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July 28, 2014 1

Anti-Semitic Incidents at Anti-Israel Demonstrations Continue in Europe

Over the past days, anti-Semitic inci­dents con­tinue to plague Euro­pean Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties, often in con­nec­tion with anti-Israel demonstrations.

Just one hour after an anti-Israel demon­stra­tion in Toulouse, France, on Sat­ur­day, Molo­tov cock­tails were thrown at a Jew­ish com­mu­nity cen­ter and at the police guard­ing the center.

French media reported on an anti-Israel march on Sat­ur­day in Paris, where they heard peo­ple say­ing “We’re ruled by the Zion­ists” and oth­ers respond­ing, “They’re the worst race.”

Last night, swastikas were spray-painted in a heav­ily Jew­ish area of Lon­don and also in Rome’s his­toric Jew­ish quar­ter.

Rome1

A poster was also plas­tered on walls in Rome. Fea­tur­ing a white-power Celtic cross, it equates – pos­i­tively – Ital­ian fas­cists and Pales­tini­ans and says they have a com­mon enemy, unstated but obvi­ously, the Jews.

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The good news is that the gov­ern­ments in France, Ger­many, and Italy, the three coun­tries where the major­ity of inci­dents have occurred, have responded well.  French Pres­i­dent Hol­lande and Prime Min­is­ter Valls, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Merkel, and the for­eign min­is­ters of France, Ger­many, and Italy col­lec­tively, have made clear state­ments that such attacks on their Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties are intol­er­a­ble, and they have matched those words with strong law enforcement.

At a demon­stra­tion in Berlin on Fri­day, there were almost as many police as demon­stra­tors.  CRIF, the rep­re­sen­ta­tive orga­ni­za­tion of the French Jew­ish com­mu­nity, thanked the Paris police today for pre­vent­ing attempts by anti-Israel demon­stra­tors on Sat­ur­day from going to the Marais his­toric Jew­ish quar­ter or the syn­a­gogues near Place de la Republique, where 5,000 peo­ple had assem­bled despite a ban on the demonstration.

On Fri­day, Germany’s largest cir­cu­la­tion paper, Bild, fea­tured state­ments against anti-Semitism from politi­cians, busi­ness lead­ers, civic lead­ers, media per­son­al­i­ties, and celebri­ties with “Never Again Jew Hatred” on the front page.

Impor­tantly, both the French and Ger­man lead­ers have said these attacks are not just against Jews, but attacks against the state and against the con­sti­tu­tional order.  They are not play­ing ref­eree between pro-Palestinian pro­test­ers and Jews, but are rightly say­ing this fight is between vio­lent anti-Semites and the rest of society.

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February 27, 2014 1

Major Arab Newspaper Publishes “Anti-Jewish Slogans Are Not Islamic”

The deci­sion to re-publish a cri­tique of anti-Semitism by Al Quds Al Arabi, the third largest cir­cu­lated off­shore pan-Arab news­pa­per accord­ing to the Carnegie Endow­ment for Inter­na­tional Peace, could sig­nal a move toward greater plu­ral­ism and diver­sity of views in the Arab press, which is often dom­i­nated by anti-Jewish and anti-Israel narratives.al-quds-al-arabi-sinem-tezyaparin-jew

Arab jour­nal­ism has been a major plat­form for impor­tant debate and dis­cus­sion about the ques­tion of reli­gious intol­er­ance in con­nec­tion with dis­crim­i­na­tion against Mus­lims and the defama­tion of Islam. So far, how­ever, it has been ret­i­cent to address the prob­lem of reli­gious intol­er­ance more broadly, includ­ing anti-Semitism.

The arti­cle, writ­ten by Turk­ish jour­nal­ist Sinem Tezya­par in Sep­tem­ber 2013 and titled “Anti-Jewish Slo­gans Are Not Islamic,” appeared on the London-based Arabic-language Al Quds Al Arabi web­site on Feb­ru­ary 24.

Al Quds Al Arabi, pre­vi­ously known for its hos­tile posi­tions toward Israel, report­edly changed its own­er­ship last year and replaced its edi­tor. These changes may explain the deci­sion to repub­lish the article.

In her arti­cle, Tezya­par argues that anti-Jewish nar­ra­tives con­tra­dict Qur’anic teach­ings and that Mus­lims are obliged to take a stronger posi­tion against anti-Jewish state­ments. “Jews are the descen­dants of Prophets like Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon (peace be upon them all),” she writes. “A Mus­lim can­not be silent in the face of those who try to anni­hi­late the descen­dants of Prophets.”

