Terrorism at Home and in Israel, Resurgence of Worldwide Anti-Semitism Top ADL List Of Issues Affecting The Jewish Community
New York, N.Y., December 21, 2001... Each year, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) surveys the spectrum of stories that have had the greatest effect on the Jewish community. Overshadowing other issues this past year were the terrorism in America and ongoing Palestinian violence against Israel.
"2001 will be most remembered for the heinous terrorist attacks on America," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "This year, instead of a traditional "top ten" list, we will be looking at the biggest story of the year and the far-reaching consequences of terrorism. While we recognize that in the eight months prior to Sept. 11 there were many issues that were of concern to the Jewish community, the unprecedented terror attacks gave Americans a sense of what Israelis live with daily- random, unprovoked attacks that cause great personal suffering and anger-and why it is so important to see the perpetrators of these acts brought to justice."
The attack on America was not only against individuals but also an attack on our freedoms and democratic values perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists seeking the demise of our pluralistic society. For all Americans, the attacks have permanently altered our sense of security at home. Until Sept.11, the brand of radical terrorism and blind hatred that has challenged Israel since its founding had not arrived on our shores in such force. One of the most frightening elements of the terrorist attacks is that the perpetrators of these terrible crimes moved freely through American society without arousing suspicion, taking advantage of the freedoms to destroy our way of life.
The War on Terrorism
When President Bush declared a war on global terrorism the immediate goal was to dismantle the al-Qaeda global terrorist network and find those responsible for the attack on America. Afghanistan's Taliban, who gave full support to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, became the first targets of the war.
In the wake of Sept. 11, the Arab-American community feared reprisals for the terrorist attacks. Some Muslims were targeted, as were others, including non-Muslim Sikhs and Semitic-looking individuals; even Israelis feared being singled out. The Jewish community spoke out against ethnic bias and violence against Muslims, Arab-Americans and other groups. However, many Jewish organizations, found it impossible to meet with Arab-American leaders because of their refusal to unequivocally condemn terrorism against Israel.
Congress passed the USA Patriot Act of 2001, designed to deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, and to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, while supporting civil liberties. Some of the changes initiated by the law include improving federal surveillance procedures, information sharing and cutting off access to funds of those suspected of terrorist activity or aiding here in the U.S.
President Bush, in Phase II of the war on terrorism, added anti-Israel terrorist groups Hamas, Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad to a special list of foreign terrorists subject to sanctions under U.S. law. He also ordered the headquarters raided and assets frozen of the U.S.-based Holy Land Foundation, a key supporter of Palestinian terror group Hamas.
An international coalition led by the U.S and including many of our traditional allies, was formed to support the global war on terrorism. On the ground in Afghanistan, U.S. forces, along with the Afghani National Alliance and coalition members, successfully brought down the ruling Taliban and are in the process of helping to install a new government. Bin Laden and al-Qaeda leaders have yet to be brought to justice.
The Arab World & "The Big Lie"
The initial reaction in the Arab world, and in some Arab and Muslim communities in America, was to condemn terrorism but point to the "root causes" of Sept. 11: U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Many Arab leaders were quick to point out that Palestinian suicide bombers did not fall into the same terrorist category as the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. Throughout the Arab world, there was a question as to whether bin Laden and his followers were really responsible for what happened. Rumors abounded as fact, such as 4,000 Jews did not show up to work at the World Trade Center on Sept.11 and the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, was responsible for attacks.
The anti-Israel and anti-Semitic campaign in the Arab media also intensified. Throughout the Arab world, the drumbeat of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish and anti-American propaganda continues along with the spread of these rumors. Blood libel, conspiracy theories and virulently anti-Semitic cartoons are prominently featured in Arab-language newspapers and on television in Egypt, Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Israel: Facing Continued Palestinian Violence
Throughout the year, the Palestinian leadership did little to quell the rising tide of anti-Israel violence. Hamas and Islamic Jihad suicide bombers were responsible for the deaths of scores of innocent Israelis and the wounding of hundreds of others. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi.
President Bush and his administration, in an effort to end the violence, dispatched former Sen. George Mitchell and CIA Director George Tenet to the region. Both released comprehensive reports outlining a series of steps for both sides to take, including a call on Yasir Arafat to act to end the violence, plans for immediate cease-fire agreements and the eventual return to negotiations. President Bush, while trying to find a way to mediate the escalating crisis, has given tremendous support to Israel and has repeatedly refused to meet with Yasir Arafat while the violence continued. The President also went on the record supporting separate Israeli and Palestinian states. After the Palestinians failed to adhere to the recommendations and continued attacking Israeli citizens, Secretary of State Colin Powell appointed retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni and Assistant Secretary of State William Burns to act as intermediaries to help broker an end to the violence. The Palestinian Authority and Yasir Arafat remain accountable for the continuation of violence and terrorism and for the deaths of innocent Israelis.
The UN World Conference Against Racism
A campaign of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish hate by the Arab League and Palestinian organizations succeeded in hijacking the UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa -- diverting its focus away from victims of racism to forging an international front against Israel and Jews. The Conference resurrected the notorious "Zionism=Racism" charge, repealed by the UN in 1991. The indictment of Israel and anti-Jewish rhetoric -- including refusal to acknowledge the uniqueness of the Holocaust -- led to a walkout of the Israeli and U.S. delegations. Though the governments, in the end, favored more watered down language, a parallel non-governmental conference branded Zionism as racism and promoted anti-Jewish stereotypes and hate literature.
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.