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Anti-Semitism: 2002 Report on Global Trends in Anti-Semitism

- General
- General Trends
- Details
- Summary & Assessment


1. The year 2002 was a difficult year for everything that has to do with worldwide antisemitism. Even though the number of incidents recorded was smaller than that of the previous year, it appears that this year new severe standards, that developed into a routine, were established.

2. In 2002, there were serious incidents involving attacks on Jews and Jewish facilities, virulent incitement to antisemitsim and Anti-Zionism, and perhaps most serious of all – the generation of an atmosphere of hatred towards both Israel and the Jews as a single, vilified, defamed entity responsible for all the evils in the world. During this year, attempts were made to physically attack Jews in Europe, North America, Oceania and the CIS, alongside a constant barrage of propaganda that did not exclude any country in the world. The most blatant propaganda effort was made by Egypt where anti-Jewish propaganda became a first-rate tool in its campaign against Israel.

3. Above all of this lurks the threatening shadow of worldwide terrorism in the form of the Al-Qaeda Organization. While that organization does threaten the entire Western world, it has made the Jewish world its primary target in both word and deed. For instance, in April it perpetrated an attack in the ancient synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia where 20 civilians were killed.


General Trends

4. In the course of 2002, a number of trends in anti-Jewish activities emerged:

a. The Worldwide Jihad organization made the Jewish world its preferred target for terrorist attacks.

b. Most of the attacks on Jews and Jewish facilities were carried out by Islamic elements.

c. Violent attacks against Jewish targets became appreciably more daring.

d. A clear affinity has developed between events connected with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the number and severity of anti-Jewish attacks all over the world.

e. Elements hostile to Israel and the Jewish world took measures to increase the hostile attitude towards them on university campuses and in the media.

f. Many of the activities described as criticism of Israel, had in fact antisemitic undertones.

g. In many instances criticism of Israel turned into unbridled attacks against Zionism and the Zionists, and implicitly against the Jews.

h. Antisemitic propaganda in the Arab world moved a further rung up the ladder making frequent use of classic antisemitic stereotypes.

i. The radical left and the radical right grant unqualified support to the Palestinian cause in its conflict with Israel.

j. There is evidence of an ideological connection between elements in both the radical right and the radical left and Islamic elements. This ideological connection has led to cooperation in the organizing of joint demonstrations and protests.




5. In Europe there has been a relatively high level of antisemitic activity including attacks on and harassment of Jews as well as physical damage to Jewish community facilities. These activities reached their peak in the months of April and May of 2002, parallel to the Defensive Shield Campaign.

6. In the past year, as in the year preceding it, France stood out as the country in which the greatest number and most serious incidents occurred in comparison with other countries in the world. These incidents included: the physical attack and harassment of Jews all over the country, the torching of synagogues, the desecration of cemeteries, threats and dissemination of radical antisemitic and anti-Israel propaganda. The perpetrators of the attacks came from the Islamic arena, mainly from among young North African immigrants. It should be noted that in a number of instances it was clear that the attacks were better organized, thus reference is not to a grass-roots reaction but to organized and establishment-based acts. These were designed to denounce and attack Jews in reaction to events in Israel and served as attacks on the Zionist idea. These ideas were joined this year by blatant antisemitic motives manifest in incitement to attack Jews everywhere (incitement in the mosques and in other concentrations of Muslims) "because they are responsible for everything 'evil' in the world". It should, however, be noted that one decisive action was taken by the French Government (after the elections there) there was a perceptible decrease in the number and severity of the incidents.

7. In other European countries, especially those with large Muslim populations, there have been serious incidents of physical attacks, harassment and the like. Belgium has been the venue of severe physical attacks against individual Jews and facilities of the Jewish communities. In addition, the universities have figured as centers of antisemitic and anti-Israel propaganda and threats. In Britain, which has a tradition of considerable antisemitic activity, Jews have been attacked and synagogues and other facilities of the Jewish community have been severely desecrated.

8. There have been numerous antisemitic incidents in the Scandinavian countries (especially Denmark and Sweden). This situation is partially explained by the attitude of the authorities in those countries to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is extremely critical of Israel.

