Report of Anti-Semitic Incidents
As is customary every year, anti-Semitic incidents increase on April 20th, the day of Hitler's birthday. This year the date fell on the Passover holiday and the combination of both these events led to a relatively large number of anti-Semitic incidents.
Special mention should also be made of the shooting incident against members of minority groups in Pittsburgh, U.S.A. and the attempted arson of a synagogue in Erfurt, Germany. In our assessment, there seems to be a trend towards a continuation and even a certain increase in the severity of the incidents.
David Irving's libel case against Prof. Deborah Lipstadt ended this month in the complete defeat of the plaintiff, Holocaust denier Irving. The judge stated in his verdict that there was no doubt that Irving was a racist, a Holocaust denier and an anti-Semite.
Anti-Semitic Attacks and Incidents
U.S. - On 28 April, five persons were shot to death and another was fatally wounded during an hour long shooting spree which took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The attacker, Richard Scott Baumhammers, is a 34-year old lawyer. He acted out of racist motives, choosing his victims carefully. He killed his parents' Jewish neighbour in her own home, an Indian in a grocery store, two Asians in a Chinese restaurant and a black man in a karate school. The sixth victim who was fatally injured was of Indian origin. While on his shooting spree, Baumhammers fired at the Ahavat Ahim synagogue and shattered windows. He later fired shots at the Beit El synagogue and drew swastikas and the word 'Jew' on the synagogue walls. No one was hurt during the shooting at the synagogues. According to a witness, Baumhammers worked with composure and seemed calm during the shooting spree. He was arrested some 90 minutes after he began his deadly trip.
Germany - On the night between 20 April (Hitler's birthday) and 21 April, three youths belonging to a Neo-Nazi movement set fire to a synagogue in Erfurt, Thuringen in East Germany. They threw a Molotov cocktail at the synagogue's back entrance. Local residents succeeded in getting the fire under control, thereby preventing serious damage to the synagogue. A letter was left at the site which read 'This action was carried out for purely anti-Semitic reasons'. It was signed by a group called 'Die Scheilteltraeger' ('Those with hair parted on the side' - a hint at Hitler's hairstyle). Shortly after, the police arrested three suspects who admitted the act. Two of those arrested are known to the police and were already convicted in the past for conducting anti-Semitic/neo-Nazi activity.
France - On Saturday night, 24 April, there was a severe disturbance in the Lubavich hassidic synagogue in Paris due to an argument between worshippers and local Arab and black residents in which 17 worshippers were injured, one requiring hospitalization.
Denmark - On the night between 19 and 20 April, a Copenhagen synagogue window was smashed by an unknown person, apparently to mark Hitler's birthday.
Desecration of Jewish Cemeteries/Memorials
Sweden - On the night between 8 and 9 April, the old Jewish cemetery in Malmo, which contains ancient gravestones, was desecrated. Some 50 gravestones were severely damaged or destroyed. 156 gravestones were toppled over. There no abusive slogans on the graves.
Britain - On 19 April, the eve of Passover, 94 gravestones were damaged in the Rainsought Jewish cemetery in Manchester. No abusive slogans were found.
On 27 April, gravestones were smashed in the Edmonton cemetery in London.
Australia - On 8 April, a Jewish memorial was defaced in one of Sydney's eastern suburbs.
Greece - On 21 April, abusive slogans were drawn on the memorial to the Jews of Salonika in the city's synagogue and on a number of Jewish-owned shops. The slogans included 'Juden Raus', 'We Are Coming' and swastikas, signed by a Neo-Nazi organization called 'Harisi Ivgi' (Golden Dawn). This was the first time that the Holocaust memorial, which was dedicated in November 1997, was desecrated.
It was recently discovered that some of the gravestones in the Jewish cemetery in Athens were smashed.
Costa Rica - On 31 March, swastikas were drawn on the walls of the community center.
U.S. - On 28 April, a suspicious envelope was received by the president of the Jewish students 'Hillel' organization in Pennsylvania. The envelope contained white powder and a Neo-Nazi letter warning that the white powder contained poison. The police were summoned and evacuated the building. No poisonous material was found in the powder after examination.
Lithuania - Vitautus Sustauskas, the head of the Lithuanian Union for Liberty, known for his radical and anti-Semitic views, was recently elected mayor of Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania. Even after his elections Sustauskas continued making anti-Semitic statements.
