Economist imperiously lectures Europe’s Jews on their exaggerated fears of antisemitism

In fairness, a characteristically anonymous article in the June 7th print edition of the Economist, titled ‘Of guns and ballot boxes‘, about European antisemitism, does partly acknowledge the seriousness of the problem – exemplified most dramatically by the recent jihadist shooting attack in Brussels (and the 2012 attack in Toulouse), as well as the success of some extreme-right parties in the EU elections.  

However, it doesn’t take long for the author to descend into PC-inspired obfuscations.

The Economist writes:

There was a time when the new Europe opening after the fall of the Berlin Wall seemed to augur a golden age for European Jewry. Jewish life was restored where it had been extinguished, and the expanding borders of a post-national Europe offered new opportunities to Jews scattered across borders. Plainly, nationalism is reasserting itself. And lingering anti-Semitism of the old, Christian-based sort is now mixed with radical Islamism among disenchanted Muslims.

However, a survey by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), cited by the Economist elsewhere in the article, contradicts the claim that “Christian-based” antisemitism “is now “mixed” with antisemitism by “disenchanted Muslims”.  Here’s breakdown of the relevant data from the FRA on the perpetrators of antisemitic harassment:

Perpetrators of the most serious incidents of antisemitic harassment were described by FRA respondents: Across Europe, 27% of perpetrators were perceived as someone with “Muslim extremist views”; 22% were perceived as “left-wing political views”; and 19% as “right-wing views”, and 7% as ‘someone with an extremist Christian view’.

Note that, contrary to the Economist claim, not only did very few victims of antisemitic harassment characterize the perpetrator as “Christian” (7%), but nearly 50% described their perpetrator as either a Muslim extremist or someone with “left-wing political views”.   Indeed, as should be obvious to commentators who take modern antisemitism seriously, while the extreme right continues to present a serious problem, the newly resurgent European antisemitism is increasingly a leftist and Islamist phenomenon

In addition to such rhetorical slights of hand, later in the article the Economist author begins lecturing Jews on the alleged folly of taking too seriously warnings that “Europe is no longer safe for Jews”.

Whilst the Economist putatively acknowledges Jewish fears in this passage:

A survey last year by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency showed that nearly a third of Jews had considered leaving in the previous five years because they did not feel safe. Three-quarters felt that anti-Semitism was worsening, with the situation in Hungary and France especially bad.

They then reach the following conclusion:

Yet, worrying as such changes are, they may not be a signal for Jews to pack up and leave. To state the obvious, anti-Semitism in Europe is not sponsored by governments, and there are no organised pogroms or Nuremberg laws. Berlin boasts the world’s fastest-growing Jewish community. Jews are free to stay or leave. Moving to Israel may fulfill a religious, cultural or political need for many Jews, but it is not safer than staying in Europe.

So, the Economist seems to be telling the large number of Jews (up to one-third of the total Jewish population) who have considered leaving Europe – and moving to Israel – because they don’t feel safe, that their fears are irrational.  In addition to the hubris of such a suggestion, additional data from the FRA survey paints a very clear picture of why Jews would feel freer and safer in Israel.

  • One third (33%) of Jews in the EU worry about being physically attacked because of being Jewish. The UK has the lowest levels of fear, with 28% worrying about verbal abuse and 17% worrying about physical attack. Highest is France, at 70% and 60% respectively.
  • Across Europe, 27% of Jews in the EU at least occasionally avoid local places because they do not feel safe there because they are Jewish. Belgium (42%), Hungary (41%) and France (35%) are the worst places for this.

And, most disturbingly:

  • 68% of Jews in the EU at least occasionally avoid wearing items in public that might identify them as Jewish. The figure for the UK is 59%; the highest figures were in Sweden (79%) and France (75%).

Though there are of course a small number of anti-Jewish incidents in the state perpetrated by a minuscule number of Israeli Arabs, all Jews living in Israel (and European Jews considering emigrating there) are secure in the knowledge that the government will use the power of the state – a nation whose very raison d’être is to serve as a Guardian of the Jews – to fiercely protect their freedom.