9. The year 2002 saw a relatively large number of antisemitic incidents in Germany, including physical attacks on Jews and the desecration of cemeteries. These were carried out by neo-Nazi and Islamic elements, despite the fact that the authorities there have for years made numerous efforts to protect the Jewish community and its facilities.

10. In Eastern Europe and Russia antisemitic activities have taken the form of propaganda and demonstrations. In Russia there were a number of violent incidents in which individual Jews were injured and synagogues and other Jewish facilities were damaged. In the course of the year there were incidents of booby-trapped "signs" placed in such a manner that any attempt to take them down set them off. These "signs", some of which carried various kinds of antisemitic slogans, caused one fatality and a number of injuries. Incidents similar to those in Russia also occurred in Ukraine.


11. In the North American countries, the United States and Canada, a relatively large number of attacks on and harassment of Jews was recorded, mainly parallel to the Defensive Shield Campaign in Israel. The incidents included The torching and attempted torching of synagogues and attacks on and harassment of Jews in various places.

12. More than anything else, an atmosphere of hostility against Israel and the Jews was created on college campuses and among a considerable number of academic personnel. Both in Canada and in the United States, there was a highly visible exacerbation of antisemitic and anti-Israel rhetoric, the most serious of which was the call for divestment from Israel in which academic institutions were urged to withdraw their investments in companies maintaining trade with Israel. Although in many of the cases this initiative proved unsuccessful, its instigators did create an atmosphere of hostility towards Israel and the Jews and of course anyone identified with supporting Israel. In addition to all this, there were also incidents of violence in various universities against Israeli and pro-Israel elements.

13. In Latin America the situation is completely different from that in other regions of the world. Despite a rather large Islamic presence in quite a number of countries on that continent, the number of anti-Jewish incidents was relatively low as was the severity of the acts. Exceptions to this were Brazil and Chile, where there were a number of attacks on Jews and Jewish community facilities, albeit lesser in severity and number than those recorded in Europe.

14. In Argentina there were numerous anti-Israel demonstrations but they concentrated mainly on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in general did not deviate from that into antisemitic expressions or acts. One such exception to this was in the city of La Plata where an anti-tank grenade was placed at the front of the Jewish Community Sports Center accompanied by a note reading "Jews get out"! Nothing is known of who planted the grenade.


15. In the North African countries in which there are rather large Jewish communities, the most significant incident was the attack in April by an Al-Qaeda terrorist on the ancient synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba in which 20 German tourists and a number of local residents were killed. There were additional serious attacks on Jews in other cities of Tunisia as well as in several cities in Morocco.


16. In 2002, there was an increase in antisemitic activities in Australia. These included harassment of Jews and Jewish institutions as well as the dissemination of anti-Jewish propaganda, including support for the Palestinian cause.


Summary & Assessment

17. This past year was characterized by an increase in antisemitic incidents including both violence and propaganda. 2002 will be remembered as the year in which these incidents moved another rung up the ladder, and when acts that had earlier been considered extraordinarily violent became routine. As had been the case in previous years since the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifadeh, the incidents in Europe, especially in France and Belgium, occupied a central place.

18. 2002 was marked by attacks of terrorism all over the world, and Jews did not escape being their main target. Alongside the attack on the ancient synagogue in Djerba, there were reports of preparations and intentions to attack other Jewish targets in various countries in the world.

19. In addition to that, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict occupied a focal point in the hostile propaganda and demonstrations against Israel, the Jewish world and the Zionist Movement. This was expressed in mass demonstrations and other severe protest measures. The campaign against the American attack on Iraq also provided a venue for many anti-Jewish and Anti-Zionist manifestations.

20. In our assessment, the trend which began in 2002 will continue and even exacerbate as the possibility of the American attack in the Gulf becomes more palpable. We assess that when the American attack begins, those opposed to it will resort to demonstrations as well as other means against American targets as well as against Jewish and Israeli targets all over the world. Moreover, terrorist organizations connected with worldwide terrorism and others including those with connections to Iraq are liable to increase their attempts to attack Jewish targets.

21. In addition to everything mentioned above, all of those organizations who have joined forces with the Arab and Muslim organizations, for example the radical organizations from the left and from the right, will continue their efforts to attack and harass everything that has to do with the Jews and Israel and in certain cases the Americans.


Sources: The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism