Report of Anti-Semitic Incidents
During January 2001 the trend of frequent incidents against Jewish communities continued. Conspicuous was the number of attacks against Jewish individuals.
The involvement of Islamic/Arab elements in anti-Jewish activity was also prominent.
Holocaust Day was commemorated in January in many countries. In some, this was the first year that it was celebrated.
Anti-Semitic Attacks and Incidents
During the night between 2-3 January, an explosion occurred in the El-Al offices in Zurich. The entrance door was damaged by a small explosive charge. A group called 'Perspective Revolutionnaire' sent an announcement to the Swiss news agency SDA, assuming responsibility for the attack in protest against the occupation and the harm done to the Palestinian People.
Comment: Even though this attack was directed against an Israeli target, it is included in the report as the element assuming responsibility is a radical left-wing organization and due to the nature of the attack.
On 21 January, two young Arabs knifed a Jew, who was wearing a skullcap. The young man received a cut on his face. The incident occurred in the Jewish quarter in the center of Strasbourg next to the Central Synagogue.
On 31 January, in the Jewish quarter of Strasbourg, a young Jew wearing a skullcap was attacked with a knife by three Arabs while he was doing his morning jogging. The young man received a cut on his arm.
During the night of 21-22 January, stones were thrown at the synagogue in Bagneux, next to Paris and a window pane was smashed.
On 25 January, six 15-year-old pupils were attacked at the Jewish JFS school in London, while on their way to the train station near their school. They were attacked by 7-8 boys of their own age. One pupil was struck in the face with an umbrella and required hospital treatment.
On 29 and 30 January, windows were smashed at the South and Westcliff synagogue in Essex.
On 13 January, a window was smashed in the Cockfosters and New Southgate synagogue, possibly by a shot from an air rifle.
On 10 January, at night, the former rabbi of the Berlin Reform community, was beaten in one of the underground stations in Berlin. The rabbi intervened when three young men, of oriental appearance began to harass the train driver. The young men understood that he was a Jew. They took his hat, struck the rabbi in the face and broke his glasses. A Palestinian youth about 15 years old was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the incident.
On 16 January, two Israelis wearing skullcaps were beaten by two Palestinians in Stockholm. One of the Israelis required medical treatment.
On the night of 1 January, an unknown person torched the entrance door of the Temple Emanuel synagogue in Reno, Nevada. The fire was quickly discovered and extinguished. There was damage to the entrance. A year ago five skinheads set fire to the same synagogue with a Molotov cocktail.
The Habad synagogue in San Diego was attacked several times in January. Vandalism was reported on two occasions and on the third, on January 10, a synagogue window was smashed and a swastika was drawn on the synagogue entrance door.
In late December, a Molotov cocktail was thrown during the night at the eastern window of the Habad synagogue in Minsk when the synagogue was unattended. The synagogue guard succeeded in extinguishing the fire and no damage was caused.
Desecration of Jewish Cemeteries, Memorials and Synagogues
54 gravestones, some of them hundreds of years old, were desecrated in the Jewish cemetery in Alsace.
The memorial site at the Jewish cemetery in Pfinstberg was desecrated, apparently by radical right-wing elements.
Preceding the publication of her new book, Raymonda Tawil, Arafat's mother-in-law, granted many interviews in the French media. Tawil made statements denouncing the Jews over the 'France Culture' radio station: 'The Jews of France are conducting a media war in order to frighten the French people. This is the racism of French Jewry '. She attacked the Jewish lobby in the U.S. and its influence on American foreign policy. Following Tawil's strong statements, the CRIF issued an announcement denouncing the 'anti-Semitic, false and slanderous statements which are a call for hatred'.
On 17 January, youths belonging to the French Neo-Nazi organization GUD, entered Assas University in Paris and shouted anti-Semitic slogans.
On 4 January, at the entrance to a building containing the clinic of a Jewish doctor in Aulnay-Sous-Bois (next to Paris), anti-Semitic abusive slogans were written, such as 'Death to the Jews' and 'Hitler did not finish the job'.