One needn’t resort to unserious hyperbole about the “return to the 1930’s” to take Jewish fears seriously, and be gravely concerned that – 70 years after the Holocaust – a disturbingly high percentage of what’s left of European Jewry once again feel themselves under the yoke of the continent’s oldest hatred.

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Economist removes antisemitic cartoon; apologizes for ‘inadvertent’ offense

Earlier today we posted about the following cartoon published at The Economist – used to illustrate an article about negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 – which evoked the antisemitic narrative complaining of the injurious effects of Jewish power on U.S. foreign policy.

Within the past hour, we learned that the Economist removed the cartoon from the online edition of the article, and issued the following addendum:

econ

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Email shows The Independent got it wrong on Antisemitism working definition

Recently we posted about a peculiar essay about the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism at The Independent, written by a journalist who’s admitted to being prejudiced against Jews.  Though you can read our post to see several of her erroneous claims about antisemitism, and Israel more broadly, we recently were provided evidence which refutes one specific claim made in the article – that the EU retired the Working Definition.

indy headline

First, here’s the EUMC Working Definition:

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:

  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Despite Bar-Hillel’s enthusiastic suggestion that the Working Definition was retired, which she claimed (per the Livingstone Formulation), served to allow Jews to stifle the free speech of Israel’s critics, we pointed to the following facts:

  • In 2010, the UK All-Party Inquiry into antisemitism recommended that the Working Definition should be adopted and promoted by the Government and law enforcement agencies.
  • An official document published by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recommends the Working Definition as a valuable hate crime data collection tool for law enforcement agencies, and for educators.

Recently, a CiF Watch reader forwarded us her email exchange with a representative from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) – the successor agency to the EUMC (European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia). 

email 1

Now, here’s the FRA reply:

email 2

The next time a commentator hostile to Jews or Israel claims that the EU “retired” or “repudiated” the EUMC Working Definition, you can definitively respond that their Fundamental Rights Agency – per their own words – did nothing of the sort.  

As we’ve noted on numerous occasions, the Working Definition is not law.  

However, it does represent a widely respected and practical guide (formulated by NGOs and reps from the Tolerance and Non-Discrimination section of the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in 2005) used by law enforcement agencies and human rights bodies in the EU to help determine what constitutes anti-Jewish racism. 

Those committed to defending the fundamental human rights of Jews would be wise to follow their lead. 

Antisemitic reporter Mira Bar-Hillel pens op-ed (on antisemitism!) for The Independent

The Jews of today scare me and I find it almost impossible to talk to most of them, including relatives. Any criticism of the policies of Israel – including the disgraceful treatment of Holocaust survivors as well as refugees from murderous regimes – is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash. Goyim (gentiles) are often treated with ill-concealed contempt, yet the Jews are always the victims. Am I prejudiced against Jews? Alas, yes. - Mira Bar-Hillel

As we’ve reported previously, Mira Bar-Hillel is a British journalist who has admitted (per the quote above) to being prejudiced against Jews.  

Yet, despite this explicit admission of racism, editors at The Independent deemed her qualified to comment on the Ralph Miliband-Daily Mail antisemitism controversy in October – a column which dismissed charges of racism against the DM and accused Jews (per the Livingstone Formulation) of trying to “gag into submission any critic of Israel…”.

In her latest Indy op-ed (an essay addressing the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism), Bar-Hillel again regales British readers with her ‘penetrating insights’ into the danger posed by ‘false accusations of antisemitism’ by organized Jewry - a piece riddled with distortions.

False claim that ‘EU Working Definition of Antisemitism’ has been “retired”

Here’s the headline of the op-ed:

headlineHowever, as we noted in a previous post on the issue, it is untrue that “the EU has retired its working definition”.

To cite a few examples: 

  • In 2010, the UK All-Party Inquiry into antisemitism recommended that the Working Definition should be adopted and promoted by the Government and law enforcement agencies.
  • An official document published by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recommends the Working Definition as a valuable hate crime data collection tool for law enforcement agencies, and for educators.

