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July 20, 2015 0

Rising Anti-Semitism in Europe: History Repeating Once Again

By Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

The anti-Semitism news from Europe in over the past year has been ter­ri­ble: Jews mur­dered in Paris and Copen­hagen, syn­a­gogues attacked by mobs and fire­bombed, and increas­ing Jew­ish emi­gra­tion attrib­uted to fear of more attacks.

A new poll on anti-Semitic atti­tudes, how­ever, may offer some rea­son for opti­mism amid an oth­er­wise bleak picture.

The Anti-Defamation League poll, a follow-up to our 2014 sur­vey of anti-Semitic atti­tudes in more than 100 coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries, found sig­nif­i­cant decreases in big­oted views toward Jews in France, Bel­gium, and Ger­many, where anti-Semitic vio­lence has been a promi­nent issue.

The sur­pris­ing results in these three coun­tries prompted us to look deeper into pos­si­ble rea­sons and to con­firm the results.  The ini­tial results were con­firmed and the new data we obtained sug­gest pos­si­ble explanations.

What did we find in all three coun­tries?  Respon­dents had height­ened aware­ness and con­cern about vio­lence against Jews and a stronger sense of sol­i­dar­ity with the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties.  Over half of French respon­dents had heard polit­i­cal lead­ers con­demn anti-Semitism, and majori­ties in all three coun­tries noted their gov­ern­ments had been more active in com­bat­ting anti-Semitism.

For decades, ADL has urged pub­lic fig­ures in Amer­ica and around the world to denounce anti-Semitism when inci­dents occur. In the U.S., lead­ers at all lev­els of gov­ern­ment make such state­ments and we have seen decreases in anti-Semitic atti­tudes here in our decades of domes­tic polling.

Over the past year, we have also seen strong and sus­tained denun­ci­a­tions of anti-Semitism in France by Prime Min­is­ter Manuel Manuel Valls and Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande, where the most pro­nounced drop in anti-Semitic atti­tudes was found among the Euro­pean coun­tries sur­veyed.  In Ger­many, Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel head­lined a rally against anti-Semitism in Sep­tem­ber.  Bel­gian Prime Min­is­ter Charles Michel, who took office in Octo­ber, has been out­spo­ken against anti-Semitism and hon­est about lax­ity of pre­vi­ous governments.

Such actions should be emu­lated by all Euro­pean leaders.

It is cer­tainly pos­si­ble that peo­ple were sim­ply less will­ing to express agree­ment with anti-Jewish state­ments, while still har­bor­ing such atti­tudes. Respon­dents reported sim­i­lar lev­els of anti-Semitism among peo­ple they know com­pared with 2014, a per­cep­tion which is often a proxy for peo­ple hold­ing anti-Semitic views them­selves.  Even if that is the case, greater ret­i­cence to express anti-Semitism would still be a pos­i­tive development.

The good news must be tem­pered by the sober­ing con­cern that we do not know how deep and last­ing these pos­i­tive shifts will be.  The trau­matic effects of the recent vio­lence in France, Bel­gium and Ger­many may fade and the reluc­tance to express anti-Semitic atti­tudes may recede.  Addi­tional polling over time will tell us.

Other poll results showed how much anti-bias work remains to be done.

For the first time, the ADL poll mea­sured Mus­lim atti­tudes in Bel­gium, France, Ger­many, Italy, Spain, and the U.K.  An aver­age of 55 per­cent of West­ern Euro­pean Mus­lims har­bored anti-Semitic atti­tudes. Accep­tance of anti-Semitic stereo­types by Mus­lims in these coun­tries was sub­stan­tially higher than among the national pop­u­la­tion in each coun­try (rang­ing from 12 to 29 per­cent), though lower than cor­re­spond­ing fig­ures of 75 per­cent for Mus­lims in the Mid­dle East and North Africa (MENA) in ADL’s 2014 poll.

The index is made up of 11 clas­si­cal stereo­types about Jews.  In con­sul­ta­tion with schol­ars, ADL set a stan­dard in which respon­dents had to agree with six or more of these stereo­types in order to be described as har­bor­ing anti-Semitic atti­tudes.  To be sure, any one ques­tion may be sub­ject to dif­fer­ent inter­pre­ta­tions.  How­ever, agree­ing with at least six of these state­ments makes clear one’s biased atti­tude toward Jews.

On most conspiracy-related state­ments, e.g. “Jews have too much con­trol over global affairs,” results for Euro­pean and MENA Mus­lims showed lit­tle dif­fer­ence.  How­ever, on neg­a­tive state­ments about Jew­ish char­ac­ter, e.g. “peo­ple hate Jews because of the way they behave” and “Jews think they are bet­ter than other peo­ple,” Euro­pean Mus­lims scored sub­stan­tially lower than MENA Muslims.

Reduc­ing vio­lent attacks on Jews and Jew­ish insti­tu­tions must clearly be the first pri­or­ity in the bat­tle against anti-Semitism, but chang­ing atti­tudes counts.  While we do not see a cor­re­la­tion between high num­bers of vio­lent inci­dents and high lev­els of anti-Semitic beliefs, Jews feel freer to live openly as Jews when they are con­fi­dent of being accepted in their soci­eties, not just in the absence of secu­rity concerns.

The fight against anti-Semitism must be waged in the pub­lic square and at schools, as well as by law enforce­ment.  Polit­i­cal lead­ers must set the tone and devote the polit­i­cal cap­i­tal to encour­ag­ing every sec­tor of soci­ety to engage together to com­bat the scourge of anti-Semitism.  Civil soci­ety and the busi­ness com­mu­nity, edu­ca­tors and jour­nal­ists, reli­gious lead­ers and stu­dents, par­ents and chil­dren, law enforce­ment offi­cers, pros­e­cu­tors and jurists must all join the battle.

Large majori­ties of respon­dents in Bel­gium (68 per­cent), France (77 per­cent), and Ger­many (78 per­cent) agreed that, “Vio­lence against Jews in this coun­try affects every­one and is an attack on our way of life.”  We should not set­tle for less than 100 per­cent, and that requires clear and con­sis­tent rein­force­ment that threats to Jews are assaults on the well-being and sense of secu­rity for the whole society.

Let us hope the improve­ments found in our poll grow in effect, expand across Europe, and even­tu­ally through the rest of the world.

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May 22, 2014 2

Palestinians Welcome Pope Francis To Bethlehem With Anti-Semitism

On Sun­day, when Pope Fran­cis cel­e­brates mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, he may be con­fronted with bill­boards depict­ing Jesus being attacked by Israeli soldiers.jesus-palestinian-pope-israel

This not-so-subtle mod­ern day ver­sion of the dei­cide is trans­par­ent clas­si­cal anti-Semitism in the guise of crit­i­cism of Israel.  The posters are a prod­uct of The Pales­tin­ian Museum, which announced that at the request of the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity (PA)’s Supreme Pres­i­den­tial Com­mit­tee for Church Affairs, it had pre­pared spe­cial bill­boards to dec­o­rate Manger Square which “com­bine recent media pho­tographs of the Pales­tin­ian land­scape and its peo­ple with West­ern baroque paint­ings of bib­li­cal scenes.”

The posters, some of which depict Jesus suf­fer­ing at the hands of Israeli sol­diers, will high­light “the ten­sion between the pop­u­lar image of the Holy Land and Palestine’s ongo­ing his­tory of suf­fer­ing under occu­pa­tion and oppres­sion,”  accord­ing to the Museum.

Pales­tin­ian efforts to present them­selves as the direct descen­dants of Jesus are noth­ing new.  Nor is the manip­u­la­tive and anti-Semitic com­par­i­son of Pales­tin­ian suf­fer­ing at the hands of Jews just as they claim Jews were respon­si­ble for suf­fer­ing and death of Jesus.

The mes­sage care­fully cho­sen by an offi­cial Pales­tin­ian body to pub­licly wel­come Pope Fran­cis demon­strates how deeply inter­min­gled anti-Jewish and anti-Israel atti­tudes are in the Pales­tin­ian pub­lic sphere.

At the weekly meet­ing of Israel’s cab­i­net, Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu decried Pales­tin­ian incite­ment, cit­ing the ADL Global 100 Sur­vey find­ings about the high level of anti-Semitic atti­tudes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

While the PA reg­u­larly com­plains that incite­ment is an Israeli-manufactured excuse, there is no deny­ing that extreme anti-Israel and anti-Semitic mes­sag­ing appears rou­tinely in offi­cial Pales­tin­ian pub­li­ca­tions and institutions.

Ear­lier this week, the May 21st edi­tion of the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, fea­tured an op-ed by one of its fre­quent writ­ers, Yahya Rabah, enti­tled “No One Believes Shy­lock,” fea­tur­ing the denial of the Jew­ish con­nec­tion to the Land of Israel, com­par­isons of Israel to the Nazis and other out­rages.   Rabah writes:

“… Israel lives on a broad and exten­sive sys­tem of laws from the British Man­date, on illu­sion­ary Torah maps, as well as on hal­lu­ci­na­tions from the Baby­lon­ian cap­tiv­ity or from the Roman, the exis­tence of nei­ther has no sin­gle evi­dence. (It also lives) on prac­tices bor­rowed from the Nazis, cur­rently imi­tated by the Israelis against the Pales­tin­ian peo­ple, as clearly estab­lished by a num­ber of intel­lec­tu­als, authors and his­to­ri­ans in Israel these days.”

The issue of Pales­tin­ian incite­ment, and the PA’s chronic fail­ure to pre­pare the Pales­tin­ian pub­lic for peace with Israel was on ongo­ing con­cern cited by Israeli offi­cials dur­ing the recent cycle of US-brokered peace nego­ti­a­tions.

And with these egre­gious exam­ples appear­ing almost-daily, it is cer­tain to con­tinue to alarm all those com­mit­ted to true Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.

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May 22, 2014 0

Coverage Of The ADL Global 100 Poll In The Arab Media

The newly released ADL Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism yielded a large amount of data regard­ing dis­turbingly high lev­els of anti-Semitic atti­tudes across the Mid­dle East and North Africa (MENA). The high­est num­bers in MENA were found in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at 93%, while Iran ranked low­est, with 56% of the pop­u­la­tion hold­ing anti-Semitic attitudes.adl-global100

The ADL sur­vey gen­er­ated wide­spread cov­er­age in local and regional Ara­bic lan­guage press, both in print and online news items and opin­ion pieces. The focus was almost entirely on the poll’s MENA results, and while most arti­cles only reported the fac­tual data, a small num­ber did include crit­i­cism of the poll’s findings. 

The fol­low­ing are exam­ples of the Arab media’s cov­er­age of the poll:

Con­flat­ing Israelis with Jews:

Refer­ring to the poll as indica­tive of atti­tudes towards “Israelis” rather than “Jews,” the fol­low­ing head­line appeared on the Egypt­ian news web­site Veto­gate: “Pub­lic Opin­ion Poll: 26% of the World’s Pop­u­la­tion Hate Israel.”

Arab schol­ars present their own analyses:

  1. Pro­fes­sor Ali S. Asani of Har­vard Uni­ver­sity was quoted in the Jor­dan­ian Al-Arab al-Yawm say­ing that the results demon­strat­ing high lev­els of anti-Semitism among Arabs and low lev­els among West­ern Euro­peans rep­re­sent a his­toric role rever­sal. Europe was tra­di­tion­ally a hos­tile place for Jews, while Arab and Mus­lim coun­tries were gen­er­ally con­sid­ered secure.
  2. Hus­sein Ibish, a Senior Fel­low at the Amer­i­can Task Force on Pales­tine based in Wash­ing­ton, DC, argued that the West Bank and Gaza results were skewed due to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict. He was quoted in an arti­cle pub­lished the Dubai–based Al-Arabiyaweb­site: “The worst results are among the Pales­tini­ans. They answered the ques­tions related to the Jew­ish power and con­trol through (the prism of) their expe­ri­ence of occu­pa­tion. This is, for exam­ple, dif­fer­ent from ask­ing the Amer­i­can pub­lic such ques­tions. The Pales­tini­ans don’t see the Jews only as an eth­nic or reli­gious group, but see them through their expe­ri­ence with the occu­pa­tion army.”

Iden­ti­fy­ing ADL as an Israeli organization:

Instead of refer­ring to ADL as a Jewish-American orga­ni­za­tion, a small num­ber of Ara­bic news out­lets, includ­ing the Yemenite Nash­wan news­pa­per, stated that the poll was con­ducted by an Israeli orga­ni­za­tion.

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