Tel Aviv University Reports Dramatic Increase in Global Anti-Semitic Acts
The year 2002 witnessed the highest number of violent anti-Semitic acts in more than 12 years, according to Tel Aviv University's annual report, Anti-Semitism Worldwide 2002/3, the country-by-country survey published in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League and the World Jewish Congress. A total of 311 violent anti-Semitic attacks were reported in 2002, among them 56 major attacks involving the use of weapons, and 255 major violent incidents. The following is a summary of the 2002/3 survey, released on April 28, 2003.
In addition to the "axis of evil" identified by the U.S. as centers of terror endangering world peace and security, another "axis of evil" seems to have emerged from the anti-Semitism manifested in 2002/3. This axis, allegedly comprising Israel, western Jewish communities, particularly in the U.S., and America itself, was venomously attacked during demonstrations held worldwide against the war in Iraq, and previously against globalization (perceived by some in this movement as a U.S.-Jewish plot to control the world economy through mega-companies, international banks and the stock market). This supposed analogy, combined with various other causes, brought anti-Semitism in 2002 and early 2003 to new heights.
The year 2002 witnessed the highest number of violent anti-Semitic acts in more than 12 years: 311 cases worldwide, among them 56 major attacks (using violent means) and 255 major violent incidents (without the use of a weapon). The year 2003 seems to be undergoing a further wave of anti-Semitism as a result of the war on Iraq.
No less troubling was the change in targeting. While in 2000/1, about 60 percent of violent acts were directed at synagogues, mainly arson attacks, and before that at cemeteries, in 2002 a similar percentage was directed against persons identified as Jews.
Location was also significant. Western Europe has led the world in terms of anti-Semitic violence since the outbreak of the second intifada in October 2000, with France, Belgium and the U.K. topping the list. North America and Russia registered a moderate increase in violent incidents, while numbers in east European countries and in Latin America remained more or less on the same level. Thus, in recent years, there has been a clear shift in anti-Semitic activity from totalitarian states to western democratic ones.
The main waves of anti-Semitic violence were from October to November 2000 following the outbreak of Palestinian violence, August to October 2001, around the United Nations Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, April to August 2002 during Israeli operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the most recent one beginning with the preparations for the war on Iraq. They have tended to originate chiefly among Muslim immigrant circles in Europe, with extreme right groups jumping on the bandwagon. These waves were stimulated and accompanied by extremely anti-Semitic verbal, written and visual expressions in the media, in academia, in official circles and in society at large. They appeared as cartoons and illustrations, threat letters, graffiti, placards and calls at demonstrations, on Internet sites, and as personal insults, especially in western Europe, from Scandinavia to Italy and Spain.
Organizations and groups which in the 1990s championed anti-racism and then led the opposition to globalization now term themselves pacifists. Some elements within these groups attack the U.S., depicting it as a power-hungry super-state, which aims to dominate world politics and the economy and is driven by Israel and world Jewry. In a contemporary version of the blood libel the Jews and Israel are blamed by some for the destruction of the World Trade Center, an act they supposedly plotted in order to push the U.S. into a wholesale war against Islam, beginning in Afghanistan, and now in Iraq. Thus, the U.S. and Israel, supported allegedly by the many Jews in the United States Administration, are conceived not only as political and strategic partners, but as a modern axis of evil, manipulating the rest of the world in order to attain their interests.
In demonstrations held in 2002/3, Israel and the U.S. and their leaders were repeatedly compared to Nazis, symbolizing the ultimate contemporary iniquity. Such analogies contribute to weakening Europe's obligation to the Holocaust and, even more troubling, to undermining the legitimacy of the Jewish state and its Jewish supporters. This trend, now a mainstream phenomenon at western universities, is defined as anti-Zionism, supposedly a more civilized and legitimate term than anti-Semitism. In fact, it is discrimination against a nation which is deemed unworthy of a national life.
All the issues mentioned above form a meeting point between the extreme right and left, major segments of the liberal left, particularly in Europe, and radical Islamists who, in their struggle against Israel, "the small Satan," and the US, "the big Satan," spread and finance venomous anti-Jewish and anti-Israel propaganda. It is this alignment of interests that has brought about the current anti-Semitic explosion.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.