False claim about Israeli Bedouin

Bar-Hillel writes:

There was not, in that lengthy and detailed definition, anything new or that I would disagree with – apart from a dangerous sting in the end. This stretched the definition of anti-Semitism from the simple 2,000-year-old Jew-hating and baiting to “attacking Israel … by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, or holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel.”

It was this dubious extension which has been used recently to gag, or at least mute, free speech and most criticism of Israel in the UK media and beyond.

For example, the Prawer Plan, now being enforced in Israel. Under it, between 40,000 and 70,000 Bedouin, nomads who became Israeli citizens in the 1950s, will be forcefully removed from land they roamed for centuries to make way for “military firing zones”.

First, Bar-Hillel (much like Glenn Greenwald) implicitly smears the Jewish community with charges that they work to stifle free speech.  

Further, as we demonstrated in a post last week, the number of Israeli Bedouin who will be relocated is not “between 40,000 and 70,000″ as Bar-Hillel claims.  Under what’s known as the Prawer-Begin Plan, most (about 60,000) of those currently living in unrecognized villages in the Negev will have their land legalized, while a much smaller number (30,000) will be moved a few kilometers (from their current encampments) to planned communities.  

Additionally, her claim that the land where some of these Bedouin currently reside will “make way for IDF “military firing zones” seems to be completely untrue.  Though new Israeli cities will be built where these encampments now stand, nobody is claiming that “military firing zones’ will be established in its place. (It’s possible Bar-Hillel is conflating the Israeli Negev with the South Hebron Hills, an area in the West Bank where a row over IDF “firing ranges” has indeed been reported.)

Almost no reports about the Bedouin issue in the British media?

Bar-Hillel, commenting more broadly on the Prawer-Begin plan for the Bedouin and the protests surrounding the row, also makes the following claim:

Moreover, only one newspaper in this country covered the proposal – or the extremely violent protests which followed.

However, a quick Google search shows that the Indy, Guardian, Telegraph and Financial Times have all reported on the issue.

‘Jewish pressure’ on the media?

Bar-Hillel then provides an explanation for the (erroneous) ‘fact’ that “only one newspaper in the country covered the proposal”. 

I can only speculate on the reasons why, but suspect that the “working definition”, which has recently allowed all those who criticise Israel – including myself – to be labelled anti-Semitic, had something to do with it.

Get it?  Bar-Hillel not only comes to the risible conclusion that British newspapers don’t provide enough coverage of Israel, but that this putative dearth of coverage is inspired by fear of being labeled antisemitic.

Of course, her working theory is undermined by recent studies on British media coverage of Israel (and, more specifically, the Guardian’s own data) which demonstrates quite the opposite: that news relating to the Jewish state represents something approaching an obsession to UK editors, reporters and commentators. 

Conclusive proof that British papers don’t fear accusations of antisemitism can of course also be found in the simple fact that Indy editors felt no hesitation in publishing an essay – on the topic of antisemitism – by a journalist who has admitted to possessing an antipathy towards Jews.  

If the organized Jewish community is indeed trying to stifle the free speech of anti-Semites, they’re clearly failing miserably at this task.

Why is a Swedish Jew filing for political asylum in her own country?

Last year we had the pleasure of interviewing a Swedish Jew (and Zionist activist) named Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, who recounted her experiences living in a country plagued by a dangerous rise in antisemitism.

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein speaks at a pro-Israel rally in Stockholm, September 2012. Courtesy Black on White.

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein speaks at a pro-Israel rally in Stockholm 2012. Courtesy Black on White.

As the recent poll on European antisemitism by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) confirmed, the already precarious situation for Sweden’s Jews has taken a turn for the worse, and Hernroth-Rothstein’s latest essay at Mosaic Magazine serves as an important personal story to add detail and nuance to the FRA data.

