Anti-Semitism Doubles in 2009

Many attribute it to Israel's response to the Kassam rockets from Gaza - but experts say that's just an excuse for "pre-organized anti-Semitism."

Hillel Fendel and Yoni Kempinski , | updated: 3:33 PM

Presentation of 2009 Antisemitism Report
Presentation of 2009 Antisemitism Report
Israel news photo: Yoni Kempinski

There was an average of 3.1 violent anti-Semitic incidents every day around the world.
The year 2009 was the worst in terms of anti-Semitism in at least 20 years, according to the annual report prepared by the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University.

The report, presented in Jerusalem on Sunday, was prepared in conjunction with the European Jewish Congress.

The number of violent anti-Semitic incidents jumped by more than 100 percent, from 559 in 2008 to 1,129 in the year just passed – an average of 3.1 incidents every day around the world.

It appears that Israel’s counterterrorism Operation Cast Lead in January 2009 had much to do with the rise, and in fact the number of anti-Semitic incidents registered worldwide in January were higher than in any month since then. The numbers remained relatively high all year, however – and many in the Institute feel that Operation Cast Lead was merely an “excuse.” See video below.

The largest increase in anti-Semitic incidents was registered in Great Britain, where anti-Semitism as measured in violence more than tripled -- from 112 incidents in 2008 to 374 in 2009.  In France, the number rose from 50 to 195, and in the United States from 98 to 116. In Canada, there were only 13 incidents in 2008, thanks to what the report called “extraordinary protection on Jewish institutions,” which snowballed ten-fold to 138 in 2009.

In Russia and Ukraine, the number was down by 15 percent, from 68 to 58.

Some countries were “introduced” to anti-Semitism in 2009. Brazil and Austria had no incidents in 2008, but saw 15 and 22, respectively, in 2009. Similarly, Norway’s numbers rose from 1 to 6.

In addition, there were many hundreds of verbal and other violence, threats, insults, graffiti, and anti-Semitic rallies and the like. Many incidents are assumed to have gone unreported, for various reasons.

Prof. of History Dina Porat, who heads the Roth Institute, told INN TV in the above video, “This past year was much worse than ’08; it started with Operation Cast Lead (OCS), but we had the feeling that matters were pre-planned and pre-organized before OCS even began. There was a certain readiness as if they were waiting for a signal, and that signal was OCS, and when [the anti-Semitism] started, it was like breaking loose – you could see demonstrations with the same banners and slogans and the comparisons to the Holocaust and Nazis all over, and with the same anti-Semitic overtones.

"So we had the feeling, which was corroborated by the facts, that the radical left (sometimes with Jews and former Israelis – this is very disturbing) worked together with the radical Muslim leadership, using anti-Semitism and the Holocaust as political tools, to make Israel as a Jewish state into a political target.” Although the extreme-right remains a significant force in perpetrating anti-Semitic attacks, most violent cases during 2009, especially in Western Europe, were carried out by Arabs or Muslims.

Kantor: Right and Left are United
Speaking at the event on Sunday, Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, noted that “when it comes to the Jews or the Jewish State, both extremes [right and left] are almost mirror images in their expressions of hate and their goals to eliminate the Jewish presence and influence. Even more astonishingly, some of these organizations, which oppose each other on all other issues, are actually coordinating on the one issue that they can unite on – hatred of Jews and Israel.”

Not Looking at It Won't Make it Go Away
INN TV asked Prof. Porat: “Do you sometimes feel that you’re giving [the anti-Semites] too much power by reporting on their actions? Perhaps they should be ignored? Or is there a balance that you try to keep?”

“No,” Porat answered emphatically. “This perhaps was the Jewish reaction in the past, but it’s certainly not the way we deal with it now. We face anti-Semitism squarely; it won’t go away just because we don’t look at it.”

The Institute finds that anti-Semitism has been on the rise for nearly two decades, and points to a number of explanations, including Islamic propaganda, competition for attention amidst a flood of information, and ignorance and superficiality among youths seeking symbols, who have since concluded that Zionism and Jews stand for evil.