A. Antisemitism is Back
Antisemitism is back. Whether the bombing of a Synagogue in Turkey, the use of traditional anti Semitic stereotypes in the Arab press, or the open hatred of Jewish students on University campuses worldwide, one fact is clear: the "oldest hatred" has returned.
Historically, Europe has been one of the centers of Antisemitism, and – indeed – its cradle. Today, the syndrome has re-appeared worldwide, but on the European continent, in particular, – and with a vengeance. This is not just speculation, or based solely on the outcome of incident record-keeping: it is the conclusion of serious research. Below are the disquieting findings about beliefs among the general population, as surveyed and recorded by two independent and highly reputable institutions:
B. The European Commission Report on Antisemitism
This independent report was prepared by the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at the Technische Universität Berlin, Germany, on behalf of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), namely, for the European Commission.
The fact that the report was suppressed by the Commission itself, and published by other, non-associated bodies, speaks volumes about its findings: at first, the Commission claimed that there were data collection and statistical problems relating to definitions and quantification, but their primary concern was really the major finding that most of the antisemitic incidents were directly related to the political tension in Europe reflected from the Second Intifada and that, moreover, this growing wave of Antisemitism emanated primarily from Muslims in Europe. It is no coincidence that this outcome was the sequel to another EU poll, which found that Israel was perceived as the greatest threat to world peace: there is a perceived correlation in the minds of many Europeans.
The report is well based in statistical references from reputable sources. It covered verbal aggression, physical violence and assault, as well as attacks against institutions. Findings clearly demonstrate that the major problems were in France, the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands. It also addresses the tone of the mass media (Greece), the appearance of radical Islamic groups in countries with a traditionally right-wing form of Antisemitism (Spain), as well as the persistence of right-wing Antisemitism in other countries (Austria). However, it also emphasises the unification of the left-wing and pro-Palestinian groups at demonstrations in Spain, France, Italy and Sweden, where antisemitic slogans and banners were part of the rallies.
In terms of incidents and attacks, the perpetrators did include right-wing extremists, but also "radical Islamists, young Muslims", "Palestinian groups", politicians and "citizens from the political mainstream", as well as the anti-globalization lobby, the anti-American lobby and "just for the fun of it".
The report did not attempt to quantify "salon" Antisemitism, but noted the prevalence of latent antisemitic opinions in the general population and addressed the entire gamut of antisemitic prejudice, from the conspiracy theory, through Holocaust denial, across the political spectrum to the Church. It also covered the tie-in to anti-Israel sentiment, especially in the media and the Internet, irrespective of source.
The recommendations were clearly directed at improving records, policing, legislation joint strategies and guidelines in general. Recommendations for Internet and Media were less clear.
It remains to be seen whether the proposed Conference on Antisemitism will now take place – it has been postponed once, but Council President Prodi has now promised that it will be convened (in conjunction with the European Council of Jewish Communities).
C. The Anti-Defamation League Poll
This is a summary report and analysis of the recent Taylor Nelson Sofres poll commissioned by the Anti Defamation League (also in the EU report, above, page 43) http://www.adl.org/PresRele/ASInt_13/4118_13.asp found that a traditional hatred of Jews in Europe has been rekindled. The poll showed that a large number of Europeans accept a wide range of traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews. Of those surveyed;
D. The Tip of the Iceberg
In 2003 a Jewish memorial in Belarus was vandalized. Neo-Nazi extremists planted bombs at a Munich synagogue. A Viennese rabbi was attacked. A man was kicked and spat upon in Berlin for wearing a Star of David.
Jeff Jacoby of The Boston Globe, describes Jews as the canary in Europe’s mine. He outlines the alarming extent of Antisemitism across Europe, and how far it has gone. The article lists physical assault, arson and automatic fire on property in Belgium; anti-Israel cartoons with anti-Jewish themes in Italy; physical assault, explosives against property, a neo-Nazi rally near a synagogue and similar graffiti on a synagogue in Germany; in Greece, a Jewish cemetery and a Holocaust memorial were desecrated; in Slovakia, the Kosice Jewish cemetery was severely damaged and desecrated; in Holland, there were dominant neo-Nazi tones at an anti-Israel rally.
It is in France that the new wave of Antisemitism appears endemic and to have reached a critical level. With the largest Jewish population in Europe, France offers an ideal breeding ground for the fomentation of oppportunistic Antisemitism, with little deterrent action being taken by the authorities over a period of three years.
Between September 9, 2000 and November 20, 2001, 330 antisemitic incidents took place in Paris - about an incident a day.
In April 2002 a Paris synagogue was targeted, a Jewish sports club was attacked in Toulouse, southern France, two Molotov cocktails were thrown at a synagogue outside Paris. Attackers threw several firebombs at the Jewish religious centre in the southern city of Montpellier overnight, setting a nearby office ablaze. A bus was torched at a Jewish school in the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers.
On the night of Saturday November 15th 2003, the same day as the Istanbul synagogue was attacked by suicide bombers, there was a major arson attack on a French Jewish school in outer suburban Paris.
The list is endless and the curve is still rising in France: it markedly now includes assault on Jewish people in the streets and an attack on a Jewish youth club, during club hours. However, it should be noted that incidents in Belgium have been far more violent against actual persons (assault) as a whole, and more numerous too, in proportion to the smaller Jewish and general population.
E. Epidemic proportions
Antisemitism has spread beyond Europe; attacks on Jews and their property have been reported in Canada, Australia and the USA. Antisemitism has reached such a proportion that it can no longer be brushed aside as incidental, or minor.
For a recent article relating the rise of anti-semitism, see here.
For a blog reporting all the latest on anti-semitism around the world, see here.
The "new" Antisemitism emanates from three major sources:
These constitute the three pillars of hatred towards the Jewish people today. The events of September 11, together with the renewed violence in the Middle East, have rallied these three ideologies around a central anti-Semitic theme to form an axis of evil.
Where Left meets right