Monday, June 02, 2008

2007 rise in Anti-semitism 

Anti-Semitic incidents in Canada hit record high in 2007

By Rhonda Spivak
Tue., June 03, 2008 Iyyar 29, 5768

WINNIPEG - Anti-Semitic incidents in Canada hit a record high in 2007, according to a recently released report by the League of Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada.

The group recorded 1,042 anti-Semitic incidents in Canada in 2007, up 11.4% since 2006. A 59.1% increase was noted on Canadian college and university campuses.

In Montreal, anti-Semitic incidents increased 16 percent from 2006 to 2007, and regional Quebec showed a significant increase of 282 percent from the previous year.

The study also showed that over the past 10 years anti-Semitic incidents have jumped 400 percent in Canada.

Nearly 30 percent of all incidents in 2007 were attributed to internet activity. Of these, nearly one-third involved threatening or harassing communications.

Synagogues were targeted in 22 incidents, in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Richmond British Columbia, Hamilton and Barrie, Ontario. There were 28 incidents of violence in 2007, down from 30 in 2006. Incidents of harassment were up from 588 in 2006 to 699 in 2007.

"The 2007 findings indicate that anti-Semitism is not just at the fringes of Canadian society," Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B'nai Brith Canada said in a news release. He also noted that incidents are no longer "primarily confined to urban centers."


Anti-Semitic incidents rise in Germany, Australia, U.S. in 2007

By Anshel Pfeffer and Asaf Uni, Haaretz Correspondent
Thu., February 21, 2008 Adar1 15, 5768

The annual global report on anti-Semitism being presented to the cabinet Sunday morning points to a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Germany, Australia, the United States and Ukraine together with an overall decrease in Western Europe. The largest number of incidents were recorded in Britain, followed by France.

Under pressure from Diaspora Jewish community leaders, particularly the Board of Deputies of British Jews, it was decided this year not to cite numbers of incidents but only to report general trends. In previous years there were discrepancies between the numbers in the Israeli report and data published by other countries.

The report, a joint government and Jewish Agency project, indicates a decline in anti-Semitic incidents in 2007 after the steep jump registered for 2006 in the wake of the Second Lebanon War. In countries where an increase did occur, such as Germany and Australia, this was tied to the strengthening of the radical right, along with aggression by local Muslim communities.

Rising anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S., including a 30-percent increase in New York, is also associated with racist activity by right-wing extremist groups.

In Ukraine, last year saw a move from spontaneous anti-Semitic acts to more organized activity within parties with anti-Semitic platforms and the distribution of anti-Semitic propaganda at universities and colleges. Contrary to President Victor Yushchenko's declarations during his visit to Israel two months ago, the government only recently began countering such activity.

Similar trends can be seen in other Eastern European countries. Anti-Semitism is rife in Russia, alongside general racism and xenophobia, but the central government has cracked down on the phenomenon over the past year.

The security director for the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Michael Whine, declined to comment on Britain's topping the list of anti-Semitic incidents in the Israeli report, saying only, "we are still going over our data."

In related news, the Muslim Council of Britain will participate for the first time in today's National Holocaust Memorial Day, chosen for the date that Auschwitz was liberated. The large umbrella organization decided two months ago to end its six-year boycott of the memorial day, a decision that followed accusations in recent years by the British government and Jewish organizations that its positions were anti-Semitic.

The city of Liverpool will host the main event, where speakers will include Britain's Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams.


Report: British Jews facing more anti-Semitic sentiment than ever

By Assaf Uni, Haaretz Correspondent
Mon., February 18, 2008 Adar1 12, 5768

LONDON - Britain's Jewish community faces an unprecedented level of anti-Semitism and feels more threatened than ever, according to the report of the all-party parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism, which is to be released Thursday.

The panel found an increase in "anti-Semitic discourse," particularly among leftist groupings, and recommends a series of actions to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.

Panel chairman Denis MacShane, who will present the report's conclusions to Prime Minister Tony Blair Thursday, told Haaretz Wednesday that the report rings the "alarm bells" for Britain.
The committee was created about a year ago in order "to investigate the current problem, identify the sources of contemporary anti-Semitism and make recommendations that we believe will improve the current situation."

Over 100 written statements were submitted to the 14 committee members, who span the political spectrum. Experts, politicians and public figures testified before the panel in four separate hearings.

The panel was initiated by members of Parliament and not intended to be an official inquiry.

According to the report, the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in Britain has risen since 2000, accompanied by a decline in public support for Jews.

The panel attributed the escalation to flare-ups in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (but did not specify a direct connection), as well as the "anti-Semitic discourse" being held openly among Muslims, the extreme left and, to a lesser extent, the extreme right.

"It is this phenomenon that has contributed to an atmosphere where Jews have become more anxious and more vulnerable to abuse and attack than at any other time for a generation or longer," the report said.

"We are ringing the alarm bells for Britain," MacShane told Haaretz, to tell the people that the country's Jews are unable to live lives free of fear and to enjoy cultural, community and religious life without the constant fear of being attacked.

He said that one of the most important findings of the panel is that most Britons are simply unaware of the serious problem of anti-Semitism in their country.

Great Britain is home to 300,000 Jews, two-thirds of whom live in the Greater London area. The recommendations in the 66-page report include better reporting of anti-Semitic incidents on the part of the police and an investigation of why only ten percent of such incidents result in a suspect being accused.

"The Panel recommends that the Home Office require police forces nationwide to record such incidents using the current Metropolitan police model of categorizing such incidents as both racist and anti-Semitic."

It "calls on the Department for Communities and Local Government to commission an annual survey of attitudes and tensions between Britain's communities to be monitored by the Commission for Racial Equality," and places great emphasis on combating anti-Semitism on university campuses and on limiting "traditional broadcast and internet access to racist, including anti-Semitic, material."

One of the more interesting chapters of the report deals with the public mood in Britain, which, according to the authors, changes markedly "when Jews are discussed, whether in print or broadcast, at universities, or in public or social settings."

The report warns against the growth of a "new anti-Semitism" that transfers the traditional stereotypes about Jews to Israel, as a Zionist state. "We heard evidence that contemporary anti-Semitism in Britain is now more commonly found on the left of the political spectrum than on the right."

MacShane believes that the academic boycott of Israel by the Association of University Teachers (which was later reversed) and the decision by the Anglican Church to re-examine its investments in companies with ties to the Israel Defense Forces contribute to anti- Semitism.

He said the decision to focus on Israel while ignoring all the non-democratic regimes in the world is hypocritical and contributes to the Jews' feeling like "second-class citizens" who are spurned by certain elements in the country.

The publication of the report coincides with the celebration this month of the 350th anniversary of the Jewish presence in Britain. "I've been here for 11 years and I never thought it would get so bad," said Linda Cohen, an Israeli who was assaulted about two weeks ago in an anti-Semitic incident in the largely Jewish London neighborhood of Golders Green.

Cohen, the owner of a Jewish-Israeli cafe, said, "I didn't know there was anti-Semitism in Britain until two young men assaulted me verbally and physically after asking whether this was a Jewish cafe."

According to the report, anti-Semitism in contemporary Britain is a complex issue. "Anti-Semitism is not one-dimensional. It is perpetrated in different ways by different groups within society and for this reason it is hard to identify."

MacShane hopes the report will draw a lot of attention to the situation of Britain's Jewish community. He says another MP on the committee told him that his constituents are completely unaware of the things heard by the panel over the last year.

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