Anti-Semitism, Circa 2010
The Auschwitz Death Camp was liberated on January 27, 1945. This is the date on which the world commemorates the attempted Nazi genocide of the Jewish people and the ongoing struggle against anti-Semitism.
At a press conference at the Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem on Sunday, the Annual Report of the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism was presented in preparation for Thursday's commemoration. L In eaders in the subject of Diaspora affairs summarized trends in worldwide anti-Semitism. Present were Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, and Chairman of the JAFI Task Force on Anti-Semitism Amos Hermon.
The three agreed that “classic” anti-Semitism was statistically somewhat less common in 2010 than in 2009, when after Israel's anti-terorist Cast Lead Opeation in Gaza, Jew hatred reached record heights, but they warned of insidious new forms of anti-Semitism that allow hatred to go unchallenged. The campaign of deligitimization and demonization of Israel is the major threat against Jewish communities today, while extreme Islam has adopted a Nazi ideology.
The number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2010 is higher by tens of percentage points as compared to the level during the 1990s, so that overall anti-Semitism as a phenomenon is getting stronger even if 2010 saw a drop compared to 2009.
This is expressed in propaganda and anti-Semitic incitement, spray painting of swastikas and hate slogans, physical violence against Jews, attacks against Jewish institutions and facilities, damaging tombstones, inflammatory political statements and attempts at terror attacks.
Surveys carried out in Europe show that a third of the continent’s population holds negative opinions towards Jews and that people allow themselves, more than in the past, to express themselves publically against Jews. Even though in many countries there is awareness of anti-Semitism and there is ongoing activity to combat it, it seems that this awareness does not have an influence on the level of anti-Semitism among the public. The violent anti-Semitism in the field is carried out by a very small segment of the population, but is supported by ever-growing segments of the population both in the Muslim world and the West.
The report also shows that the danger to Jewish communities posed by Muslim communities around the world is palpable. Physical attacks against Jews and Jewish facilities are carried out on a daily basis, mainly in Western Europe. A few of the incidents in 2010 which stand out: attacks thwarted in U.S., India and Turkey, bomb attacks against Jewish institutions in Kyrgyzstan, Egypt, France, Germany and Belgium. Anti-Semitic incidents were also seen in Sweden, the synagogue in Malmo becoming a target for attack.
The major strategic threat against the State of Israel and Jewish communities in 2010 is the campaign of deligitimization, denying Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. The blurring of lines between legitimate criticism of Israel and demonizing the State of Israel has turned into a threat not only to the State of Israel but also to the Jewish communities around the world.
This year saw a continued escalation of delegitimization activity led by anti-Semitic, Palestinian and extreme left organizations. The most obvious incident is the Turkish flotilla in May 2010. In most countries, the demonstrations organized against Israel on this matter did not become violent against the Jewish communities. The exceptions to this were recorded in France and Austria: in France there were 15 violent attacks recorded against Jews, including an attack against a young Jew in the Paris subway, stones thrown at the Habad emissary and Molotov cocktails hurled at a Jewish old age home. In Austria were 17 attacks following the flotilla, five of them violent.
A trend which is on the rise in 2010 is the use of Nazi ideology by extreme Islamic elements. Besides the infamous Holocaust denial, this year saw the propagation of the idea of the Holocaust being a phenomenon to be imitated. The Holocaust as part of a series of incidents in which European Jews are murdered for their crimes has become legitimate parlance in Arab circles.
Another phenomenon that can be seen is the “modern blood libel” that began in 2009 in Sweden, when Israel was accused of harvesting organs from Palestinians. This year, the blood libel found expression in Ukraine, Algeria, Haiti, Kosovo and the Maldives. A delegation of ophthalmologists that recently went to help the local population in the Maldives were met with demonstrations, flag burning and calls for the expulsion of doctors who were seen as having come to harvest organs.
Iran continues to be an additional center for the propagation of anti-Semitism: the Iranian regime continues to see anti-Semitism as a strategic weapon against Israel, leading various groups towards anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity, mainly in Europe and Latin America. Besides activity of the leftist and Islamic organizations, this year there was a marked increase in Iran’s links with organizations of the fascist extreme right, including neo-Nazis in Hungary, Greece, France and Chile. In Chile, for instance, a neo-Nazi group caught trying to carry out a violent act against Jews was found to be working under Iran’s direction.
Also seen this year was a rise in strength of the extreme right in Germany, Austria, Greece, Sweden and Hungary, where the extreme rightist party JOBBIK won 47 parliamentary seats out of 386. In Slavic countries of the CIS this year, there was the same low number of anti-Semitic incidents. The situation of Jewish communities in the Muslim countries of the CIS continues to be sensitive, dependent on the stability of the secular regimes. So, for instance, in response to the political turnaround in Kyrgyzstan, anti-Semitic feelings were aroused. A bomb was launched at the synagogue building in Bishkek during the High Holy Days and anti-Jewish slogans were painted on the walls.