A synagogue on the Greek island of Crete has been targeted by arsonists
for the second time in three weeks.
January 26, 2010 / 11 Shvat 5770
2009 saw a dramatic increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Western Europe, as well as a sharp rise in the number of acts of violence against Jews. This was the conclusion of the annual report conducted by the Jewish Agency’s Task Force on Anti-Semitism, which was presented at a press conference on January 24, 2010. in the Jewish Agency Building in Jerusalem.
The press conference was attended by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, and Amos Hermon, head of the Jewish Agency’s Task Force on Anti-Semitism. The report was presented in advance of International Holocaust Remembrance and Struggle Against Anti-Semitism Day, and the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Death Camp, on January 27.
The report found that 2009 saw the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents in Western Europe since World War II. More anti-Semitic incidents took place in Western Europe during the first three months of 2009 than in all of 2008. During the first half of the year alone, 631 incidents of anti-Semitism occurred in France (as opposed to 474 throughout 2008), and over 600 in Great Britain. In just the first two months of 2009, approximately one hundred anti-Semitic incidents took place in the Netherlands, whereas a similar number of such incidents occurred in the country throughout 2008.
Hundreds of these incidents were violent and severe, and include two murders: The murder of a Jewish student in Connecticut, and the killing of an American security guard during an anti-Semitic assault on the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
A particularly prominent phenomenon that developed over the course of the year was that of the “modern blood libel.” In August, 2009, an article appeared in a Swedish newspaper claiming that Israel kills Palestinians in order to sell their organs. Anti-Semitic television series in Arab states portrayed Israeli security forces as bloodthirsty killers, and a film recently posted on YouTube accused the Israeli rescue mission in Haiti of stealing the survivors’ organs.
Other trends that surfaced in 2009 include a rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the context of local political races, including contentious races in Hungary and the Ukraine, cooperation between far left activists and Moslem communities, and public sympathy toward Moslem violence against Jews. At the same time, the report found that governmental action against anti-Semitism, such as the measures taken by the governments of the United States, Ukraine and Czechoslovakia, yielded significant results.
In response, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky announced the launching of a program to substantially reinforce the network of Jewish Agency emissaries working in pro-Israel activities in major universities across the Diaspora. Sharansky noted that he intends to increase the number of emissaries from 19 to over 100 who will work to bring about a positive image of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.