Poland - Anti-Semitic declarations have recently been voiced openly or implicitly by politicians and clergy. Abusive slogans are written on walls and anti-Semitic literature is being distributed. An example of this is the wave of protest aroused by the decision of the elementary school in the town of Domzyn to name the school after the well-known Polish poet Jan Brzechwa, because of his Jewish origins.
Father Jankowski, former president Lech Walesa's priest, expressed anti-Semitic views in his public sermons and declarations. He is one of the spokesmen of anti-Semitic circles in Poland.
Anti-Semitic and anti-Gypsy expressions were discovered on the wall of a Jewish cemetery in Oswiecem in southern Poland. A short time later, however, a group of local media personnel erased the slogans.
Russia - On 7 April, unknown persons drew anti-Semitic slogans on the entrance to the University of Pskov. Some of the slogans were directed against Lev Shlosberg, the local leader of the Yabloko party and one of the founders of the university.
Canada - On 22 April, the 'Globe and Mail' newspaper published an anti-Semitic article written by the British journalist John Lloyd who also writes for the 'New York Times'. The article published is severe and the Canada-Israel Commission (CIC) is considering complaining to the Press Council in Canada.
Ivory Coast - The 'Le National' newspaper published attacks on Mrs. Ouattara, the wife of the presidential candidate from the RDR party, Alassane Ouattara, because of his Jewish origin. These attacks appeared with the title, 'It's unbelievable, but true: a Jewish woman on the Ivory Coast electoral list' ('Incroyable mais vrais: une juive sur les listes electorales de Cote d'Ivoire'). In response, the Olped journalists' umbrella organization which supervises propriety in the media, claimed that the article's title incited to xenophobia.
Britain - On 16 April, the Central Synagogue in London received anti-Semitic phonecalls.
On 26 April, a threatening letter with the name of the Combat 18 organization was received by a Jew in London.
On 4 April, the editor of the 'Jewish Chronicle' newspaper received an anti-Semitic letter from a man claiming to be a Nazi.
A number of Jewish families received anti-Semitic phonecalls/announcements.
On 22 April, skinheads shouted out anti-Semitic remarks while driving past the Heaton Park Hebrew Congregation synagogue.
Australia - On 11 April, a pamphlet on 'The Crimes of the Jews Against Humanity' was distributed in the streets of Sydney.
Some 70 announcements of a Holocaust memorial service were torn down and destroyed in an academic institution in Melbourne.
Accusing mail, which also included a news magazine of the Australian Revolutionary Movement and Holocaust denial material, was sent to a number of private homes in Brisbane. Anti-Semitic mail was also sent to the Queensland news website.
Accusing threatening mail was sent to a Jewish organization in Sydney, a Jew in Melbourne and the community organization.
A Sydney newspaper received accusing threatening mail from the organization 'White Aryan Freedom Fighters Enforcing Nordic Social Standards' (Waffen SS).
Britain - On 11 April, at the trial of David Irving against Prof. Deborah Lipstadt and the Penguin publishing company, the judge ruled against David Irving. Irving's defeat is extremely significant as he is currently the world's most prominent Holocaust denier. A different verdict could have been interpreted as giving legitimacy to Holocaust denial in general. The British judge's verdict was published in the world press. Among other things it was stated that Irving rewrites history according to his political outlook and that he is a 'Holocaust denier, a racist and an anti-Semite'.
France - The Jewish Students Union of France (Union Des Etudiants Juifs de France - UEJF) and the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism LICRA, filed a suit against the Internet giant 'Yahoo' which is based in California for hosting a site and offering the auction of Nazi articles which is considered illegal in France.
Lithuania - On 27 April, the Vilnius district court decided to renew the trial of the 92-year old war criminal Aleksandras Lileikis despite his absence due to his state of health.
On 25 April, a Lithuanian court decided to reopen the trial of the war criminal Kazys Gimzauskus. Gimzauskas had American citizenship and has not yet been deported from the U.S. He is accused of assisting the Nazis in killing Jews.
The Lithuanian authorities are trying to find ways to prevent the leader of a Neo-Nazi group and the mayor of Kaunas from making anti-Semitic statements.
