulate that message.”

She suggested that her experience as an activist and an author makes her “uniquely positioned to perform in this role” and to create new alliances. “I have been in the trenches with this for over a decade,” Tishby said. “It’s not because I’m nice or post cute social media videos.”

Jacob Kornbluh

Jacob Kornbluh is the Forward’s senior political reporter. Follow him on Twitter @jacobkornbluh or email [email protected].

Forward

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