Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Anti-Semitism in the EU, and the EU response to it.

Date: Wednesday 14 April 2004
Subj: Anti-Semitism in the EU, and the EU response to it.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal

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ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE EU
- and the EU response to it.

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The European Union (EU) still appears unwilling to acknowledge the findings of its own reports. Last year the EU-sponsored report into anti-Semitism in the EU was shelved, citing data collection irregularities, after it reported that the majority of anti-Semitic attacks were being perpetrated by Muslim youths. A new report was commissioned. However this produced the same conclusion that Muslim youths are increasingly responsible for anti-Semitic violence in the EU.

This year the language was softened and the issue of the identity of the perpetrators was either avoided or smoothly glossed over. The report states, "It is not any more the extreme right that is mainly responsible for hostility towards Jewish individuals and property. Varying proportions of victims of hostility classified perpetrators to be 'young Muslims', 'people of North African origin', and 'immigrants'". Yet this finding is written-off with a reminder that this is merely the victims' "perception" and cannot be verified, certainly not on official records. (Executive Summary, page 25; Conclusions, page 319.)

The EU Monitoring Centre for Xenophobia and Racism (EUMC) released to the media a 22-page summary that actually presented a contradictory finding. Hence media across the world have reported that the perpetrators of anti-Semitic acts in the EU are primarily "young, disaffected white Europeans" - the opposite of the actual finding of the report. This false reporting is deeply troubling.

Anti-Semitic attitudes and attacks are escalating at an alarming rate, while those who disseminate anti-Semitism and fuel or perpetrate anti-Semitic acts are being protected with a cloak of invisibility. This must end, because impunity equals permission, and if anti-Semitic attacks are permitted to escalate at this rate then the future looks truly horrifying - like something we vowed we would never let happen again.

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BLATANT FALSE REPORTING

The EU-commissioned report entitled "Manifestations of Antisemitism in the EU 2002-2003", by the EU Monitoring Centre for Xenophobia and Racism (EUMC) was released in late March 2004. (Link 1)

The 22-page summary released to the media states, ". there has been an increase in antisemitic incidents in five EU countries, (Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK). These incidents ranged from hate mail to arson. In some other countries there has been little evidence of increase in antisemitism. Although it is not easy to generalise, the largest group of the perpetrators of antisemitic activities appears to be young, disaffected white Europeans. A further source of antisemitism in some countries was young Muslims of North African or Asian extraction. Traditionally antisemitic groups on the extreme right played a part in stirring opinion."

Generally speaking, the world's media took this and ran with it, seemingly ignorant of the fact that it contradicted both reality and the EUMC report itself.

The BBC reported (Wednesday 31 March 2004) "Attacks against Jews in Europe have sharply increased, says a report by a European anti-racism watchdog. The study singles out Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Britain, where it says the rise in anti-Semitism has been of particular concern. Other countries, including Ireland and Portugal, showed little sign of any rise in attacks, the report says.

"It identifies 'young, disaffected white Europeans' as the key culprits followed by North African or Asian Muslims."

On 1 April, The Hindu published an article entitled, "White males blamed for attacks on EU Jews." It stated: "Brussels, April 1. (GUARDIAN NEWS SERVICE): Attacks on Jews have increased in five EU countries in the last two years with white males rather than Muslims being blamed for many of them, according to a report published yesterday.

"The study by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) contrasted with the controversial findings of research carried out in Berlin last year, which said young Arabs and Muslims were mainly responsible for rising anti-semitism."

JEWISH GROUPS OUTRAGED

Jonathan Fisk commented on 1 April, "A long-awaited report on European anti-Semitism confirms that it is a growing problem across the continent - but dances around the politically sensitive question of who is responsible. The 344-page report by the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia, or EUMC, details a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and England. Physical assaults are absent or rare in Greece, Austria, Italy and Spain, the report found, but anti-Semitic discourse is virulent there as well.

"Those findings are unlikely to surprise observers who have watched a rash of anti-Semitic outbursts spread across Europe since the Palestinian intifada began in September 2000.

"More surprising was the almost passing reference made to the perpetrators. Newer actors such as immigrant Muslim youth are mentioned in the report, but an EUMC press release accompanying the report sought to highlight the role of more traditional sources of anti-Semitism, such as far-right groups and skinheads." (Link 2)

Regarding the contradictory statements made in the media summary, Jonathan Fisk quotes Elan Steinberg, executive vice president of the World Jewish Congress as protesting, "After the scandal of the previous report, the EUMC has compiled an impressive quantitative analysis that shows an unprecedented wave of anti-Semitism in Europe. But they studiously avoid going into the causes of the anti-Semitism; you're almost left with the impression that it occurred from outer space. It's an intellectual whitewash and an instance of moral cowardice."

Fisk also quotes Serge Cwajgenbaum, secretary general of the European Jewish Congress, "It's contradictory that the EUMC puts an emphasis on 'white, right-wing perpetrators,' whereas the report reveals that the majority of attacks in most countries are committed by young Muslims of North African origin. How can we effectively fight anti-Semitism when we refuse to identify the true perpetrators?"

ARAB ANTI-SEMITISM

A brilliant Special Report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) entitled "What is Arab Antisemitism?" draws this conclusion: "Arab antisemitism must be closely monitored and its many manifestations translated and exposed, in the hope that exposure will lead to international protests and diplomatic pressure on the states guilty of propagating it."