Poland - 37-year old Polish professor Ariusz Ratajczak who was found guilty in December 1999 of Holocaust denial in his book 'Dangerous Topics', was dismissed from Opole university and prohibited from teaching anywhere for the next three years.
Polish prime minister Leszek Buzek promised the human rights association The Open Republic Association Against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia that he would take severe steps against the sale of anti-Semitic publications at newsstands.
Adam Milsky, the owner of the company that received the right from the Oswiecem municipality to open a discotheque, announced that due to world opinion he had decided to forego the plan.
Russia - The Russian police recently arrested 12 members of the Russian National Unity neo-Nazi organization following information that one of the leaders of the organization's branches in Omsk has close ties with the Mafia.
Romania - Jewish leaders in Romania called on the government to act against the Legionnaires movement as it spreads racism. The movement controlled Romania during World War II and led pogroms in which thousands of Romanian Jews were killed.
Brazil - On 6 April, the 'Correio Braziliense' newspaper published that the Federal Supreme Court had found Siefgried Ellwanger, a write and publishing house owner, guilty of racism and incitement to racism and sentenced him to two years in prison. In his book called 'Holocaust, Jews or Germans and the Lies Behind the Scenes', Ellwanger maintains that the real victims were the German and denies that six million Jews were murdered and that there were death camps.
Switzerland - The Swiss revisionist historian Gaston Armand Amaudruz was put on trial in Lausanne for denying the Holocaust and breaking anti-racism laws. He was sentenced to one year's imprisonment.
Australia - Two Australian Jewish organizations called on the Australian government to reopen the investigation of Antanas Gudelis of Lithuania who is suspected of war crimes. The request followed the broadcast of a documentary film in which people testified that Gudelis gave orders to murder Jews in Lithuania during World War II and was involved himself in brutal acts.
Canada - The B'nai B'rith Organization of Canada openly opposed the Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Border companies for publishing anti-Semitic books such as the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' over the Internet.
Austria - On 10 April, the leader of the Socio-Democrat party in Austria apologized and admitted that his party had erred in adopting former Nazis and promoting them, out of a desire to become a decisive political power in Austria. It also called on other parties in Austria to re-examine their pasts and to enable a public debate on the mistakes made by their forgiving approach towards Nazis in order to receive their votes.
Chile - The Neo-Nazi Congress organized by the Homeland New Society movement (Patria Nueva Sociedad - PNS), which is led by Alexis Lopez, was held in the city of Con-Con between 17-19 April. The congress was opened despite Lopez's arrest for passing bad checks. Only six persons participated in the congress whose goal was to form common ideological stands between the PNS and other Neo-Nazi organizations.
Austria - The Austrian government decided to cancel a delegation of Austrian youths to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem as part of their national service because it was 'preferable that they help old people and the handicapped in Austria'.
Lithuania - The Catholic Church in Lithuania expressed regret that it had not done enough to prevent the massacre of some 220,000 Jews during the Nazi occupation between 1941 and 1944. The Archbishop of Lithuania signed the Church's official apology.
Czech Republic - A memorial plaque to thirty Jews who perished in concentration camps during the Holocaust was unveiled on 25 April in the town of Petrovice.
President Havel said that in his opinion the publication of 'Mein Kampf' should not be prevented. According to him the book should be in libraries for study and learning lessons for the future. The publishers should only be prevented from making profit on the distribution of the book.
Poland - The Polish News Agency reported that the first institute for Holocaust research in Eastern Europe will be opened in October 2000 at Gdansk University. The appointed director of the institute, Prof. Henryk Szabala said that in addition to research on history of the Holocaust, the institute will be occupied with the history of relations between Poles and Jews.
China - The Xinhua Agency reported on 3 April that a Jewish cemetery had been opened in Harbin (the capital of the north eastern province Hei Long Jiang) which is considered the largest cemetery of its kind in Asia. The opening marked the traditional Chinese holiday 'Tomb Sweeping Day' where families of the deceased visit the graves of their relatives once a year.
Japan - The Auschwitz Peace Museum was opened in the city of Shiotani, under the patronage of the Auschwitz Polish National Museum. The exhibition included photographs and drawings.
Russia - Part of Hitler's skull containing a bullet hole was exhibited in a special exhibition held in Moscow to mark 55 years of the end of World War II.
Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry