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Press ReleaseIsrael/Middle East
The New Anti-Semitism in Europe and The Middle East: Threat is "Potent and Very Real" ADL Leader Says in Major Address

New York, NY, February 19, 2002 ... The events of September 11, the American campaign against terrorism and the Palestinian intifada against Israel have created a dangerous atmosphere in the Middle East and Europe, one that "gives anti-Semitism and hate and incitement a strength and power of seduction that it has never before had in history," the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham H. Foxman, said in a major address last week on the state of worldwide anti-Semitism.

"What we are witnessing today is something which I profess to you I never thought
Read Full Text of Abraham Foxman's Speech
I would witness in my lifetime," Mr. Foxman told the annual gathering of the ADL's National Executive Committee in Palm Beach, Florida. "When we first heard the charge that Israel was responsible for 9/11, for the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, most of us chuckled. And it wasn't pretty much after that that we realized it was not a funny matter, it was nothing to laugh about.

"Because today that big, hideous lie has become a truth -- that Jews bring about a situation in their interest in order to put the blame on somebody else. How classically anti-Semitic."

The 'Superhighway for Hate'

Such anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and rhetoric blossom on the Internet, where they are shared among the like-minded and spread to audiences around the world, Mr. Foxman said.

"The Internet provides a vehicle, a cheap vehicle, what we have called a superhighway for hate. And so today, a sermon in Cairo travels within minutes across the globe, through the networks, through the Web sites, through e-mail, through Al Jazeera, and this globalization facilitates the incitement and hate to make the message of anti-Semitism potent and very real. It's not just in the mosques that we hear it, and it's not limited to a small group of bigots or racists or the disillusioned, but it's out there everywhere."

Mr. Foxman pointed to several factors at work advancing worldwide anti-Semitism:

  • Jews were blamed in some quarters of the Muslim and Arab world for causing September 11, while Osama bin Laden's videotaped statements attributed Muslim anger to Israelis, Jews and America. The U.S. relationship with Israel was frequently cited by Muslim and Arab nations as provoking anger.

  • A "double standard" exists, where enemies of the Jewish State press for international sanctions against Israel and its leaders by singling it out for perceived human rights violations while ignoring real atrocities around the world. The U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa was hijacked into a forum for de-legitimizing Israel; the Fourth Geneva Convention was called into session for the second time in history to again single out Israel for criticism; and Israel's Prime Minister Sharon is facing a lawsuit brought by Palestinians in a Belgium court for alleged war crimes.

  • Anti-Semitic crimes against European Jews, especially in France, have increased dramatically, with some world leaders insisting, "that this is about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. No, it's not," said Mr. Foxman. "It's anti-Semitism. And it is politically expedient for Jospin and Chirac to keep quiet because there is an election coming and there are seven million Arab votes, so they put it under the guise of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The burning of a synagogue in France, or anywhere, has nothing to do with the Middle East. It's anti-Semitism."

  • Arab leaders in the Mideast continue to insist that their nations are not anti-Semitic, but "anti-Israel", while Arabic newspapers continue to spew anti-Semitism and spread malicious stereotypes about Jews, and extremist religious leaders spout anti-Semitic invective. "We can no longer tolerate those euphemisms because they are very, very dangerous," Mr. Foxman said.

"I had always hoped and believed that the world had learned something at the horror of a million and a half children being put to death solely for the crime of being Jewish," said Mr. Foxman. "My greatest nightmare has always been that one day I would wake up and something terrible would happen in America and we and the Jewish people in Israel would be blamed. Well, it happened.

"History has taught us that in times of great stress, in times of great instability, and in times of anxiety and unpredictability there is one thing that is predictable, and that is anti-Semitism."

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.

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