She writes:

Here in Stockholm this fall, we in the Jewish community have enjoyed our 21st annual Jewish film festival, a klezmer concert, and a number of other cultural diversions. I choose the word “diversions” advisedly. It’s thanks to such entertainments that so many of my fellow Jews can allow themselves to say that we’re doing okay here—that there’s no need to rock the boat or cause trouble.

But you know what? We are not okay, and this is not okay.

Kosher slaughter has been outlawed in my country since 1937, and a bill is now pending in parliament that would ban even the import and serving of kosher meat. Circumcision, another pillar of the Jewish faith, is likewise under threat. In my job as a political adviser to a Swedish party, I have dealt with two bills on this issue in the past year alone; a national ban is rapidly gaining political support in the parliament and among the Swedish public. When it comes to our religious traditions, those on both the Right and Left in Swedish politics find common ground; they take pride in defending both animals and children from the likes of us, and from what one politician has called our “barbaric practices.” 

Later, she provides a more personal glimpse into life for Swedish Jews.

In today’s Sweden, home to all of 20,000 Jews amidst a national population of some nine million, the public display of Jewish identity, like donning a kippah or wearing a Star of David pendant, puts an individual at severe risk of verbal harassment and, even worse, physical harm. Synagogues are so heavily guarded that Jewish tourists are turned away if they try to attend services unannounced. Inside the sanctuary, we celebrate our festivals and holy days under police protection. On the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, during the five-minute walk to the water for the ceremony of tashlikh, my young son asked a guard why so many policemen were accompanying us. Replied the officer: “so that no bad people can hurt you.”

This is the self-image—the reality—that Jewish children in Sweden grow up with: being Jewish means being under threat of harm from bad people. This is where we are at.

You can read the rest of Hernroth-Rothstein’s story and learn why she is filing for political asylum in her own country, here.

We also encourage you to read her passionate letter titled ‘How to survive as a Jew in Sweden? Shut up and fade into the woodwork‘.

For context on the situation in Sweden, you can read CST commentaries on the FRA poll about European antisemitism here, here, here and here.

Yes, boycotting the goods and services of six million Jews is certainly antisemitic.

An Australian named Antony Loewenstein penned a piece at ‘Comment is Free’ on Nov. 7 which not only endorsed the unfiltered hate of Max Blumenthal, but defended the claim that the BDS movement against Israel is not antisemitic – specifically justifying the boycott of (of all places) Hebrew University, the Israeli academic institution known for its history of promoting coexistence.

Loewenstein wrote the following:

Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center is an Israel-based organisation that claims to be a civil group “fighting for rights of hundreds of terror victims”. It is currently taking Jake Lynch, head of Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), to the Australian federal court. They assert that Lynch has allegedly breached the 1975 racial discrimination act by refusing to sponsor a fellowship application by Israeli academic Dan Avnon. Lynch and CPACS support BDS, and since Avnon works at Hebrew University.

Of course, as anyone who’s been to either its Givat Ram campus or its main campus at Mount Scopus can attest to, Hebrew University is where Jews and Arabs (both Christian and Muslim) can be found mingling freely in the classroom, the cafeteria, and other common areas – sometimes encountering each other for the first time. Indeed, it was no coincidence that the university was the target of a Hamas terrorist attack in 2002, where a bomb packed with shrapnel was placed in a bag in a crowded cafeteria, killing nine people – four Israelis and five foreign nationals – and injuring 85.

Loewenstein addresses the issue of BDS and antisemitism in the following sentence:

The Australian which has been driving the debate on the issue, publishing countless stories that deliberately conflates antisemitism and support for the BDS movement.

Interestingly, Lowenstein doesn’t spend any further space attempting to back up his argument. Indeed, as his own one-state advocacy demonstrates, BDS advocates who target the entire country and all of its institutions are typically not trying to undermine the legitimacy of the settlements but, rather, the legitimacy of the state’s existence within any borders.

As a comprehensive survey published recently by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) indicates, campaigns which seek the economic, cultural and academic exclusion of Israeli Jews is viewed as racist by a large majority of Europe’s Jews. This survey of Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of antisemitism in the EU (which covers the UK, France, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Italy Hungary, and Latvia) reported that 72 percent believed that the boycott of Israeli goods was antisemitic.

