EU anti-Semitism report called `misleading'
By Sharon Sadeh and Shlomo Shamir
A new report on anti-Semitism commissioned by the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), identifies most of the perpetrators of anti-Semitic acts as "young white Europeans," influenced by extreme right-wing political ideas.
Other perpetrators were young Muslims and "people of North African origin," the report said; however, it noted that the press had exaggerated the role of young Muslim immigrants in the incidents.
The new report, made public yesterday in Strasbourg in the presence of European Parliament President Pat Cox and EUMC director Beate Winker, contrasted with controversial findings of last year's EUMC-sponsored study, which the body shelved, citing incomplete data and controversial methodology, after it was leaked to the press in December 2003.
Last year's report predominantly blamed young Arabs and Muslims for rising anti-Semitism. This year the report said: "Although it is not easy to generalize, the largest group of perpetrators ... appears to be young, disaffected white Europeans." The report, including data on anti-Semitism and hostility to Jews in Europe since 2002, concludes, "There were many incidents of Jews being assaulted and insulted, attacks against synagogues, cemeteries and other Jewish property, and arson at a Jewish school."
Jewish leaders in the U.S. and Europe blasted the report, accusing the authors of purposely avoiding identifying who was responsible for anti-Semitic incidents in Europe. Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress, said that the report's authors were afraid to present the causes of the latest wave of anti-Semitism.
The 344-page report maintains that France had the most significant rise in instances of anti-Semitism, with 313 incidents, a six-fold increase since 2002. In Belgium the number of incidents doubled, while in Germany, the number of anti-Semitic incidents dropped, though increased in severity.
Jewish leaders said the report's defining the perpetrators of anti-Semitic acts as "young white Europeans," was mistaken and misleading, making it possible to keep
the real identity of those responsible hidden, and added the majority are Muslims and supporters of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The president of the European Jewish Congress, Cobi Benatoff, said he noticed "a number of contradictions" between the shelved report and the new one, but that he welcomed the latter's publication. On the other hand, the general secretary of the European Jewish Congress, Serge Cwajgenbaum, said that the new report was "full of contradictions."
Blaming "young white Europeans" for anti-Semitic incidents, he said, directly contradicted police reports that specifically noted the perpetrators were Muslims. "How can you fight anti-Semitism without pointing to the identity of those responsible?" he asked.
The director-general of the U.S. Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, yesterday called the report "disappointing.
Jewish community leaders throughout Europe were interviewed anonymously in a 50-page appendix to the report, in which most pointed to "immigrants" or "young people with Arab appearance" as responsible for the incidents. Jewish leaders told Haaretz that having their opinions appear in an appendix rather than as an integral part of the report showed that the EUMC did not believe these opinions to have research significance.
The new report recommends that European leaders make clear that they oppose anti-Semitism and racism, and that EU states give teeth to laws designed to stamp out anti-Semitism. The new report also calls for an institutionalized framework to be set up for efficient documentation of anti-Semitic acts. It notes that teachers have a definitive role to play in eradicating anti-Semitism and racism.
Minister for Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky said yesterday that he welcomed the fact that after a long period of denial, the EU has decided to look squarely at the problem of anti-Semitism. "The report proves what we have been saying for a long time - collaboration between the extreme right and Muslim elements in Europe creates a dangerous synergy," Sharansky said. "I call upon Europe's leaders to adopt the conclusions of the report and work harder against this affliction."
This article was on Haaretz, and can be found Here.
Edited by Erikl, 01 April 2004 - 10:04 PM.