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January 11, 2016 0

Fighting Anti-Semitism, Fighting for France

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

Roger Cukier­man
Pres­i­dent of CRIF, the Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil of Jew­ish Insti­tu­tions in France

This blog orig­i­nally appeared in The Huff­in­g­ton Post

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One year ago this week, an ISIS-affiliated Islamic extrem­ist mur­dered four Jews at the Hyper Cacher kosher super­mar­ket in Paris. That attack fol­lowed the shoot­ings of the Char­lie Hebdo jour­nal­ists and police offi­cers just two days ear­lier, a heinous act also com­mit­ted by ISIS trained terrorists.

In 2012, a ter­ror­ist, who claimed affil­i­a­tion with al-Qaeda, killed three sol­diers in Mon­tauban and days later mur­dered a rabbi and three chil­dren at a Jew­ish school in Toulouse. Accord­ing to leaked doc­u­ments in the ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion of the mas­sive Novem­ber 13 attacks in Paris, Jew­ish tar­gets also were con­sid­ered by the ISIS-affiliated terrorists.

Anti-Semitism is a core tenet of Islamic extrem­ism, so it should not come as a sur­prise that French Jews are attacked in tan­dem with rep­re­sen­ta­tives and sym­bols of the French Repub­lic: sol­diers, police, and those exer­cis­ing free­dom of the press. For too many years, though, the wave of anti-Semitism that began in 2000 was con­sid­ered by French pub­lic opin­ion and French author­i­ties as sim­ply the import of the Arab-Israeli con­flict and thus not the respon­si­bil­ity of France.

The Hyper Cacher mur­ders marked a turn­ing point toward an under­stand­ing that the French Jew­ish com­mu­nity and the French Repub­lic share more than com­mon ene­mies. They share a com­mon destiny.

In a major speech to the French par­lia­ment just days after the attack, Prime Min­is­ter Manuel Valls admit­ted that French soci­ety had let down its Jew­ish com­pa­tri­ots by not react­ing suf­fi­ciently. He vowed to imple­ment a multi-pronged strat­egy against anti-Semitism and against rad­i­cal­iza­tion in the Mus­lim com­mu­nity. That work is underway.

French author­i­ties waged a sim­i­lar bat­tle against rad­i­cal­iza­tion and anti-Semitism a cen­tury ago among mostly rural Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ties. Pub­lic poli­cies were imple­mented to empha­size crit­i­cal think­ing and sec­u­lar­ism in edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tions. Those efforts should be rein­forced to address Islamic extrem­ism in schools today.

In 2015, almost 1,000 stu­dents were iden­ti­fied by their teach­ers as at risk of rad­i­cal­iza­tion. In some schools in France — for­tu­nately a minor­ity of them — the anti-Semitism of the past 15 years pre­saged a rise of other illib­eral ten­den­cies: homo­pho­bia, sex­ism, con­spir­acy the­o­ries, and hatred of the French Republic.

Increas­ing Islamic extrem­ism has con­tributed to the polit­i­cal gains of the far right, which also has a long his­tory of anti-Semitism. The mutual rein­force­ment of these move­ments — with the far right con­tribut­ing to rad­i­cal­iza­tion among French Mus­lims — is not good for the Jews nor does it augur well for demo­c­ra­tic values.

Today the sit­u­a­tion in France is grave and very dif­fer­ent from the con­di­tions famil­iar to Jews liv­ing in the U.S. Com­par­ing eight years of ADL’s records for anti-Semitic assaults in the U.S. and data from SPCJ, the French Jew­ish secu­rity agency, we see that French Jews are nearly 40 times more at risk of being attacked than Amer­i­can Jews (after adjust­ing for the size of the two com­mu­ni­ties). While it is ille­gal in France to keep sta­tis­tics based on eth­nic­ity or reli­gion, strong anec­do­tal evi­dence sug­gests that the over­whelm­ing major­ity of the assailants are young men of North African descent.

Accord­ing to a 2013 sur­vey of Euro­pean Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties by the Euro­pean Union, sixty per­cent of French Jews feared being the vic­tim of an anti-Semitic assault. Half of French Jews always or usu­ally avoid wear­ing any­thing that will iden­tify them as Jew­ish. Fear­ing for their phys­i­cal safety, a grow­ing num­ber of French Jews sim­ply have left their native coun­try. The num­ber of French Jews who moved to Israel dou­bled in 2014 from the prior year to more than 7,000, and reached almost 8,000 in 2015. While no hard sta­tis­tics are avail­able, Jews also emi­grated in large num­bers to the UK, the US, and Canada. More­over, most of these are core mem­bers of the com­mu­nity: fam­i­lies with chil­dren, iden­ti­fied Jews com­mit­ted to their faith, peo­ple who feel that they have been forced to choose between their beliefs and their safety.

If the major­ity of French Jews lose con­fi­dence that their sit­u­a­tion will improve, those num­bers will con­tinue to grow, leav­ing Europe’s largest Jew­ish com­mu­nity much dimin­ished and on the brink of collapse.

Our analy­sis and other polls have shown the French Mus­lim com­mu­nity to be one of the most mod­er­ate Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties in Europe, but the ter­ror­ists who emerged from it have already deeply affected the Jew­ish com­mu­nity. Will Islamic extrem­ists, with their intrin­sic anti-Semitism, rad­i­cal­ize enough French Mus­lims to cause half a mil­lion French Jews to flee? Or, will the endur­ing French val­ues of equal­ity and fra­ter­nity pre­vail among the French Mus­lim com­mu­nity of eight mil­lion as an anti­dote to rad­i­cal­ism? Indeed, let us not for­get, it was a young Mus­lim employee, Las­sana Bathily, who saved six Jews at the Hyper Cacher mar­ket by hid­ing them in a walk-in freezer, an act which could have cost him his life

We all have roles to play. The gov­ern­ment must ensure secu­rity for all French cit­i­zens, allow Jews to live openly as Jews, edu­cate the pub­lic against anti-Semitism, and com­bat rad­i­cal­iza­tion through a vari­ety of means includ­ing bet­ter inte­gra­tion of French Mus­lims into French soci­ety. French Mus­lim lead­ers must encour­age their com­mu­ni­ties to assist the author­i­ties to iden­tify those at risk of rad­i­cal­iza­tion or already rad­i­cal­ized. Polit­i­cal par­ties com­mit­ted to the val­ues of the French Repub­lic must pre­vail over par­ties who oppose those core ideas. Jew­ish lead­ers in France and around the world must con­tinue to raise the alarm and make clear what is at stake: as goes the fight against anti-Semitism, so goes the French Republic.

In the words of Pres­i­dent François Hol­lande, “it is not the Jews who should be leav­ing France, but the anti-Semites,” and of Prime Min­is­ter Valls: because if French Jews leave, “France will no longer be France.”

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January 6, 2016 1

Empowering Jewish Youth to Respond to Anti-Semitism

USYLast week, over 700 Jew­ish teens from across the United States and Canada gath­ered in Bal­ti­more, MD as part of United Syn­a­gogue Youth’s Inter­na­tional Con­ven­tion.  The Anti-Defamation League par­tic­i­pated in the con­ven­tion as a pro­gram part­ner to edu­cate and empower the stu­dents to respond to anti-Semitism. At a time when global anti-Semitism is on the rise, col­lege cam­puses are rife with anti-Israel bias and Jew­ish youth reg­u­larly hear insen­si­tive com­ments about Jews and Judaism, this work is more impor­tant than ever.

Eighty teens par­tic­i­pated in three work­shops over the course of two days, shar­ing their own expe­ri­ences with anti-Semitism, learn­ing the his­tory behind anti-Semitic stereo­types and myths, and prac­tic­ing new strate­gies to respond to anti-Semitism in their every­day lives.  Hear­ing from their peers around the coun­try, stu­dents were able to gain aware­ness about the preva­lence of anti-Semitism.  As one stu­dent com­mented, “I learned that there is more anti-Semitism in schools than I thought there was.”

