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January 11, 2016

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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December 18, 2015

ADL Reports at Least 75 Anti-Muslim Incidents In US Since Paris Attacks

Fol­low­ing the shooting in San Bernardino that left 14 people dead and 22 injured, there has been a continued escalation in hos­til­ity and attacks throughout the U.S. against the Mus­lim com­mu­nity and those perceived as Muslim.

Islamic Center of Alameda's boarded up window, after it was shattered by a brick

Islamic Center of Alameda’s boarded up window, after it was shattered by a brick (CBS)

Since the San Bernardino shooting on December 2, at least 27 anti-Muslim incidents have been reported in the U.S., raising the total number of incidents since the November 13 Paris attacks to at least 75.Between the Paris attacks and the San Bernardino shooting, ADL tracked approximately 48 anti-Muslim incidents. These numbers are based on reports ADL has collected from media and other sources.

Incidents such as assaults, vandalism, and threats targeting Muslim individuals and institutions in the U.S. tend to noticeably spike in the aftermath of terrorist attacks linked to Islamic extremists in the U.S or abroad.

Below are selected examples of alleged anti-Muslim incidents in the weeks following the San Bernardino attacks, both criminal and non-criminal:

Assaults

  • Grand Rapids, Michigan: Aman holding up a convenience store reportedly called the Sikh manager a “terrorist” and suggested he was a member of ISIS before shooting him in the face. (December 12)
  • Queens, New York: A man beat a Muslim store owner in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens. The attacker reportedly stated, “I kill Muslims.” (December 5)

Vandalism

  • Hawthorne, California: “Jesus” graffiti and a fake hand grenade were left at two mosques. (December 12)
  • Alameda, California: A brick was thrown through a mosque’s window, shattering the window. (December 10)
  • Palm Beach, Florida: The Islamic Center of Palm Beach was vandalized, its windows smashed and furniture overturned. (December 3)

Threats and Intimidation

  • Cullman, Alabama: KKK fliers try to recruit Alabamans to stop “the spread of Islam.” (December 10)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A severed pig’s head was thrown at a mosque’s door. (December 7)
  • Vandalia, Ohio: A 7th grader threatened to shoot and kill a 6th grade Muslim schoolmate, reportedly calling him a “terrorist,” a “towel head,” and a “son of ISIS.” (December 7)
  • St. Louis, Missouri: A threatening voicemail was left at the Islamic Center of St. Louis. The message reportedly stated “I was a Marine, I killed a lot of Muslims, watched a lot of you die and burn…You want to kill? Come my way. I will cut your f-cking head off.” (December 5)
  • Fredericksburg, Virginia: In advance of a public hearing about a new mosque, anti-Muslim fliers were posted around town that read “No Jihad in Fredericksburg.” (December 5)

 

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November 23, 2015

Anti-Semite Claims Prominent BDS Activist Invited Him To Berkeley Conference

Anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Kevin Barrett claims he was accepted to present a paper at the 3rd Islamophobia and Civil Society Conference in Paris, sponsored by University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Race & Gender.

Kevin Barrett's GoFundMe page

Kevin Barrett’s GoFundMe page

The conference, which appears to have recently been canceled, was organized by BDS activist and Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian, the Chairman of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the leading organization providing anti-Zionist training and education to students and Muslim community organizations in the country.

Barrett, a former University of Wisconsin-Madison instructor, is a fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to Iran’s Eng­lish lan­guage pro­pa­ganda news net­work Press TV and Vet­er­ans Today, a U.S.-based web­site that presents anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries as news. Even Barrett himself seems surprised he was accepted to present at Bazian’s conference. On his GoFundMe page, where he has raised $2,175 to fund his trip to Paris, he wrote, “Amazingly, I just had a hard-hitting, truth-telling paper accepted for a mainstream academic conference: The 3rd Islamophobia and Civil Society Conference to be held in Paris December 11th-12th 2015.” Barrett hoped that by presenting at the conference, he could send the message, “Keep our universities open to people who are willing to think taboo thoughts and ask the hard questions!”

In Barrett’s synopsis of the paper he was accepted to present, titled “Taboo on Questioning: Silencing the Muslim Other,” he alludes to his typical anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. In a discussion on whether the January 2015 terror attacks at the Charlie Hebdo office and a kosher supermarket in Paris were “largely fabricated by Western security agencies to mobilize public opinion for a war on Islam,” Barrett examines questions like “What are we to make of Netanyahu’s repeated threats during the run-up to the shootings that if France recognized or sided with Palestine it would be hit by terrorists?”

Trying to blame Jews or Israel for acts of terrorism is nothing new for Barrett. Some recent examples of his anti-Semitic conspiracy theories include:

  • In a Novem­ber 13 Vet­er­ans Today arti­cle titled “Another French False Flag?” Bar­rett states that “Since we now know the Char­lie Hebdo attack was a…false flag by the usual sus­pects (NATO hard­lin­ers and Zion­ists), can we safely make the same assump­tion about these new Fri­day the 13th Paris atroc­i­ties? I think we can.” Bar­rett added “The first ques­tion, as always, is: Who gains? And the answer, as always, is: Author­i­tar­ian insid­ers. Zion­ists. Mil­i­tarists. Islam­o­phobes. New World Order-Out-Of-Chaos freaks.”
  • In Barrett’s book We Are Not Char­lie Hebdo! Free Thinkers Ques­tion the French 9/11 he claims that the January Paris attacks were just one in a long his­tory of events – such as the 9/11 attacks and the 2001 anthrax poi­son­ings – per­pe­trated by Israel in order to “incite hatred of Mus­lims and sol­i­dar­ity with Israel.”
  • In a Jan­u­ary 20 Press TV article titled “Zion­ist NWO mur­ders Iran­ian gen­eral, Amer­i­can film­maker,” Barrett claims that “The Zion­ists cre­ated ISIL and sent it to fight Mus­lims and Chris­tians in Syria and Iraq…New World Order Zion­ism is also tar­get­ing the USA for destruction.”
  • Bar­rett stated in a Feb­ru­ary 17 Press TV arti­cle titled “9/11 attack was Zion­ist coup d-etat to seize power in US: Scholar” that “…Zion­ist pre-emptive mur­der­ers excel at ‘killing the future’…A team of Zionist-liked pro­fes­sional killers exe­cuted a total of 77 peo­ple [2011 attacks in Norway], while Zionist-freemasonic assets in the Nor­we­gian police and mil­i­tary stood by.”
  • In the same Feb­ru­ary 2015 arti­cle Bar­rett stated that “The Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 attacks in the United States were a Zion­ist ‘coup d’etat’ to seize power in the coun­try and launch a per­ma­nent war on Islam on behalf of Israel…”

 

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