State of Anti-Semitism in Four Countries:
National Representatives Report
October 31, 2002
Speaking to an audience of Jewish community leaders and diplomatic representatives at the ADL Conference on Global Anti-Semitism, assessments of the anti-Jewish bias and intimidation were presented by representatives of the Jewish Communities of:
The following are summaries of their reports:
Report from Roger Cukierman
President, Conseil Representatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF)
Since the beginning of the Palestinian uprising against Israel two years ago, French Jews have lived with a general feeling of vulnerability and anxiety. There have been numerous anti-Semitic acts ranging from from insults to personal attacks to burning of synagogues and schools. French public opinion, in general, has an extremely negative view of the State of Israel and this attitude carries over to French Jews.
Mr. Cukierman identified three sources for this:
- Traditional extreme right anti-Semitic attitudes, embodied in the far-right extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen, have continued to be a force in France.
- More significant are the anti-Semites on the extreme left who use anti-Israel criticism as an excuse to publicly attack Jews and who maintain a strong populist appeal.
- Religious fundamentalists increasingly influence the large, growing Muslim population of more than one million.
There has been a decrease in anti-Semitic violence recently as a result of efforts by the Interior Minister to put an end to acts motivated by hatred. But the lull is "only temporary," said Mr. Cukierman, "because the atmosphere is still very bad." Mr. Cukierman cited the ongoing attempts to boycott Jewish-owned businesses and pointed to hostility in schools with Arab students to any history lessons that even mention the Holocaust.
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Report from Jo Wagerman
President, The Board of Deputies of British Jews
Until recently anti-Semitism was restricted to minority and insignificant splintered groups on the far right. But now the United Kingdom is facing an explosion of Muslim anti-Semitism and its spread through Muslim populations. Arab newspapers, TV and radio stations, books, films, popular songs, children's programs, political speeches, and Muslim clerics all put out a stream of hatred. There are four common strands in this anti-Semitism:
Conspiracy theories about Jewish plans for world domination
Blood libels and fantasies of Jewish poisoning and the spread of AIDS
Diabolical Nazi-like images of Jews
Genocidal rhetoric and incitement to violence.
The relentless message is that Jews plan world domination and the eradication of Islam and Christianity. They are the origin of all evil and corruption. Visually, the depiction of the Jew is straight from the pages of Der Stürmer. The aim is not simply to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish state but to dehumanize Judaism and the Jewish people. It is profoundly and deeply anti-Semitic, and its language resonates with the Jews of Europe who have heard it all in living memory.
There is widespread targeting, intimidation and harassment of Jewish students on campus. The boycott campaign is taking on an increasingly anti-Semitic nature. Meanwhile, the media obsession with blaming Israel for the current impasse the Middle East has created an environment where anti-Semitism is increasingly accepted. "Israel is the scapegoat. Jews are blamed as the agents of global imperialism and Westernism," Wagerman said.
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Report from Martin Bodd
Representative of the Jewish community of Oslo
The small Jewish community in Norway, which numbers around 1,400, has experienced more harassment in the last two years than it has at any time since 1945. Norway is different from other European nations in that anti-Semitism is not as manifest in society, and Jews are viewed largely as a religious group, as opposed to a race or a people.
The troubling rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Norway in the last two years has corresponded with the increase of violence in the Middle East. Newspapers have depicted Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel, as an SS criminal, and compared Israel's military actions using similar Holocaust imagery. Children have been harassed in 10 separate incidents, and in some cases, parents have felt it necessary to discourage their children from wearing identifiably Jewish clothing.
The Jewish community has a positive and healthy dialogue with politicians, but the community has no organized body to influence the political process in Norway. Norwegian politicians tend to toe the party line when it comes to policy toward Israel. Mr. Bodd suggested that the community should be involved in fighting anti-Semitism by stressing to political leaders and the wider country that the Norway's Jews are on the whole a moderate group that supports Israel, but who also support the eventual creation of a Palestinian State. "We do not want to transfer the conflict to Norway," said Mr. Bodd. "We need to find a strategy that works best for our country, and for each country in Europe."
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Report from Alfredo Neuburger
Director of the Political Affairs Division of DAIA, a Jewish umbrella organization
Argentina's Jewish community has not experienced the level or intensity of anti-Semitism that has plagued Europe largely because the nation's attentions have been held captive to the crippling economic crisis. The severe economic depression in Argentina has dramatically impacted the mostly middle class Jewish community in Argentina and most citizens of Argentina are aware that Jews are suffering with them. "Our own problems are so terrible in Argentina that we have very little time to worry about what is going on abroad," said Neuburger, who noted that the Argentinean people have little time to follow developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Still, the Jewish community in Argentina continues to grapple with the two deadly terrorist attacks of the early 1990s in Buenos Aires - the bombing attack on the Israeli embassy in 1992 and the bombing of the Jewish community center in 1994 - which have only recently been identified as the work of Arab terrorists. The attacks, coordinated by the Iranian government and executed by members of Hezbollah, the terrorist organization based in Lebanon, were a manifestation of global anti-Semitism similar to the attacks of 9/11. "Why Argentina? Because it is the largest Latin American Jewish community and the terrorists knew they had the least possibility of being caught," said Neuburger.
Argentina has recently passed a tough anti-discrimination law that has had an impact in fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice. "We have sent to prison people for painting swastikas and for handing out anti-Semitic pamphlets," said Neuburger. "It is a very useful instrument."
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