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

Thursday, April 8, 2004

COTE D'IVOIRE ON FIRE: WEST AFRICAN CHURCH AT RISK

Date: Thursday 8 April 2004
Subj: Cote d'Ivoire on fire: West African Church at risk.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


THE CONSEQUENCE OF ETHNIC/RELIGIOUS POLITICS:
COTE D'IVOIRE ON FIRE


The present situation in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is already a national tragedy. Dr. Alassane Outtara, the former Cote d'Ivoire Prime Minister who now heads the Rally of the Republicans (RDR) party, has played ethnic/religious politics for personal political gain. This has torn the nation apart along ethnic and religious lines and poisoned its spirit. The hostility and distrust is now so great, and the racial identification and Islamic zeal now so intense, that one wonders if a return to war is not inevitable. It is certainly impossible to turn back the hands of time. As the 29 March 2004 editorial in the Accra Mail (Accra, Ghana) rightly noted, nations should never start on this road of ethnic politics because once it gets going, "there is no stopping it until we have bled ourselves dry". (Link 1)

WEST AFRICA AT RISK

Cote d'Ivoire (officially 38% Muslim and 31% Christian, with full religious freedom) has been a haven of prosperity in West Africa and a safe, free and prosperous home-base for many mission
organisations. Since their 19 September 2003 coup failed, the political aim of the rebels has been to change the constitution so that all the immigrant workers in Ivory Coast (around 50% of the
total population and virtually all Muslims) can be naturalised, giving Cote d'Ivoire a clear Muslim majority that will then democratically elect a Muslim government (RDR) and Muslim president (Dr. Outtara). It is suspected that because the rebels have Islamist aims, they have international Islamist support. They certainly have good supply lines for weapons and funds. At a recent rally in the rebel stronghold of Bouake, rebel soldiers were guaranteed a salary.

If Cote d'Ivoire falls to Islamic domination through civil war or constitutional coup, it will destabilise all of West Africa along that ethnic religious fault-line that runs from the Sierra Leone/Liberia border in West Africa, east through Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, southern Chad, central Sudan, to Asmara, Eritrea on the Red Sea.

It is quite possible that if Cote d'Ivoire falls to Islam, then Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria will topple like dominoes, and Sudan might find a more radical anti-peace Islamist faction rising above Bashir. It is not unreasonable to suggest that by the end of this decade, the ethnic religious fault-line of West Africa could be pushed south into the Gulf of Guinea.

This may sound terribly alarmist. However, both Nigeria and Sudan have put down coup attempts in recent days. How much more motivation will Islamists have should Islamists succeed in Cote d'Ivoire? Also, Ivory Coast, Togo and Benin, with Muslim minorities of 38%, 24% and 20% respectively, are already members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), as is Nigeria (41% Muslim).

This belt from Liberia east along the coast through to and including Nigeria, is the non-Islamic, religious freedom, evangelical Christian growth and mission-sending stronghold of West Africa. If we look at things from a more cosmic perspective, there are more than just earthly actors interested in the destabilisation of this region of West Africa. As for earthly actors, there are Islamists, there are megalomaniacs, and there are career criminals, mercenaries and arms traders who make their living in the conflict industry.

NEIGHBOURING GHANA FEELS THE HEAT

Concerning Cote d'Ivoire, the Accra Mail 29 March editorial states, "What's happening in our western neighbour, Cote d'Ivoire is too close for comfort.

"Time was when we looked westwards with envy because Cote d'Ivoire, we thought, had all the best things going for her. If you wanted a drug you couldn't find in Ghana, you tried Abidjan. If it was a special spare part for your car which was not available in Ghana, you sent an SOS to Abidjan. If it was fashion trends, you sought inspiration from Abidjan. Indeed Ghanaians used to say that plantains and other food items from that country were bigger than the Ghanaian varieties.

"Then over night, all of that went up in gun smoke." (Link 1)

Pastor Archibald Ako-Nnubeng, the Administrative Secretary of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry in Ghana, has expressed his concern that Ghana is being caught up in the backwash of Cote d'Ivoire's ethnic and religious politics.

Pastor Ako-Nnubeng has appealed to Ghanaian Christians not to "follow the ostrich's principle of burying their heads in their church activities as if everything was right". Rather, he says, be
prayerful, especially for peaceful elections, because "no one is safe from the cyclone when it strikes".

