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Anti-Semitism:
2001 Report on Global Trends in Anti-Semitism


Anti-Semitism: Table of Contents | 2012 Report | 2002 Report


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- General
- Details
- Various Arenas
- Remarks
- Summary & Forecast

General

1. The year 2001 saw an increase in the number of anti-Jewish activities and the up-grading of their severity. This year radical Islamic activities against the Jews was accompanied by the resurgence of independent "traditional" antisemitism and cooperation between radical Islam and radicals from both the political right and the left. The anti-Jewish incidents and propaganda included virulent anti-Zionist messages and crossed borders and continents.

2. Two major events also had an affect on anti-Jewish activities as well in 2001: the continued Palestinian "Intifadah" which caused severe reactions in Arab and Muslim communities all over the world; and 11th September attack in the United States which issued in a new era for the attitude taken by various elements regarding among other issues the connection between terrorism and Israel's relations with the United States, and with all that that implies for the Jewish communities.

This document will deal with the trends and characteristics of anti- Jewish activity and will list the emphases in each of the geographical arenas.

 

Details

3. Major trends:

  • The year 2001 witnessed a turning point in the force and audacity of the activities in all the hostile arenas, but mainly in the Islamic arena and the Arab world. The serious nature of the incidents was expressed in the force of the propaganda and in attacks on Jews and Jewish property.
  • Particularly prominent was the link between the Middle East conflict and the attitude towards Jews all over the world.
  • Most of the incidents occurred in those places where there is a considerable Arab and Muslim population. The political positions of the various countries usually influenced the number of incidents themselves. Thus, in those countries where policy was unequivocally pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli the number of these incidents recorded during the year was relatively higher. The position of the authorities was examined in this context not only in relation to the Arab-Israeli conflict, but also in connection with their determination to take action against those who attack and harass members of the Jewish community. It has been proven that in those countries where strict preventive measures were taken, fewer incidents were indeed recorded.
  • Radical Islamists/Arabs and radical right-wing elements have drawn appreciably closer to each other in their operational activities. This is expressed in propaganda messages from the radical right, which adopted an extreme pro-Palestinian, anti- Israeli and anti-Jewish stand, as well as in other activities. Following the 11th September attacks, this trend gained impetus. A blatant example of this cooperation was the Holocaust Deniers Conference that was to have been held in Beirut in April 2001. The idea was initiated by a Swiss Holocaust denier residing in Tehran.
  • There has been an appreciable increase in anti-Jewish propaganda in the Arab states.

 

Various Arenas

4. As already mentioned, anti-Jewish activities have crossed borders and continents with varying degrees of force. It is clear that the countries in which the greatest number of incidents was registered are those with large Arab and Muslim populations. At the head of this list stands France, where dozens of incidents of attacks on Jews were reported in which, a wide variety of means were employed. France has a very large Arab immigrant population, from among which many took revenge on Jews for measures taken by Israel against the Palestinians. There were a great number of incidents which included physical attacks and attempted attacks against individual Jews at well known "neighborhoods" Jewish. Attacks including acts of arson, tossing of Molotov Cocktails, stone throwing and destruction of property against synagogues, schools, Jewish centers, cemeteries and the like. In addition, there were threats made using various means, constant propaganda against Israel and against Jews seen as identified with it. It should be noted here that for a very long time the French establishment preferred to ignore the anti-Jewish incidents. It was only after a number of serious incidents such as burning down a school in Marseille and attacks on Jews in Paris, that any kind of reaction was forthcoming and some comments were made in this connection. In was actually the French media that warned of what appeared to be an ugly wave of unbridled antisemitism.

5. France's neighbor, Belgium, also experienced a large number of extremely serious anti-Jewish incidents. Prominent among these incidents were those of physical violence against the Jews, among them the attack on the Chief Rabbi of Brussels at the railroad station in the city. The Belgian establishment's highly critical attitude towards Israel's policies on the West Bank and Gaza, and the attempts to bring Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to trial because of his "involvement" in the Sabra and Shatilla massacre in the Peace For Galilee Campaign, contributed to the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel atmosphere, and fueled the hatred and violent incidents against the Jewish community. In England a large number of incidents were recorded, originating within the radical Islamic community which is very active there.

6. In the United States and Canada, many incidents gave rise to feelings of concern within the large Jewish communities in those countries. After the 11th September attacks, radical right- wing elements joined ranks accusing Israel of responsibility for the attacks. Among other things, these groups justified the attacks because of the close ties between the American administration, Israel and the Jews.

7. In Australia, the number of incidents reported was large in relation to the usual number in that country. Here, too, the impression left by what is happening in the Middle East was also felt. An unusual number of incidents were reported in The Netherlands and Switzerland, where the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has given rise to attacks and attempted attacks against the Jewish communities in those countries. In Germany, a number of incidents were reported, but it is clear that the stringent measures taken by the authorities there designed to repress the phenomenon as well as the increased protection of Jewish institutions, cut the wave off before it could procede any further. In Denmark, the appointment of Mr. Carmi Gillon as ambassador to that country, gave rise to a wave of political and other utterances which created an anti-Israeli atomsphere, resulting in increased anti-Jewish activity there.

8. In Russia, anti-Jewish activities continued with no real connection to the Middle East conflict. The propaganda and the attacks against Jewish institutions continued in the pheriphery outside Moscow. In the CIS states there has been something of a moderation in anti-Jewish activities. Nevertheless, the publication of anti-Jewish propaganda and articles continues.

9. In the Eastern Euopean countries Hungary was prominent as a leader of anti-Jewish activities. The Miep Party, headed by Istvan Csurka, which is represented in Parliament, led a strong anti-Jewish line and did not mince words in its criticism of Jewish-Israeli control over major worldwide processes. In the other countries of the region a relatively small number of exceptionally violent incidents were reported.

10. The Latin American continent stood out this year in the relatively small number of anti-Jewish incidents of all kinds, in relation to other parts of the world. Exceptions to this were in both Chile and Brazil in which there was more activity of this kind than had been in the past, although it did not deteriorate into acts of violence against the Jewish community. Mention should also be made of the second attempt to convene a conference of neo-Nazi activists in Bolivia (the first attempt to convene the conference had been in Chile the previous year). The attempt failed in the wake of public and police action, and in the end only five people attended.

11. In South Africa, there was relatively little violent anti-Jewish activity. Nevertheless, this year will be recorded as an exceptional year in the wake of the United Nations Conference on Human Rights held in Durban in September. The Conference, reached a record high both in radical messages voiced there (especially in the course of the discussions by the non-government organizations, but also during the general Conference's discussions), and in the level of violence seen at the demonstrations held there. The major message included a comparison between Judaism/Zionism and racism, equating measures taken by Israel with Apartheid and the like. The Conference was characterized by the attempt the Palestinian made, abetted by some Arab countries to "highjack" the event, making Israel's attitude towards the Palestinians the focal point of the Conference. If so doing they prevented discussions of other issues which were the concern of the majority of the participants in the conference.

12. In the Arab world, propaganda was even more virulent, moving away from the usual anti-Israeli rhetoric to include anti- Jewish comments of similar virulence. The messages included comparing IDF soldiers and Israeli leaders to Nazis, the use of blood libels, and considerable use of Holocaust denial as a means of defaming Israel, Zionism and Jews in general. The dissemination of these messages was especially prominent in Syria, in a series of statements made by senior officials including that by President Bashar Assad during the visit of Pope John Paul II, to the effect that "Jews are traitors to the tradition of God the same as they were traitors to the tradition of Jesus Christ and the Prophet Muhammad". There were also the words of Syrian Defence Minister Mustafa Tlas, who called on every Muslim to kill one Jew, thus providing a solution to the problems in the Middle East as well as others created by the Jews. In Egypt and Jordan, virulent anti-Jewish messages, both voiced and written, appeared in the media, both establishment and non-establishment. This Arab propaganda made wide use of caricatures, some reminiscent of Nazi era propaganda. Of special note is the "satirical" program broadcast over Abu Dhabi television in which the Israeli Prime Minister was portrayed drinking the blood of Arab children.

13. In those Arab and Muslim countries which still have Jewish communities, the Jews felt threatened in view of the anti-Israel demonstrations that might have deteriorated into activities against the Jewish communities themselves. In Morocco there were relatively few incidents of attacks against the Jews. This escalation was prevented by an unequivocal statement by the King and forceful action on the part of the police. In Iran, despite the obvious animosity of the authorities towards the existence of Israel, no unusual incidents against the Jews were reported.

14. The issue of Holocaust denial was, as already mentioned, a major component of anti-Jewish propaganda, in Iran as well. Iran sponsored a Holocaust Denial Conference which was to have been held in Beirut in April 2001. The initiator of the idea was Swiss Holocaust denier who had found political asylum in Iran. The Conference was cancelled under pressure brought to bear by various countries on the Lebanese government. An alternative conference to the one which had been cancelled was held in Jordan under the heading of "Why was the Conference in Beirut Canceled"?

 

Remarks

15. In most regions of the world the level of anti-Jewish activities in 2001 (actually beginning with the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa intifadeh in September 2000) exceeded that of previous years. This was expressed mainly in attacks and attempted attacks against Jews carried out for the most part by Arabs and Muslims in various countries, and in the increased intensity of combined anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist propaganda. Anti-Jewish activities of the radical right has continued at the same rate as in previous years. Parallel to this, what surfaced in all its severity was the cooperation between various elements hostile to the Jews for various reasons of their own: the radical right as part of their antisemitic tradition and Arabs whose motivations are both religious and political. These two were joined by the radical left which expressed its basic hostility towards Israel and its support for the Palestinian cause through the use of anti- Jewish motifs. The ideological and practical basis for this cooperation was well defined by Bill Roper (one of the leaders of the radical right in the United States who said after the 11th September attacks when referring to cooperation with radical Arab elements "The enemy of my enemy is now my friend".

16. One of the more prominent characteristics of anti-Jewish activity is the greater daring of the attackers. In the course of the year we witnessed violent incidents such as attempts to run over groups of worshipers, large numbers of cases of arson against Jewish institutions etc. This daring is, in our assessment, indicative of the degree of determination to act. This determiniation has its roots in the dramatic increase in propaganda in all its forms, and in the dissemination of the message that all means are justified to act against anyone connected with Israel, first and foremost the Jewish communities all over the world.

17. The Internet, which has for the past several years served as a major propaganda tool, has gained impetus and senior status in incitement and the passing on of hostile messages. The web has served as a means of creating new ideological and organizational ties and of reinforcing the existing ones. Surfing the web leaves one with the impression that it has been taken over by pro-Arab and anti-Jewish elements with no difficulty at all. It is worth mentioning that attempts have been made to use legal means against site operators for various reasons, and some of these efforts have succeeded. One example was when the French court handed down a decision forbidding the "Yahoo" site from allowing the sale of Nazi memorabilia over the web. In the United States this decision was met with criticism to the extent where a court decision negated the right of the French court to hand down decisions concerning American firms.

 

Summary & Forecast

18. The year 2001, will be remembered as a year so troubled by anti-Jewish activities that Jews in various places felt a serious threat to their life-style as Jews. While in our assessment there is no place where Jewish extistence is in danger, there can be no doubt that feelings are rather grim because of the number and visciousness of the incidents.

19. In our assessment, the trend as seen thus far this year will continue, and Jews all over the world will still be in danger of becoming victims of unbridled incitement and attacks of varied severity. The key point of the stuggle against these phenonmena, is the degree to which the authorities in the various arenas have shown their determination to fight against hooligans and instigators.

 


Sources: The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism

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