This MEMRI report is highly recommended for anyone wanting to understand contemporary Arab anti-Semitism.

MEMRI "What Is Arab Antisemitism?"
By Menahem Milson, 27 February 2004

Another excellent summary and analysis is by the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity (ISIC - an arm of the Barnabas Fund). ISIC Briefing 12 November 2003
"Mahathir Mohamad and Muslim Antisemitism."

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After all the Country Reports, Part 2 of the EUMC "Manifestations of Antisemitism in the EU 2002-2003" report focuses on "Evaluation of National EUMC-RAXEN Data on Antisemitism". The Conclusions are detailed from pages 318-326.

THE EUMC RAISES SERIOUS QUESTIONS AND ISSUES

On page 319 we read, "There is evidence to support the view that there is a link between the number of reported antisemitic incidents and the political situation in the Middle East." This is of course a simple observation.

On page 323 however, we read, "Another topical issue with regard to contemporary antisemitism is the influence of the crisis in the Middle East on both attitudes towards Jews and hostile acts directed against Jews."

This statement comes without qualification or explanation and is therefore contemptible. Such an unqualified statement subtly implies, or yields to the propaganda, that "the crisis in the Middle East" is responsible for anti-Semitic attitudes and hostility and may even therefore ultimately justify them.

It is well known that the situation in the Middle East is regularly used as an excuse for anti-Semitic attitudes and actions. However it should be noted that we are not seeing evidence that Palestinian and Arab Islamist terrorism against Israeli civilians in the Middle East is producing hateful, aggressive, violent and destructive Jews in the EU (and we don't expect to). So to blame "the crisis in the Middle East" is quite unfair and misdirected. As far as the Middle East goes, it is anti-Semitism that is an obstacle to peace, not the other way around.

Likewise, we read in the Executive Summary, "What should not be considered as antisemitic and therefore does not have to be monitored under the heading 'antisemitism' is hostility towards Israel as 'Israel' i.e. as a country that is criticised for its concrete policies."

This is a very delicate area. It is often said that Jews worldwide are hostages to Israeli policies (which are by implication bad). I fear however that the real situation is that Israel is hostage to pervasive and widespread anti-Semitism.

It is this anti-Semitism that denies Israel the right to exist and defend herself. It is this anti-Semitism that will, without making any demands on any Arab leaders, make Israel the Middle East's, and even the world's scapegoat. Through this anti-Semitism Israel is demonised and contempt for her is then used to justify the expression of anti-Semitic attitudes and acts.

Some criticisms of Israeli government policies (standing out as they do against a background of silence regarding Arab policies) are rational and reasonable - most however, are not. They are pure anti-Semitism dressed up in political garb.

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Serious questions were raised on page 323 under the main heading,
"Proposals for Data Collection and Research".

The report states that there are two separate manifestations of anti-Semitism:
1) "ideological and symbolic antisemitism as represented in political and media discourses, literature and public attitudes towards Jews";
2) "concrete incidents directed against individual Jews or Jewish organisations".

The reports then questions whether these two manifestations are connected or related. The report states that the issue needing to be addressed is "how far these two strands are dependant or independent from each other".

The report then acknowledges that the EUMC report has not examined "the motivations of the perpetrators and the relationship between their acts and antisemitic attitudes and ideology".

The EUMC should certainly be encouraged to examine the ideology and motivations of the perpetrators. They should do this through independent research and analysis, not by seeking statements from Islamic and Arab propagandists. This may however result in another report that will be shelved for its lack of political correctness.

The EUMC might like to start by examining the educational materials used in Islamic schools in the EU, especially Saudi-funded schools, and Saudi-produced and disseminated Islamic educational materials.

The EUMC might also like to examine the virulent anti-Semitism being disseminated through Arab broadcasting and Arab Internet sites (for example, Link 3) including those of Arab Embassies (most of which have links to the Saudi government's Islamic Affairs Department).
Examination should be made of the rabid anti-Semitism preached from many mosques, especially Saudi-funded, Saudi-established mosques through out the EU.

If the EUMC does conduct such research, they might find that a poisonous anti-Semitism is infesting Europe's airwaves, Muslim communities, Islamic schools and media, creating and feeding antisemitic hate and directly and indirectly provoking antisemitic acts.

Antisemitism is a serious issue that requires a serious response. All must have equality before the law.

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Finally, here is an interesting article on immigration, demographics, the radicalisation of Europe's Muslims and the short-sighted attempts by European leaders to appease them. These things do help explain the rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic acts in the EU, especially in states with higher levels of Arab Muslim immigration.

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- Elizabeth Kendal

Links

1) "Manifestations of Antisemitism in the EU 2002-2003"
by the EU Monitoring Centre (EUMC) for Xenophobia and Racism.
http://eumc.eu.int/eumc/index.php

2) Report notes rise in anti-Semitism, but blurs question of
responsibility
by Jonathan Fisk, JTA, 12 April 2004
http://www.virtualjerusalem.com/news/lateststories/?disp_feature=5P8lNz.var

3) Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
"Former Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee Head Sets Out the Jews' 20 Bad
Traits As Described in the Qur'an" - for an on-line chat room on 22
March 2004.
http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=SD69104