The Ghanaian Chronicle reports, "Pastor Ako-Nnubeng urged allpoliticians to tone down their language to tolerate other peoples' views." Pastor Ako-Nnubeng's fear is that "ethnic polarization and incitement by people who should have known better is gradually pushing our dear Ghana towards the precipice of an abyss". (Link 2)

Ghanaians are certainly feeling the heat and becoming greatly anxious about their own future. Consider the words of a 5 April editorial in the Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra, Ghana): "Who would have ever thought that the Ivory Coast, the bastion of stability in West Africa would today descend into the darkness and chaos of petty ethnic politics?

"Who indeed, would have predicted a decade ago that beautiful Abidjan would one day become the scene of horrendous crimes against humanity - amid the beauty and splendour of its high-rise hotels, beautiful tree-lined avenues and truly magnificent private houses? And yet today, many have fled that beautiful city.

"And the only reason they fled was that a few unscrupulous politicians are playing the ethnic card for their own parochial interests.

"The Chronicle believes in the adage that when one's neighbour's house is burning, it is prudent to have buckets of water ready, just in case one's own house also catches fire." (Link 3)

THE FIRE SPREADS

The Ghanaian Chronicle's illustration of the burning house is exceedingly apt. Ghana is due to have elections in December 2004 and reports in Ghanaian media indicate that sparks of ethnic politics have already created heat in Ghana.

A Ghanaian Chronicle editorial on 25 March said, "The Chronicle thus finds it sad and disturbing that some politicians, desperate for power, are trying to play the dangerous ethnic game in order to gain votes in the impending parliamentary and presidential elections." (Link 4)

An article on Ghanaweb.com, 5 April 2004 entitled "Northerners urged to avoid divisive politics," reports, "Mr Andrew Awuni, Deputy Minister of Information, has urged residents and the people of Northern Ghana to eschew divisive politics. 'Let us be focused on what unites us as a people,' the forthcoming elections, notwithstanding."

This current trend towards ethnic politics by some politicians in Ghana, most notably the former Ghanaian ruler Jeremiah John Rawlings, should not surprise us as the ethnic politics and violence in neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire has been remarkably successful. The French-brokered, UN-supported peace deal for Cote d'Ivoire legitimized the violent action of the Cote d'Ivoire rebels and rewarded them with power-sharing. Also, the left-leaning international media has been overwhelmingly supportive of the rebels, often accepting and reporting their claims and grievances with great excitement but without analysis or investigation.

COTE D'IVOIRE REBELS PROVOKING CONFLICT

As for Cote d'Ivoire, the rebels who walked away from the government of national unity in September 2003, refusing to disarm and threatening a return to war, have been provoking confrontations with the Cote d'Ivoire security forces by defying a blanket ban on all political demonstrations that was imposed for security purposes.

An illegal, rebel-led demonstration in Abidjan on Friday 25 March turned ugly, resulting in injuries and official toll of 37 deaths. The rebels however, alleged hundreds of deaths and mass graves (without evidence), blamed the government, cried "oppression", and likened President Laurent Gbagbo (a Christian) to "Saddam Hussein", saying the international community should remove him.

The rebels then called upon their supporters to repeat the political demonstration. However, the rebel's supporters did not return to the streets of Abidjan. Sekou Kone, a rebel supporter, explained his reluctance to demonstrate again, "Our leaders should go into the street with us, to motivate us, instead of calling for marches where we are massacred and shot at," he said. (Link 5)

The rebel leaders have no doubt learnt that civilian deaths - especially when at the hands of security forces - will generate great international sympathy. It is a familiar scenario. Thankfully however, the rebel's supporters in Abidjan were not so willing to be sacrificed.

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The situation in Cote d'Ivoire is extremely serious. It truly is the first house on the block and it is burning. Every effort must be made to put this fire out quickly and decisively, and to seek the path to reconciliation, or peace, prosperity and religious freedom may just disappear from the southern coast of West Africa.


Links

1) Cote d'Ivoire: What Are the Lessons for Ghana?
EDITORIAL. Accra Mail (Accra) 29 March 2004
http://allafrica.com/stories/200403290672.html

2) Rev. Minister Warns Against Ethnic Politics
Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra) 5 April 2004.
By George Kyei Frimpong & Dominic Jale
http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/200404050709.html

3) Ethnic Politics - Matters Arising EDITORIAL
Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra) 5 April 2004
http://allafrica.com/stories/200404050707.html

4) Saying No to Ethnic Politics EDITORIAL
Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra) 25 March 2004
http://allafrica.com/stories/200403250408.html

5) Ivory Coast opposition stays home
CNN 30 March 2004
http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/africa/03/30/ivorycoast.ap/index.html

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

IVORY COAST: SITUATION GROWS CRITICAL

WEA Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 266 - Wed 07 Apr 2004

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IVORY COAST: SITUATION GROWS CRITICAL
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By Elizabeth Kendal

Ivory Coast (IC), a major producer of cocoa, coffee and tropical hardwoods, was once the most prosperous nation in all West Africa. A virtual open-door policy allowed people from all over West Africa to work in Ivory Coast. However, after four decades of uncontrolled immigration, half the total population now are Muslim immigrants. The rebels, who launched the September 2002 failed coup and have held the northern half of the country ever since, aim to change the constitution so that all immigrants can be naturalised. Ivory Coast, with the local population currently 38% Muslim and 31% Christian and enjoying full religious freedom, would then become a Muslim majority nation able to elect an Islamic government. Dr Outtara with his RDR Party has played the race and religion card for political gain, and in doing so has polarised IC along ethnic and religious lines.

IC president, Laurent Gbagbo, a Christian, has worked with his Prime Minister, Seydou Diarra, a northern Muslim, to implement the peace accords. The rebels however appear not to want peace. They want to control all of IC and to replace the president. The rebels walked away from the government of national unity in September 2003 and are refusing to disarm. They are now provoking confrontation with IC security forces by defying a ban on all political demonstrations. This could escalate dangerously. Rebel leader Guillaume Soro recently told a rally of 5000 rebel supporters in Bouake, central IC, that they would soon be able to pay rebel soldiers a monthly salary. He did not say where these funds would be sourced.

One of IC's biggest problems has been the quiet radicalisation of its Muslim population, particularly youths. Funded by oil profits, the Saudi Arabian drive to spread Wahhabi Islamist ideology globally has impacted IC through Saudi-sponsored Islamic schools (educating in Arabic) and scholarships for Muslim students to the Islamic universities in Cairo and Medina. This orthodox Islamist ideology has made Sharia law imperative for many Muslims, which is a global phenomenon.

During a two-year preaching ministry in the early 1900s, the dynamic Liberian evangelist William Wade Harris led possibly 100,000 West Africans to Christ, including many thousands of Ivorians. In the 1990s, the number of evangelicals in IC almost doubled. IC has been a model and haven of religious freedom, and a safe and prosperous launching place for mission into West and North Africa. If IC falls to Islamic domination it will be not only a national tragedy, but a tragedy for all West Africa and a serious threat to all African religious fault-line nations (Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Sudan). There is much at stake.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY:

* that through the troubles in IC, the churches will draw closer
together and the believers closer to God, and for their anxiety
and suffering to produce endurance, character, hope (Rom 5:3,4)
and a renewed, strengthened relationship with their Saviour.

* for President Gbagbo: for prayerfulness, for spiritual wisdom and
understanding (Colossians 1:9-14), for spiritual growth and
deepening dependence upon God.

* for God to end the rebellion, securing justice, preserving
religious freedom, safeguarding mission, and making way for
salvation to spring up and righteousness to grow (Isaiah 45:8).

'O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring an end to
the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure.' Psalm 7:9

Thursday, April 1, 2004

Anti-Semitism escalating in Canada

Date: Thursday 1 April 2004
Subj: Anti-Semitism escalating in Canada.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


While this report on anti-Semitism is centred around incidents in and material out of Canada, it really pertains to global anti-Semitism which has, in the words of a recent Canadian report, "taken root across the globe".

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ANTI-SEMITISM ESCALATING IN CANADA
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Every year since 1982, the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada has published the "Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents" which is "a summary and analysis of reported incidents of antisemitic vandalism and harassment." (Link 1)

The Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2003 Introduction states:

The principal causes for concern are four-fold.
* First, it appears that ingrained prejudices based on traditional antisemitic stereotypes are re-surfacing.

* Second, antisemitic messaging is being imported into Canada from abroad, sometimes in the guise of anti-Israel propaganda, but more often in less subtle ways over the Internet or through foreign language ethnic publications.

* Third, there are indications of a cross-pollination between fringe elements in the far Right and in the far Left, which borrow freely from each other's imagery and rhetoric, as well as from the motifs of the rejectionist front of the Arab world.

* Finally, the greatest threat to the security of Jewish community institutions is no longer from the neo-Nazi groups as in the past, but rather from elements linked to international terrorist groups.

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The Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2003 was released in mid March 2004, just as a rash of anti-Semitic attacks left Canadians soul-searching. In a 23 March editorial comment in the Globe and Mail entitled "Anti-Semitism's stain" it was reported, "Two weekends in a row of anti-Jewish vandalism in the Toronto area have suddenly brought an age-old hatred into stomach-churning display. The vandalism has confronted the city with the problem of how to deal with a hatred that will not die.

"Vandalism falls short of physical violence, but there is a palpable threat in the sort of sinister graffiti, replete with swastikas, that were spray-painted onto the front doors or cars of 13 Jewish-owned homes, recognizable by the mezuzah, or sacred scroll, affixed to the house. This past weekend, 22 Jewish graves were desecrated, as were a synagogue, a Jewish school and even a clothing-donation box. One Jewish group says the scope of the vandalism suggests a planned campaign."

Also on 23 March, Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com) Faith and Ethics reporter Leslie Scrivener quoted Mark Webber, co-director of the Canadian Centre for German and European Studies at York University, as saying that he believes the threshold of what is acceptable in conversation about Jews and Israel has been lowered. "It's more okay to be anti-Semitic - things that were perhaps thought 10 to 15 years ago are now said and done."

Lowering the bar on what is deemed unacceptable is not only immoral, it is exceedingly dangerous as the Globe and Mail editorial pointed out, "From 'polite' anti-Semitism to the ruder kind is no great distance."

The League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2003 reported the same trend. Not only has the incidence of anti-Semitic attacks doubled in the period between 2001-2003 (and this is estimated to represent around 10% of all cases as most go unreported), but increasingly, anti-Semitism is being tolerated.

Rochelle Wilner, National President of B'nai Brith Canada told Talon News, "[Over] the past few years, the bar has been raised on what victims themselves, as well as society in general, are prepared to tolerate. A process of desensitization, both within and outside the Jewish community, has meant that what was once seen as offensive and unacceptable is now being viewed as less serious and even routine. Visibly orthodox Jews in particular have come to view such harassment as inevitable." (Link 2)

On 23 March the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada released a statement condemning anti-Semitic attacks, and affirming "the dignity of all persons", "the biblical principles to love our neighbour and to affirm justice for all people" and the Biblical calling for Christians to be peacemakers.

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The Audit classifies anti-Semitic acts into three main categories - harassment (anti-Jewish propaganda, abuse and threats of violence), vandalism, and violence.

Violent attacks include that of "a visibly orthodox man who was viciously attacked with a hammer on the way home from synagogue" in Toronto in February 2003. He was not robbed, but he was left with brain injuries. Also in Toronto, in November 2003, "a series of anti-Semitic bullying episodes at a local public school targeting a Jewish student culminated in a physical assault against the victim." In Montreal "a visibly orthodox Jewish woman, returning from
synagogue, was beaten up by four men" in May 2003. Also in Montreal, "an elderly Jewish woman was beaten up in a park by two female teenagers of apparent Arab origin".

In the chapter entitled "The Context", the 2003 Audit details how anti-Semitism is occurring in several contexts, including "Right wing anti-Semitism", "Anti-Semitism of the Left", and "Global
Anti-Semitism", as well as in the media, on campuses, and in academia in general.

RIGHT-WING ANTI-SEMITISM

Canadian right-wing groups are rallying around the Holocaust denier Ernst Zundal, who was deported from USA to Canada in February 2003 and is presently battling with the courts in his efforts to achieve refugee status. The 2003 Audit reports, "Nazi symbolism was the predominant motif of the reported incidents of vandalism/graffiti in 2003." Hate propaganda messages such as "We the Aryan nations. Help rid Canada of the evil influence of the Jews", is disseminated through graffiti, literature and anonymous e-mail.

The Audit also reports that in 2003, there were four reports of "music hatefests" in Canada. "The Toronto Hate Crime Police Unit reports that 'organized hate groups maintained a presence throughout the year with at least three hate rock concerts and other activities.' In the same report, the Toronto police force also notes that 'web-based hate is very popular'.

"The US-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B'nai Brith has reported that antisemitic and racist rock music is a major recruiting tool and source of funding for hate groups. It is estimated that extremist companies sell millions of dollars of hate rock CD's over the Internet. Canadians can easily purchase these CD's in the same way. Many hate group members have been drawn to White Supremacist ideologies by listening to hate rock on the Internet, on CD's and at concerts featuring groups such as Angry Aryans, Blue Eyed Devils and H8Machine, as well as the Canadian group Numbskulls.

"Web message boards run by neo-Nazi or White Supremacist groups, such as stormfront.org and its Canadian link, appear to be widely used, providing a key source of communication and recruitment."

The report concludes, "It is clear that extreme right wing groups are becoming more devious in their efforts to recruit widely and infiltrate popular culture. They take advantage of Canada's democratic traditions of free speech and expression, at the same time as they attempt to find new ways of skirting the law."

LEFT-WING ANTI-SEMITISM

The Audit reports that "anti-Jewish rhetoric [is] increasingly emanating from the far left. This trend points to a progressively radicalized anti-globalist movement joining forces with Marxist, anti-American, and anarchist elements to vilify the Jews as the root of all the world's problems.

"Evidence of this new breed of antisemitism is reflected in the findings, discussed earlier, of the European Union-commissioned report "Manifestations of Antisemitism in the EU" (link 3), which blamed the upsurge in anti-Jewish acts on European Muslims and the European far left. So disturbing were the EU's findings that its Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia allegedly shelved the report when it found that Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups were implicated in many of the incidents.

"It should also be noted that the EU report documented high occurrences of extreme left-wing elements employing media and antisemitic stereotyping in their criticism of Israel to get their
antisemitic message across."

THE LEFT-RIGHT ALLIANCE

The 2003 Audit examines "the convergence between historically left wing and right wing opponents", made possible by their common hatred of Jews. This is illustrated with several examples. One trend noted is for anti-globalisation rallies to have "Palestinian flags flown alongside Marxist flags, as well as Israeli flags superimposed with swastikas. At these same rallies protesters carried coffins, which displayed photographs of U.S. President George W. Bush, and/or Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and/or that of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. . Thus, seemingly disparate agendas fused into one seamless anti-Israel and anti-Jewish message."

Jim Hauser, reported on the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2003 for Talon News. His article, entitled "Anti-Semitism on Rise in Canada" provides an excellent overview and analysis. (Link 2)

Hauser reports that the annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents "indicates several disturbing trends including an increase in the number of 'hate rock concerts' featuring musicians espousing Nazi principles, an increase in incidents perpetrated by Canadians of Mid-East decent against Jewish citizens, and the apparent alliance between Nazi and Mid-Eastern groups in instigating orchestrated actions against Jews."

The EU report, "Manifestations of Antisemitism in the EU", also noted this contemporary Nazi-Arab alliance, commenting, "Since the end of the 1990s there has been a dramatic increase in the number of homepages present on the web from far-right groups and parties, which quite often also have ties to radical Islamic fundamentalists." (p 9)

The EU report also notes "Holocaust denial" thought, that plays a central role in European right-wing extremism and propaganda, becomes employable ideologically for radical Islamist groups in their struggle against Israel. "Here a learning process has taken place in which 'revisionist' thought has been adopted by some people in the Arab world." (p10)

Of course there is nothing new about the concept of a Nazi-Arab alliance. Nothing unites xenophobic white supremacists and Arab Islamists like their shared rabid hated of Jews. This of course was most eloquently depicted by the co-operative relationship between the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Husseini (who was on the Nazi pay-role) and Adolf Hitler during the Holocaust.

GLOBAL ANTI-SEMITISM

Concerning Global Anti-Semitism the Audit comments, "The increasing instances of antisemitism worldwide do not occur in a vacuum, and are part and parcel of the prevailing global atmosphere that allows for such poisoned sentiment to take root.

"Today's antisemitism, characterized by its global resurgence, has spilled over into the social, political and cultural arenas of the world's nations. No longer merely a European phenomenon, antisemitism has, sadly, taken root across the globe."


- Elizabeth Kendal


Links
1) The League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada
http://www.bnaibrith.ca/league/league.htm

2) Anti-Semitism on Rise in Canada
By Jim Hauser, Talon News, 17 March 2004
http://www.talonnews.com/news/2004/march/0317_canada_antisemitism.shtml

3) Manifestations of anti-Semitism in the European Union
First Semester 2002
Synthesis Report
Draft 20 February 2003
http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasite/images/iht_daily/D281103/eu_anti_semitism_report.rtf