Stu­dents shared sto­ries of pen­nies being thrown at them, swastikas appear­ing in their schools and hear­ing anti-Semitic “jokes” from their peers.  Through inter­ac­tive exer­cises, role play­ing sce­nar­ios and con­ver­sa­tions with their peers, the stu­dents gained strate­gies to respond and explored what it means for them as Jew­ish teens to stand up for them­selves in the face of anti-Semitism. They also dis­cussed and devel­oped strate­gies to respond to anti-Semitism as it relates to Israel and talked about how these sit­u­a­tions are sim­i­lar to and dif­fer­ent from tra­di­tional forms of anti-Semitism.

At the end of the pro­gram, the stu­dents shared one thing they will do dif­fer­ently as a result of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the work­shop. Col­lec­tively, their responses demon­strate the com­mit­ment and power of teens to make a dif­fer­ence in the fight against anti-Semitism:

  • “I will tell friends that anti-Semitism is unacceptable.”
  • “I will be a big­ger advo­cate for the Jew­ish peo­ple and Israel.”
  • “Inform my friends about the facts and what’s really going on”
  • “Point out and explain anti-Semitism when I see it”
  • “I will stand up for the Jew­ish peo­ple if some­thing anti-Semitic is said.”
  • “Respond calmly and in an infor­ma­tive man­ner to anti-Semitic stereotypes”
  • “I will edu­cate oth­ers on how to com­bat anti-Semitism.”
  • “Speak up against insen­si­tive jokes”

The work­shops drew upon the Anti-Defamation League’s edu­ca­tion pro­gram­ming to address anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias with teens and young adults across the United States.   Since the pro­gram was first offered in the 1980’s, ADL has reached over 55,000 teens with knowl­edge, skills and resources to respond to anti-Semitism.

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December 17, 2015 1

International Book Fair In Saudi Arabia Features Anti-Semitic Titles

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Adver­tise­ment for the Jed­dah Inter­na­tional Book Fair

The Jed­dah Inter­na­tional Book Fair in Saudi Ara­bia, which hosts more than 350 pub­lish­ing houses from 21 coun­tries, appears to fea­ture anti-Semitic books for sale.

The book fair, tak­ing place Decem­ber 12–22, includes on its “Book Lists” works such as My Awak­en­ing: The Jew­ish Influ­ence in the United States by the noto­ri­ous anti-Semite David Duke. Duke’s book, clas­si­fied as “Polit­i­cal Sci­ence” on the list from the Dar Alfiker Al Mua’sir pub­lish­ing house in Lebanon, is listed for SAR53 (US$14).

Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which served as a blue­print for the exter­mi­na­tion of six mil­lion Jews and mil­lions of oth­ers in the Holo­caust, is listed to be sold at the book fair for SAR45 (US$12). Clas­si­fied as “His­tory,” Mein Kampf, is on the list from Ibn Al Nafees pub­lish­ing house in Egypt. A book titled Free Masons, The Jews and The Torahby Dr. Noman Al Sama­rayi, which pro­motes con­spir­a­to­r­ial the­o­ries about a Jew­ish role in dom­i­nat­ing the world, was listed for sale for SR8 (US$2).

The Jed­dah Gov­er­norate, the Saudi Min­istry of Cul­ture, and a num­ber of pri­vate sec­tor cor­po­ra­tions co-organized the book fair, which attracted more than 150,000visitors in its first three days accord­ing to the fair website.

Unfor­tu­nately, sell­ing anti-Semitic books at book fairs in the Mid­dle East is an ongo­ing prob­lem. For exam­ple, another book fair in the region, the Doha Inter­na­tional Book Fair in Qatar, which ended on Decem­ber 12, also included anti-Semitic titles, such as the Arabic-language anti-Semitic Jew­ish Ency­clo­pe­dia.

Fea­tur­ing anti-Semitic titles in the right con­text may at times serve to expose their vicious nature. How­ever, it is clear that in the case of the Jed­dah Book Fair and sev­eral other book fairs in the region, such books are dis­played to read­ers who may not be aware of the big­oted agenda behind such books. Includ­ing edi­to­r­ial lan­guage or con­tex­tu­al­iz­ing the books appro­pri­ately as hate­ful mate­r­ial is extremely important.

Over the past few years, ADL has doc­u­mented the avail­abil­ity of sim­i­lar prob­lem­atic books at sev­eral book fairs in the region. Below are few examples:

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