The San Diego University of California (SCUD) acceded to the request of the Muslim Cultural Club, an Islamic culture club operating on the campus, to hold an 'Anti-Zionism Week' from 29 January to 2 February. Efforts by Jewish organizations to cancel the event were unsuccessful as this would be against 'freedom of speech'. During the event, Muslim lecturers delivered speeches against Zionism. The lecturers were paid by the university's Students' Council fund. During the week, the campus was flooded with pamphlets and leaflets, some of which compared Zionism with Nazism. This subject will be expanded in the February report.
In an article published by the Boston Globe on 6 January, the opposition of many Charlestown citizens in Boston to calling a bridge by the name of the Jew Leonard Zakim revealed anti-Semitic motives. Zakim, who had fought vigorously for citizen's rights and worked for the unity of all sectors of society, passed away last year. The affair aroused a public debate in Boston.
During the gubernatorial election campaign in Tyumen province, the outgoing governor Leonid Roketsky was accused of insinuating that there was a Jewish conspiracy against his rule. He therefore supported a nationalist leader and welcomed the dissemination of anti-Semitic articles in the local press. The local newspaper 'Pravda Tyumeni', known for its racist articles, defended the outgoing governor against what it defined as the 'Jewish connection'.
In an article published in the 'Argumenty I Fakti' newspaper, Vasily Shandybin, deputy member of parliament from the Communist party in the Bryansk province, was described as anti-Semitic and anti-Western. At a Worker's Day rally, during which copies of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" were distributed, Shandybin declared that 'Moscow was occupied by the enemy'.
The Orthodox Patriarch Alexey II sent his compliments to the editorial board and the readers of the newspaper 'Russkie Vestnik', the mouthpiece of the Russian Orthodox church, which is known for its anti-Semitic publications.
At a lecture given at a yearly event of the Russian Orthodox University in Moscow, Professor Kurnosov from the Ecology Department accused the Jews working in the government, the media and the business world of causing all Russia's problems. When he called on the Russian people 'to open their eyes' he was enthusiastically applauded.
On 22 January, the radical right-wing 'Legionnaire Movement' held a conference on 'Anti-Semitism - the Truth and the Lie'. Some 120 people participated in the conference, including young skinheads.
The governmental election committee rejected the candidacy of a Jew who had asked to run in the Sana'a municipal elections, which were to be held on 20 February, because the Yemen elections law permits only Muslim candidates.
Under the Komsomol Bridge in Minsk a drawing was discovered of a Star of David with the title 'This is the time to light crematoria'. Under the drawing was a swastika and the symbol of the Russian National Unity (RNU) movement, the largest right-wing movement in Russia.
The Attorney-General of the magistrate's court in Riga stated that the article 'The Jews Rule the World', which was published in the financial newspaper 'Business and Baltics", could not be considered racist. He said the subject was still under investigation but the file might be closed for lack of evidence.
Before the conference on tolerance which took place in late January in Stockholm, a Lithuanian parliament member, Vytautus Sustauskas, gave a television interview to Swedish television in which he slandered the Jews.
The 'Dagsavisen' newspaper reported that several complaints had been received on mail sent from Norway to Israel containing abusive anti-Semitic slogans.
Unknown persons drew dozens of swastikas on the streets of a town in western Germany. The police assessed this was a reaction to measures that had been taken against the radical right wing.
A German police officer suggested that an old Jewish couple, who were the victims of verbal anti-Semitic harassment by a group of young Neo-Nazis, be put into preventive custody, i.e. 'Schutzhaft'. (This term had been used during the Nazi period to send people to concentration camps). The affair aroused much anger in the German Jewish community and the police officer was required to apologize.
Drawings of swastikas were discovered in the UNAM University in Mexico City and on the road in Periferico.
In the Condesa quarter in Mexico City, inciting leaflets against Jews were pasted on public telephone booths.
Accusing racist and anti-Semitic statements were written in the Golden Book of the Berne municipality website.
In his speech to mark the 8th anniversary of the founding of the Adelaide Institute, (an anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial institute), the Institute director Frederick Toben expressed his Holocaust denial views and circulated them in the Institute's newsletter. He also published hate material on the Talmud.
