Findings point at an intensified feeling that personal safety and communal wellbeing are jeopardized
By Aryeh Savir
Tazpit News Agency
An annual report on Anti-Semitism worldwide during 2013 was released today (Apr. 27), a day before Israel marks Yom Hashoa, the Holocaust day. The report, compiled by Prof. Dina Porat of the Moshe Kantor database for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University in cooperation with the European Jewish Congress, describes a severe escalation in the worldwide anti-Jewish atmosphere in 2013, as anti-Semitism continues to infiltrate the mainstream from the extreme left and right fringes, and its manifestations have become an almost daily phenomenon.
The major conclusion of the research conducted by the Kantor Center team and supported by both community reports and independent surveys by non-Jewish sources, is that the anxiety felt by Jews around the world, both as individuals and as communities, originates in the growing intensity and the increase in insults, abusive language and behavior, threats and harassments, but not necessarily in an increase in the number of physical violent incidents.
Surveys show that most Jews who have experienced an anti-Semitic verbal or physical attack did not report them; therefore the situation is worse than the one reported by monitoring and law enforcing agencies and Jewish communities.
During 2013 the Kantor Center team registered and analyzed 554 violent anti-Semitic acts perpetrated with weapons or without, by arson, vandalism or direct threats against Jewish persons or institutions such as synagogues, community centers, schools, cemeteries and monuments, as well as private property. Physically violent incidents decreased in 2013 by 19% to 554 attacks, yet the number of direct attacks against persons is steadily increasing.
Among all registered cases worldwide there were 25 attacks with weapons, 98 cases of weaponless violence, 9 cases of arson, 89 direct threats, and 333 incidents of vandalism. The targets of such incidents were 185 persons, 67 synagogues, 52 community centers and schools, 90 cemeteries and memorial sites and 160 private properties. The highest number of events occurred in France: 116, (compared to 200 in 2012). A decline in violent cases was registered in Italy, Poland, the US and Australia, and a rise was recorded in the UK, Canada, Germany and the Ukraine. The number of violent incidents during the last decade (2004-2014) is higher than in the former one.
Disconcerting findings were the result of a wide scope survey published in the beginning of November 2013 by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), a research branch of the European Union (EU), on the reactions and perceptions among European Jews regarding anti-Semitism. The survey was conducted among six thousand Jews in eight countries, where approximately one million Jews who constitute 90% of the Jewish population of the European Union reside. The findings point at an intensified feeling that personal safety and communal wellbeing are jeopardized, especially in Hungary, France, and Belgium, followed by Sweden, Italy, Germany, UK and Latvia, where the situation is less severe. About 80% of the participants in Hungary considered extreme right circles as the main source of threat; over 60% in Italy pointed to the left; 73%t in France and 60% in Belgium blamed radical Muslims, while anti-Semitism originating in the church and in Christianity in general, was last on the list.
The report offers two conclusions. First: There is a growing discrepancy between official policies in most western countries that support commemorating the Holocaust, condemning any form of anti-Semitism, and promoting legislation against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, and the popular opinion in such countries that surfaced, for instance, during the kosher slaughtering and circumcision debates, and intensified when Jewish property looted by the Nazis reappears as a national issue. A significant number of politicians, leaders, and officials who expressed anti-Semitic opinions, slurs and the like in public (at least 15 during 2013), were forced to resign, or did so on their own accord.
The second conclusion is that anti-Zionism, which is rampant in the west, the rise of right-wing extremist parties (each having its own wider agenda), the economic crisis that started already in 2008 – these factors cannot explain the present level of anti-Semitism, the report stipulates. No large scale military conflict occurred between Israel and the Arabs in 2013, or an attack such as the one on the Toulouse Jewish school in March 2012 that generated a wave of more violence. The report’s conclusion on the tidal wave of anti-Semitism is that the present anti-Semitic phenomenon is not dependent on external events. “In short, what we witness in 2013 is classic ‘net anti-Semitism’ per se,” says the report.