Perceptions of the moral implications of boycotting the only Jewish state should be contextualized within the overall results of the poll, which found that an increasing number of Jews in Europe fear for their safety, with nearly 30 percent of respondents having seriously considered emigrating due to antisemitism.  Additionally, 26 percent had experienced one or more incident of antisemitic harassment in the previous 12 months and, quite chillingly, nearly 70 percent “at least occasionally avoid wearing items in public that might identify them as Jewish”.

John-Paul Pagano, in his superb essay at The Tower on the legacy of Norman Geras, wrote the following on the moral double-standards at play which unite antisemitism and anti-Zionism:

Norm had little patience for the standard defense that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. “No, it isn’t,” he wrote, “unless it is.” He granted that the two are not necessarily the same, but he rejected the idea that simply announcing the difference grants immunity from charges of racism. “In the outpouring of hatred towards Israel today,” he wrote, “it scarcely matters what part of it is impelled by a pre-existing hostility towards Jews as such and what part by a groundless feeling that the Jewish state is especially vicious among the nations of the world…. Both are forms of anti-Semitism.”

Anti-Zionist activists like Loewenstein evidently wake up in the morning, glance at the news coming out of the Middle East, and react in righteous fury not at the medieval antisemitism codified in Hamas’s founding charter, or the sick spectacle of Palestinian children reciting lessons learned on the immutable evil of those “sons of monkeys and pigs”, but, perversely, at the Jewish target of this monstrous, consuming hate. 

The unsettling reality is that seventy-five years after Kristallnacht an increasing percentage of Europe’s tiny Jewish minority again feel the anxiety born of racism, exclusion and violence.  And, the fact that this beleaguered community interprets a campaign of boycotts targeting six million of their coreligionists as antisemitic should only offend those who fail to interpret the refrain “never again” as a moral imperative to safeguard the rights and safety of living Jews, not merely the memory of those who have long since perished.

 

FRA survey on discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States

Cross posted by The CST

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) today published its ground breaking survey of Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of hate crime, discrimination and antisemitism in the EU.

The survey covers the UK, France, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Italy Hungary, and Latvia: around 90% of the estimated Jewish population in the EU. It will enable European politicians to understand Jewish concerns and to better respond to them.

CST wrote a preview of the survey, with some of its pre-released findings, on the CST Blog last week. The full survey has been published today and is available here, with a summary here (pdf). The full data of the survey can be explored here. It is highly detailed, with dozens of questions answered for each country.

Due to the wealth of information revealed, any summary will inevitably be limited. Some of the key findings are summarised below, in which figures are averaged out for Europe as a whole. Next week, CST Blog will analyse the UK statistics and other details.

Key findings – Europe general and UK:

Across Europe, 66% of respondents consider antisemitism to be a “very big” or “fairly big” problem in their countries. The UK is lowest, at 48%, and France is highest, at 85%.

Across Europe, 76% say the situation has worsened in the last five years. In the UK this figure is 66%; France is again the highest, at 88%.

Antisemitism is considered the fourth most-pressing social or political issue across the countries surveyed.

Across Europe, in the 12 months before the survey, 26% of respondents experienced one or more incident of antisemitic harassment, which includes verbal abuse or other threatening behaviour in the street, hate mail and antisemitism on social media. The figure for the UK was 21%. Across Europe, 4% of survey respondents had suffered antisemitic physical attack or a threat of violence during the previous year (3% for UK). 76% of victims of antisemitic harassment did not report the most serious incident to the police or any other organisation. (71% in the UK).

Perpetrators of the most serious incidents of antisemitic harassment were described by respondents. Across Europe, 27% of perpetrators were perceived as someone with “Muslim extremist views”; 22% were perceived as “left-wing political views”; and 19% as “right-wing views”. The survey report does not give individual country analysis.

Close to half of all respondents (46%) worry about being verbally insulted or harassed in a public place. One third (33%) worry about being physically attacked because of being Jewish. The UK has the lowest levels of fear, with 28% worrying about verbal abuse and 17% worrying about physical attack. Highest is France, at 70% and 60% respectively.

Across Europe, 19% experienced discrimination due to their religion  in the past 12 months. For the UK this figure was the second-lowest at 16%, but the UK showed the highest rate of reporting such discrimination, at 24%.

Across Europe, 27% at least occasionally avoid local places because they do not feel safe there because they are Jewish. Belgium (42%), Hungary (41%) and France (35%) are the worst places for this. 23% at least occasionally avoid Jewish events or sites for the same reason. 68% of respondents at least occasionally avoid wearing items in public that might identify them as Jewish. The figure for the UK is 59%; the highest figures were in Sweden (79%) and France (75%).

Across Europe, 11% have either moved or considered moving out of their neighbourhood in the past five years due to concerns for their safety as Jews. 29% have, at some time or other, considered emigration: this rises to 48% for Hungary, 46% for France and 40% for Belgium. In the UK, 18% have considered emigration.

Across Europe, 94% of all respondents consider somebody who says “The Holocaust is a myth or has been exaggerated” to be antisemitic. 81% consider somebody who says “Israelis behave ‘like Nazis’ towards the Palestinians” to be antisemitic. 72% consider somebody who supports boycotts of Israeli goods or products to be antisemitic. 34%  consider somebody who criticises Israel to be antisemitic. In the UK, the figures are 96%, 76%, 65% and 32% respectively.

Across Europe, 75% of respondents considered antisemitism on the internet to be a problem, and 73% thought it had increased over the past 5 years. In the UK, these figures were 63% and 64% respectively.

Across Europe, 68% of respondents said that the Arab-Israeli conflict impacts how safe they feel as a Jewish person in their country. This falls to 57% for the UK, but rises to 90% for France and 93% for Belgium.

The survey also showed significant differences between countries. For example, in the UK, 9% of respondents said they had often heard the statement “Jews are responsible for the current economic crisis”, while this figure rose to 59% for Hungary.

CST public statement

In response to media enquiries, CST’s public statement regarding the survey is:

The details change from place to place, but this official survey shows that many European Jews are increasingly affected by antisemitism and related trends. In some countries, including Britain, politicians and police are trying to deal with the problem, but these efforts are sorely needed everywhere. Jews also require basic anti-racist solidarity in all of this: solidarity that has been partial, or deliberately denied, far too often since the year 2000.

——————

Survey methods

FRA designed this survey to collect, for the first time, comparable data on antisemitic violence, harassment and hate speech to help tackle antisemitism today. The findings in the survey report compile the results from eight survey countries, which account for some 90% of the estimated Jewish population in the European Union. The results are based on the responses from 5,847 self-identified Jewish respondents (aged 16 or over) living in one of eight EU Member States – Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Due to the sample size, the country results for Romania, one of the countries where the survey was carried out, are not included in the analysis of the survey results. However, the results from Romania are summarised in the report’s annex.

FRA designed the survey. The survey was carried out online from September to October 2012 – under contract to FRA following an open call for tender – by Ipsos MORI in partnership with the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) in the UK. It was available in the languages of the survey countries, as well as Hebew and Russian. CST has long-standing relationships with both FRA and JPR and senior CST staff played an advisory role in the project.

The survey asked respondents for their opinions and perceptions on antisemitic trends and antisemitism as a problem in everyday. The respondents were also asked to describe their personal experiences of antisemitic incidents, witnessing antisemitic incidents and worrying about being a victim of an antisemitic attack (affecting their personal safety, safety of children, or other family members and friends). The survey also provides data on whether the occurrence of antisemitic acts against the Jewish community, such as vandalism of Jewish sites or antisemitic messages in the broadcast media or in the internet, is considered to be a problem in their countries by the Jewish respondents. In addition, the survey collected socio-demographic data, such as respondents’ gender and age, educational background, employment status, and income.

More data and analysis from the survey will be published on the CST Blog next week.

Preview of official survey on European antisemitism

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at The CST

Next week, on the eve of the 75th anniversary of Krystallnacht, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) of the European Union will publish the results of its keenly awaited survey, “Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of hate crime, discrimination and antisemitism”. It is the largest survey of its type, covering countries in which 90% of European Jews live – Britain, France, Hungary, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Latvia.

The survey does not ask what level of antisemitism ought to somehow be expected, or tolerated. Its questions include asking  Jews what they perceive to be antisemitic, what they experience, and how it impacts upon their sense of belonging and future. It does not seek to tell Jews what is or is not antisemitic. It does not define a particular level of antisemitism as “good” or “bad” or “normal”. Instead, all of that is quite correctly decided by the respondents. 

So, this is an exceptional opportunity for Jewish communities, European politicians, and researchers, to understand both Jewish experiences of antisemitism and Jewish perceptions of antisemitism. The hope and intention is that this gives an urgently needed kick-start for improved protection of European Jews. 

The FRA collects data on human rights and racism for EU policy makers. CST has worked very closely with both it and European Jewish partners for many years. This survey arose from our shared concern that Europe’s politicians and lawmakers needed to understand, and act upon, a situation that has worsened considerably since the year 2000.

Crucially, our concern was shared by the European Commission, which actually ordered the survey be undertaken. They needed it, because most countries (Britain being an exception) held insufficient data on antisemitism. Furthermore, individual countries could be better held to account for their efforts.

Opposing antisemitism in post-Holocaust Europe should be the most basic of human rights issues. Disgracefully, it is not. Jewish concerns and motives are misrepresented, treated with suspicion, or simply lied about, by all too many supposed anti-racists: including sections of the media, trade unions and churches, where urges to attack Israel and so-called Zionists overwhelm other considerations. That some Jews embrace this corrupt enterprise merely deepens their comrades’ contempt for mainstream Jewish (therefore so-called Zionist) concerns. 

Regardless of the FRA survey, the reality and impact of European antisemitism has been plainly visible in France, with Jews having been murdered in cold blood, and thousands of French Jews having moved overseas. Hungary is also very worrying, but the problem there is far right nationalists who blame Jews for socioeconomic difficulties: what you might call “the old antisemitism”.

Then, there is Malmo in Sweden, widely regarded as the worst example of a local community living in fear, due to high levels of antisemitism from some Muslim residents and a lack of concern, or worse, from local authorities. For the pessimists, Malmo is what the future holds for European Jewry. (See here, for a short impactful article on wearing a kippah in Malmo.) 

In Britain, we are relatively fortunate. CST and the Police have had excellent relations since the 1990s; and over the last decade our politicians have taken antisemitism increasingly seriously, with the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism helping to lead the way.

The survey itself was rigorously conducted by London’s highly respected Institute for Jewish Policy Research and Ipsos MORI. It posed dozens of questions and each was to be answered by every country. The very few statistics that have already been revealed (mainly by the EU delegation to the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism) contain much food for thought. They include:

  • 7% of the 5,847 respondents experienced some form of antisemitic physical attack or threats in the last five years.
  • 26% of respondents experienced antisemitic harassment at least once in the year before the survey. This rose to 34% over the past five years.
  • 76% of victims of antisemitic harassment, 64% of victims of physical attack or threats, and 52% of victims of vandalism did not report the incident to the police, nor to any other organisation. 
  • 22% of respondents sometimes avoid “Jewish events or sites” because of safety concerns.

These figures are overall European totals. The specific UK totals are likely to be generally less alarming, but it remains to be seen if they will be substantially different.

The most striking figures released thus far concern Belgium, France and Hungary, where between 40% and 50% of respondents said that they had considered emigrating because they do not feel safe. This statistic goes to the heart of how the present and past experience of antisemitism impacts upon Jewish feelings of safety and future, and upon Europe itself. 