On 21 January unknown persons shouted accusing slogans at a Jewish family who were riding a tram in Melbourne.
On 15 January, unidentified persons called Jewish organizations and made accusing remarks, following a public discussion on anti-racist legislation.
On 10 January, the Jewish Board office received Holocaust denial propaganda e-mail sent by the Institute for Historical Review (IHR).
On 14 January, the South Hampshire Reform Jewish Community received an abusive letter sent by the 'Islamic Assassins' containing a threat to destroy every Jewish and Zionist element.
On 20 January a Holocaust denial book was sent to Jewish schools in Newcastle.
On 23 January, swastikas were drawn on the walls of a shop in Edinburgh which contained an exhibit on Anna Frank. The words "Anna Frankenstein" were written.
On 25 January, an abusive letter was sent to a Lord of Jewish extraction. Attached to the letter was written material and photographs on Holocaust denial.
On 29 January, in the Stamford Hill district, a young man of eastern appearance tried to enter the yard of a Jewish school and was removed by the police. Two days later, the same person entered a Jewish owned shop and shouted abusive slogans.
On 30 January, an abusive anti-Semitic letter was sent by radical right- wing activists to the Portsmouth synagogue in Hampshire.
On 21 January, a meeting was held in Lvov to mark 'Unification Day'. Alongside the radical right-wing UNA-USO party flag, was a flag bearing the slogans 'The Zhids (Jews) are the hangmen of humanity' and 'Zionist-Jews destroyed millions of Ukrainians'. The authorities and the police did nothing to remove the anti-Semitic propaganda from the site.
The Yahoo company announced that it would stop offering abusive material and Nazi memorabilia for auction on its site from 10 January. This decision followed the judgement of a French court in November 2000 demanding that the Yahoo company block access to auction sites offering Nazi artifacts to French surfers. At the trial the Yahoo company's representative maintained that it was unable to block specific geographic areas and therefore decided to block all the areas. The memorobalia include medals, weapons, uniforms, official documents and other articles bearing swastikas and other symbols connected with racist groups. The person in charge of Yahoo's auction sites claimed that the court decision did not lead to a new policy in the company but raised the awareness of the subject and speeded up the company's decision not to profit from the sale of items which increase hatred and violence.
The Stockholm Conference for the Struggle Against Intolerance, held between 29-30 January, was a continuation of the Holocaust conference which had taken place in Stockholm a year ago. The conference dealt mainly with the subjects of intolerance, racism and anti-Semitism. A Swedish film was screened at the conference on Neo-Nazism in the country. Sweden's Prime Minister delivered a speech in which he noted the recent wave of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe. He emphasized the universal aspect of the Holocaust in that it could be perpetrated by others than the Nazis against non-Jews as well.
The Supreme Court in Karelia, a republic in north west Russia, outlawed the activity of the Russian National Union (RNU), the largest Neo-Nazi organization in Russia. Karelia is the third republic in the Russian provinces which has taken this action.
Agnes Burdova, the publisher of the Slovak version of 'Mein Kampf', was accused by the Attorney-General of supporting a movement which denies civil rights and individual freedom. If found guilty, Burdova is expected to receive 8 years imprisonment.
Following a struggle and pressure from Jewish organizations and human rights activists, two anti-Semitic newspapers were closed - 'Za Vilnu Ukrainu' in Lvov and 'Dzhereltze' in Kharkov. The latter was closed by court order. This is the first time in Ukraine the prosecutor won over an anti-Semitic element and caused the closure of a newspaper.
On 12 January, the court in Liepaja convicted Guntars Landmanis, a publisher of the anti-Semitic magazine 'Patriots', of incitement to racism and sentenced him to 8 months in prison.
On 18 January, a ceremony was held in the foreign language library in Moscow to inaugurate a memorial for Raoul Wallenberg. The memorial contained a plaque in memory of Wallenberg praising his brave actions in rescuing tens of thousands of Jews during the Second World War. The date of Wallenberg's death does not appear on the memorial.
In a ceremony held in "Yad Vashem", the Chinese diplomat Feng-Shan Ho who passed away three years ago was granted the title of 'Righteous Gentile'. The diplomat's children accepted the certificate and the medal in his name. Feng-Shan Ho was the Consul-General of China in Vienna from 1938 to 1940. He decided of his own accord to issue visas to Shanghai to Jews who had to present a visa to the German authorities in order to leave Austria. His secret was revealed only after his death.
Hungary's Jewish Confederation protested the appeal of MIEP - a Hungarian radical right-wing movement - to hold a retrial of Laszlo Bardossy. Bardossy was the head of the Hungarian government during the Second World War and was executed for war crimes and involvement in the death of hundreds of thousands of Jews. The MIEP leader defined the sacrifice of the life of Bardossy as the cornerstone for the construction of a new Hungary. The Radical Right has been trying for ten years to purge the name of Bardossy but this is the first time they have taken official action to this end.
A statue of Marshal Ion Antonescu, the Romanian ruler during the Second World War and an ardent supporter of the Nazis, is to be erected in Bacau. Antonescu was responsible for the death of over 250,000 Romanian Jews who perished during the period of his rule.
Commemoration of Holocaust Day
In several European countries (Germany, Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Lithuania and Poland), Holocaust Day was marked on 27 January, the day the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Allies in 1945. In all the countries, except Germany, this was the first time the memorial day was celebrated. In Germany, it was celebrated for the third time.
On 26 January, a special session of the German parliament sat to mark the 56th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by the Allies. During the session, President Johannes Rau delivered a speech and warned that Germany must not allow the Radical Right to once again come to power.
On 27 January, the main ceremony in Germany was held near the Reichstag building in the center of Berlin, at a site where a memorial to the Holocaust of European Jewry will be constructed. Thousands of people attended. Additional ceremonies were held throughout Germany. All flags flying over official institutions were lowered to half mast to mark Remembrance Day. Demonstrations against anti-Semitism were also held in Berlin. The Jewish community in Berlin held a meeting of Auschwitz survivors from all over Germany.
For the first time, the British government decided to mark the liberation of Auschwitz. This event took place in the shadow of diplomatic disputes and a protest by individuals and Jewish organizations against the British for expanding the framework of the Remembrance Day events to also include a reference to the tragedies of other nations. The main ceremony was held in Westminster, with the participation of Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chief Orthodox Rabbi of the Jewish community Jonathan Zachs and in the presence of Prince Charles who represented the Royal Family. Prince Charles also lit a candle in memory of the victims. Among the invited guests were survivors and representatives of all British political parties.
The British Secretary of State for the Home Department, Jack Straw, said Britain would try to educate the future generation to learn the necessary lessons from the Holocaust, 'as we are all partners in the war against racism, discrimination, cruelty and genocide'. The British education system devoted a week's study to the subject of the Holocaust and throughout the country various memorial ceremonies were held, with the participation of survivors, intellectual and various community leaders. The government has established a special website on the subject.
On the occasion of Holocaust Day, the Leicester municipal council decided to symbolically lift the 1231 ban on the Jews which prohibited them from living in the city.
Remembrance Day for Nazi victims was marked in Italy for the first time. The President of the Chamber of Deputies Luciano Violante called on Italians to remember Italy's responsibility in the Holocaust. He recalled the deportation of more than 7000 Italian Jews and the shame of the legislation of racial laws which the House of Representatives approved in 1928. President of the Senate Nicola Mancino criticized what he called the 'weakness of the civilian reaction' during the period when the racial laws were approved 'which paved the way for terrible actions'.
To mark the day the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated, some 1000 Auschwitz survivors and relatives of the death camp's victims gathered and marched along the railway line from the camp gate, in memory of the one and a half million people who lost their lives there.
Memorial ceremonies were held to mark the deportation of the Jews of the Opera quarter in Marseilles as part of the annual commemoration of the deportation of Marseilles' Jews. The local press noted that in light of the anti-Semitic incidents of recent months, it was necessary to recall that tragic period.
Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry