Annual Report for Countering Antisemitism Shows Mixed Results

The year 2010 saw a slight decrease in the number of antisemitic incidents around the world and in their seriousness, in comparison to the year 2009, which had been a record year, as a result of operation Cast Lead. At the same time, the number of incidents is still higher by tens of percentage points compared to the level during the 1990’s, and antisemitism can be seen to be getting stronger. All of this emerges from the Annual Report of the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism presented yesterday at a press conference at the Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem with the participation of Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, and Amos Hermon, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Task Force on Antisemitism

Also emerging from the report is that the year 2010 saw an increase in organized activity aimed at the deligitimization of Israel as a Jewish state. The blurring of lines between legitimate criticism of Israel and demonizing the State of Israel has turned into the major strategic threat not only to the State of Israel but also to the Jewish communities around the world. The report was presented during the week of January 27th, the day marking around the world the commemoration of the Holocaust and the struggle against antisemitism, since it is the day the Auschwitz death camp was liberated.

Despite showing a slight decrease in the number of antisemitic incidents around the world, antisemitism as a phenomenon is getting stronger, expressed in propaganda and antisemitic incitement, spray painting of swastikas and hate slogans, physical violence against Jews, attacks against Jewish institutions and facilities, damaging tombstones, inflammatory political statements and attempts at terror attacks. Surveys carried out in Europe show that a third of the continent’s population holds negative opinions towards Jews and that people allow themselves, more than in the past, to express themselves publicly against Jews. Even though in many countries there is awareness of antisemitism and there is ongoing activity to combat it, it seems that this awareness does not have an influence on the level of antisemitism among the public. The violent antisemitism in the field is carried out by a very small segment of the population, but is supported by ever-growing segments of the population both in the Muslim world and the West.

The report also shows that the danger to Jewish communities posed by Muslim communities around the world continues to be seen. Physical attacks against Jews and Jewish facilities are carried out on a daily basis, mainly in Western Europe. A few of the incidents in 2010 which stand out: attacks thwarted in U.S., India and Turkey and bomb attacks against Jewish institutions in Kyrgyzstan, Egypt, France, Germany and Belgium. Antisemitic incidents were also seen in Sweden, the synagogue in Malmo becoming a target for attack.

The major strategic threat against the State of Israel and Jewish communities in 2010 is the campaign of deligitimization, denying Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. This year also saw a continued escalation of delitimization activity led by antisemitic, Palestinian and extreme left organizations. The most obvious incident is the Turkish flotilla in May 2010. In most countries, the demonstrations organized against Israel on this matter did not become violent against the Jewish communities. The exception on this were in France and Austria: in France there were 15 violent attacks recorded against Jews, including an attack against a young Jew in the Paris subway, stones thrown at the Habad emissary and Molotov cocktails hurled at a Jewish old age home. In Austria were 17 attacks following the flotilla, 5 of them violent.

A trend which can been seen to be on the rise in 2010 is the use of Nazi ideology by extreme Islamic elements. Beside Holocaust denial known in the past, this year saw the propagation of the idea of the Holocaust being a phenomenon to be imitated; the Holocaust as part of a series of incidents in which European Jews are murdered for their crimes becomes legitimate parlance in Arab circles.

Another phenomenon that can be seen is the “modern blood libel” that began in 2009 in Sweden, when Israel was accused of harvesting organs from Palestinians. This year, the blood libel found expression in Ukraine, Algeria, Haiti, Kosovo and the Maldives. A delegation of ophthalmologists that recently went to help the local population in the Maldives were met with demonstrations, flag burning and calls for the expulsion of doctors who were seen as having come to harvest organs.

Iran continues to be an additional center for the propagation of antisemitism: the Iranian regime continues to see antisemitism as a strategic weapon against Israel, guiding various groups towards anti-Israel and antisemitic activity, mainly in Europe and Latin America. Besides activity with the leftist and Islamic organizations, this year there was a marked increase in Iran’s links with organizations of the extreme right, including neo-Nazis in Hungary, Greece, France and Chile. In Chile, for instance, a neo-Nazi group caught trying to carry out a violent act against Jews was found to be working under Iran’s direction.

Also seen this year was a rise in strength of the extreme right in Germany, Austria, Greece, Sweden and Hungary – where the extreme rightist party JOBBIK won 47 parliamentary seats out of 386. In Slavic countries of the CIS this year, there was the same low number of antisemitic incidents. The situation of Jewish communities in the Muslim countries of the CIS continues to be a sensitive one, dependent on the stability of the secular regimes. So, for instance, in response to the political turnaround in Kyrgyzstan, antisemitic feelings were aroused and a bomb was launched at the synagogue building in Bishkek during the High Holy Days and anti-Jewish slogans were painted on the walls.