The few figures released thus far more than justify why the survey was commissioned. The perpetrators and triggers of antisemitism may differ across the continent, but there is an urgent need for local politicians to develop effective counter-strategies against it.

  •  The Jewish Chronicle carries a slightly shorter version of the above article. 

In praise of the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism

In 2005, following several years which saw a disturbing rise in antisemitic violence across Europe, the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) reached a Working Definition of Antisemitism.  

Steve Bell 16.12.2012

Cartoon by Steve Bell in 2012 which was denounced by the Guardian Readers’ Editor as ‘echoing antisemitic imagery’ relating to ‘Jewish power’

Later in the year, the Working Definition of Antisemitism was prominently referenced at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Cordoba Conference.  And, since then, many other bodies have advocated its usage. The one-page Working Definition of Antisemitism (below) evolved as a result of the efforts of a large number of European institutions and human rights experts. 

The stated goal of the Working Definition of Antisemitism was to provide a guide (to EU members states) for identifying incidents, collecting data and supporting the implementation and enforcement of legislation dealing with antisemitism.

Here it is:

Recently, a commentator who has expressed sympathy for antisemites, and routinely calls for the end of the Jewish state, used his platform at a site notable for endorsing terrorism and equating Zionism to Nazism, to falsely characterize the Working Definition of Antisemitism as “an abandoned draft text.”

Whilst it is narrowly true that the website of Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the successor to the EUMC, doesn’t include the text of the Working Definition of Antisemitism – due to the fact that its mandate differs from EUMC – here are the facts:

  • The State Department report on Global Antisemitism in 2008 included the following:  The EUMC’s working definition provides a useful framework for identifying and understanding the problem and is adopted for the purposes of this report
  • The Working Definition of Antisemitism was cited by the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism in testimony given to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (in Helsinki) in 2011, and is currently endorsed on the State Department’s ‘Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism’ page.
  • In 2010, the UK All-Party Inquiry into antisemitism recommended that the Working Definition of Antisemitism should be adopted and promoted by the Government and law enforcement agencies.
  • An official document published by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recommends the Working Definition of Antisemitism as a valuable hate crime data collection tool for law enforcement agencies, and for educators.

Though most manifestations of antisemitism included in the Working Definition of Antisemitism shouldn’t even need to be pointed out (such as ‘calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion’), many who oppose it do so for the following reasons:

1) It defines as antisemitic the equating of Zionism with Nazism.

2) It defines as antisemitic calls for the end of the Jewish state.

It is of course no coincidence that this recent attack on the Working Definition of Antisemitism was leveled by a commentator who continually promotes the second charge at a site which has endorsed the first.

Yet, despite the protests from a few marginal, extremist voices, the Working Definition continues to represent a widely respected, useful tool for understanding modern manifestations of antisemitism, and this blog will continue to use it in our continuing fight against such racism at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’. 

A letter to CiF Watch from the Guardian, via King Ahasuerus?

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Dear Mr Levick,

I am writing to inform you that we have been reviewing our codes of practice at ‘Comment is Free’ and have decided that closing your account and deleting your previous comments was unjustified.  We have therefore decided to re-open your account. Unfortunately your previous comments have already been removed from our systems and cannot be returned, but we would be happy to have you return to the below the line commentary.

Furthermore:

In the course of our review we came to several conclusions with regards to the character of the above the line writers at ‘Comment is Free’ and have reached a number of conclusions:

  1. We shall no longer be publishing commentary from contributors associated with terrorist groups.
  2. We will be seeking a greater breadth of above the line copy, including more commentary from Zionists.
  3. Our moderators have been instructed to adhere to the working definition of anti-Semitism as laid out by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and to delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.  We have asked the Community Security Trust for help in this regard.

In short Mr Levick, thanks to organisations such as CiF Watch we have decided to fundamentally alter the way we approach contributions to ‘Comment is Free’ and the way that we deal with below the line comments.

Yours Sincerely

Natalie Hanman

Editor, ‘Comment is Free’ 

 

(This Purim Spiel was written by Marc Goldberg)