The arti­cle rejects attempts to mis­use some Qur’anic verses to pro­mote anti-Jewish nar­ra­tives and expresses clear sup­port for, “The Jew­ish right to live in the Holy Land,” indi­cat­ing that such a right “is granted in the Qur’an by God. God says; ‘And there­after We said to the Chil­dren of Israel: ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land.’”

“It is against the right con­science, and more impor­tantly, it is against the Qur’an to tell Jews to go some­where else,” she writes. In verse after verse, Tezya­par pro­motes a pos­i­tive mes­sage to con­vey that “Mus­lims and Jews can live side by side in peace.”

Hope­fully the deci­sion by Al Quds Al Arabi to pub­lish Tezyapar’s arti­cle is a sign that Arab media will find more oppor­tu­ni­ties to fea­ture coura­geous and hon­est voices against all forms of reli­gious hatred, includ­ing anti-Semitism.

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December 27, 2013 5

Campaigns In Atlanta And London Target Israeli Policy In Bethlehem

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St. James Church Wall

Right in time for Christ­mas, two cam­paigns have begun that demo­nize Israeli pol­icy in the West Bank city of Beth­le­hem, the birth­place of Jesus.

In Atlanta, Geor­gia, five elec­tronic bill­boards are cur­rently on dis­play for a two week dura­tion that depict Jesus’s par­ents Mary and Joseph being unable to gain entry into Beth­le­hem in mod­ern times because of Israel’s secu­rity bar­rier on the bor­der of the West Bank (the image was cre­ated by the artist Banksy). These bill­boards are spon­sored by If Amer­i­cans Knew (IAK), a vir­u­lently anti-Israel orga­ni­za­tion that has been run­ning anti-Israel bill­boards in cities across the United States over the past year.

In Lon­don, Eng­land, St. James’s Church erected a large dis­play out­side of the church to depict the secu­rity bar­rier that sur­rounds Beth­le­hem. The church’s rev­erend, Lucy Win­kett, claimed that the dis­play, which resem­bles the secu­rity wall in Israel, was designed to show passersby “what the peo­ple of Beth­le­hem are expe­ri­enc­ing today.”

The mock secu­rity wall out­side St. James’ Church is part of a fes­ti­val called “Beth­le­hem Unwrapped,” which is being spon­sored by the Holy Land Trust, a Bethlehem-based group that advo­cates for Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns against Israel. The fes­ti­val will take place in Lon­don from Decem­ber 23, 2013 until Jan­u­ary 5, 2014. It will fea­ture, among other pro­grams, a com­edy show called “Stand Up Against the Wall,” a “Beth­le­hem Christ­mas din­ner,” and a debate titled “Both sides of the Bar­rier – Sep­a­ra­tion or Secu­rity?” which will fea­ture Jeff Halper, the founder of the Israeli Com­mit­tee Against House Demo­li­tions; Leila San­sour, a res­i­dent of Beth­le­hem; Yif­tah Curiel, the Pub­lic Affairs spokesman at the Embassy of Israel in Lon­don; and Alan John­son, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Britain Israel Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Research Centre.

Both the bill­board and mock wall dis­play delib­er­ately fail to account for Israel’s legit­i­mate secu­rity con­cerns. While IAK claims that their bill­boards, “will be seen an esti­mated 4 mil­lion times,” those who view the bill­boards will not receive any infor­ma­tion about why the secu­rity bar­rier was built and what it has done to thwart ter­ror­ist attacks.

Indeed, Israel’s secu­rity bar­rier was built as a defen­sive mea­sure that was first approved by the Israeli gov­ern­ment in 2002 to pre­vent Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ists from reach­ing their civil­ian tar­gets inside Israel. Since it was built, there has been a sharp decrease in Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ism – not because there have been no attempted attacks, but because the secu­rity bar­rier has impeded ter­ror­ists from reach­ing Israeli cities, or has forced them to take more cir­cuitous routes, lead­ing to their capture.

Although both cam­paigns seek to rein­force the point that Beth­le­hem has become inac­ces­si­ble because of the wall, thou­sands of Chris­t­ian pil­grims from around the world visit Beth­le­hem for Christ­mas Eve cel­e­bra­tions every year. This year was no excep­tion, accord­ing to news reports, the turnout was “the high­est in years.”

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