17 Maggio 2011

Antisemitism Worldwide 2010 General Analysis





A significant decline in the level of antisemitic incidents was recorded in 2010 compared to 2009, a peak year. An analysis of records from our database for the year 2010, covering major incidents of physical violence, direct threats and major acts of vandalism, points to a decrease of 46 percent, from 1,129 to 614 such events (see Appendices). However, the 2010 total is the third highest since worldwide recording of antisemitic incidents began at the end of the 1980s. Moreover, it represents an alarming continuation of the high level of antisemitic activity in some major countries during recent years. It should be emphasized that harassment, which includes verbal threats, insults and abusive language, has increased dramatically in recent years and constitutes a major disturbance to the daily lives and well being of Jewish individuals and communities. It should be recalled that 2009 was an extraordinary year in terms of numbers of antisemitic incidents, primarily due to Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s war in Gaza, which especially in the first months of the year provoked unprecedented anti-Jewish activity worldwide. Since Jews and Israelis are often conflated into a single collective, events in the Middle East often provoke anti-Jewish groups and individuals into perpetrating hostile activities against local Jews. Notably, Operation Cast Lead, which was perceived by various circles, and particularly in western Europe, as an unjust and disproportional blow to the people of Gaza and an attempt to topple the elected Hamas government, had a considerable impact on hostile activity against Jews. The more dramatic the events in the Middle East and the more graphically Israel’s actions are described in the media − and especially if they are perceived to have deliberately harmed innocent people − the greater the hostility and violence directed against Jews worldwide. In 2010 a major trigger event was Israel’s interception of a flotilla of ships bound for Gaza on May 31. The confrontation over the flotilla, and especially the action on the MV Mavi Marmara, lasted only a short time and caused a relatively small number of casualties. It seems that for this reason, and despite the extensive media coverage, it did not instigate a significant wave of antisemitic incidents compared to Operation Cast Lead. That being said, there were attempts to harm Jewish institutions in the wake of some anti-Israel demonstrations. The difference between the considerable impact of Operation Cast Lead on the level of antisemitic activities and the relatively moderate impact of the flotilla event was noticeable for example in France. While 42 percent of all incidents in France in 2009 occurred in January during Operation Cast Lead, in 2010 only 12 percent were carried out during the month following the confrontation on the MV Mavi Marmara. However, as in the case of previous events, the impact of this clash was not uniform around the globe. While it was noticeable in western Europe, home to a large Muslim population and some very active radical left groups, it passed almost unfelt in eastern Europe and the CIS. According to TAU criteria and data, the highest number of violent incidents was registered in 2010 in the UK, France and Canada, amounting to about 60 percent of all incidents worldwide.1 The level of violent incidents, particularly physical assaults, remained very high in these countries even compared to 2009. In France, the SPCJ (Jewish Community Protection Service) reported a 44 percent drop in all types of antisemitic events, from 832 in 2009 to 466 in 2010, including a more moderate decrease in acts of violence and vandalism, from 174 to 131. But a closer analysis shows that incidents of physical street violence perpetrated against Jews increased from 37 in 2009 to 57 in 2010. In the UK, too, the CST (Community Security Trust) reported a 31 percent decrease, from 926 incidents of all types in 2009 to 639 in 2010. However, the combined total of assaults, damage to property and desecrations showed only an 8 percent decrease. Although 2009 marked a crest in the antisemitic curve, the CST emphasized that the total in 2010 was 17 percent higher than in 2008. With the exception of 2009, 2010 represented the highest annual total in the UK since CST began recording antisemitic incidents in 1984. The picture that emerges, based on data from the UK and France, corresponds to that from other countries in western Europe, where a large number of antisemitic incidents have been perpetrated in recent years. A decline in antisemitic activity in 2010 was reported from other regions in the world as well. For example, the number of events in Australia in 2010 amounted to one-third of that in 2009, despite a rise in the amount of insults directed against Jews on their way to or from synagogue. As in western Europe, however, the level of violent incidents remained relatively high. According to Jeremy Jones, who has written the annual reports on antisemitism in Australia since 1989, incidents of assault, arson, personal harassment and vandalism in 2010 totaled the fourth highest over the past twenty years. Moreover, a closer analysis of the data points to an increase of 60 percent in the number of physical assaults and acts of vandalism in 2010 compared to 2009. In Canada, the League of Human Rights of B’nai Brith reported a small increase of 3.3 percent in the overall number of antisemitic events in 2010 compared to 2009. This was mainly due to the large number of acts of harassment. While based on our criteria, the combined figure for acts of violence, vandalism and threats showed a 30 percent decrease, compared to 2009 it was still significantly higher than in 2008. Moreover, only a minor decrease was observed in the number of physical assaults compared to 2009. A trend of decline, particularly in violent incidents, compared to 2009 was observed in data available from the USA. The year 2010 saw a continued decline in violent antisemitic incidents in the CIS countries, especially in Russia, where dozens of incidents occurred annually during most of the last decades. The decrease was substantial mainly in the category of physical violence against individuals while Jewish communal facilities remained a target for antisemitic perpetrators albeit to a lesser extent. As in previous years, racist attacks were directed mostly against foreign workers, mainly from Central Asia and the Caucasus. Increased activity of law enforcement agencies against racist groups, particularly in Russia, may be one reason for the decrease of hate crimes in general and antisemitic violence in particular. An increase in attacks on Jewish sites was recorded in the second half of the year in Latin America, probably influenced by the flotilla events. Such activity was particularly evident in Chile where the Palestinian diaspora is the fourth largest in the world. In Venezuela, the flotilla incident triggered a further rise in antisemitic allegations, which became an integral part of extreme anti-Israel propaganda of governmental and pro-Chavez circles. Countless antisemitic diatribes, speeches, press articles and especially electronic posts in almost every possible form on the internet were recorded in 2010. The central themes were Jewish-Zionist world power and conspiracies, demonization and delegitimization of Israel, mainly by comparing it to Nazi Germany and labeling it an apartheid state, and the demand that local Jewish communities renounce the State of Israel in principle. It is always difficult to point to a direct link between propaganda and a specific violent incident. Nonetheless, Jewish activists continue to express their concern over unrestrained anti-Israel propaganda and demonstrations, organized by extreme leftists together with radical Muslims, and particularly over the demonization of Israel, which reinforces tensions and often feeds anti-Jewish prejudices and hatred. In 2010, slogans such as “Death to Israel,” “Israeli murderers” or “Jews murderers” were shouted intermittently during attacks on Jews and Jewish sites, or during demonstrations against Israel prior to attacks, highlighting the absence of any distinction between Israelis and Jews living outside Israel. As noted in our previous reports, in addition to members of extreme right and neo-Nazi groups, young Muslims continued to be the perpetrators of many physical street attacks in several countries. The year 2010 saw the continued strengthening of extreme right and populist parties in Europe. While in the postcommunist countries of eastern and central Europe, their members feel free to use antisemitic expressions, in western Europe the larger and more established parties try to dissociate themselves from antisemitism, declaring their support for Israel and directing their campaigns mainly against Muslims. Jewish communities, however, refrain from supporting these parties, and their racist statements and traditional adherence to antisemitism still arouse aversion. Finally, it should be noted that the annual totals of antisemitic incidents in the last decade have been significantly higher than those registered in the 1990s. While one of the reasons for this increase might be improved monitoring and reporting in some countries, an escalation in numbers of antisemitic incidents was reported by countries such as the UK, Canada, France and Australia, which have kept systematic records for over two decades. A disturbing outcome of random street violence has been the decision of religious Jews to avoid wearing a skullcap or other external symbols that might reveal their Jewishness. It might thus be assumed that this factor has had some effect on the level of antisemitic activity which otherwise could have been much higher. The conclusion drawn from the above is therefore pessimistic. Despite the direct impact visible in certain cases between Middle East confrontations such as Operation Cast Lead and the rise in numbers of antisemitic incidents, the totals of recorded incidents continue to remain much higher than in the past, regardless of such events. The explanation lies in the combining of traditional antisemitism centered on negative stereotypes of the Jew, the perception of the State of Israel as a Jewish state bearing negative Jewish character traits; and the adoption of such stereotypes not only by neo-Nazis and extremist right-wingers but also by radical Muslim youth. Heinz Fromm, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Germany (BfVBundesamt fuer Verfassungschutz), noted in an interview with Der Spiegel (July 11) that these two camps share a “common concept of the enemy: Israel and the Jews altogether.” A similar analysis was made by Eric de Rothschild, president of SPCJ: “More than 10 years after the resurgence of antisemitism at a level that nobody expected, it is clear that it has settled permanently in our society, despite the effective action of the police and justice to prosecute,” he wrote in the introduction to the organization’s annual report on France. In the same vein, the authors of the audit of the Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada, Ruth Klein and Anita Bromberg, noted that “the steady march of this type of bigotry [antisemitism] has been relentless in the past decade, with a more than fourfold increase in just the last ten years.”