Anti-Semitism in Europe has increased to a level where many committed Jews ask themselves if they should emigrate. The same is true for a significant number of more assimilated Jews. Even more widespread across the Jewish community is the question of whether their children should remain in their native country.
In an environment where the Jewish community has great doubts regarding its future, it helps to get a greater perspective by looking back to the European anti-Semitism that reached unprecedented post-war levels after the Second Intifada in 2000.
Of all the European countries, France is a good one to use as an example, for a number of reasons. Since 2000, the level and nature of anti-Semitic incidents occurring in France which included several murders of Jews by Muslims have been more severe than in other European countries. France not only has the largest Jewish community in Europe, with half a million Jews, but also has the largest Muslim community, with an estimated five million. In addition, the first high-level analysts who came forward to assess the new anti-Semitism which differs, to a large extent, from the classic religious and ethnic anti-Semitism, did so in France.
The work of these analysts is not well-known internationally because most of it was published in French. It remains of great importance, however, because so much of what they originally observed has expanded to even greater proportions. This is due, to a large extent, to the failure of governmental authorities. The sociologist Shmuel Trigano, one of Europes leading Jewish thinkers, was one of the first to make a substantial contribution in exposing and assessing the situation. At the end of 2001, Trigano began publishing a series of articles titled, Observatoire du monde juif. (Observatory of the Jewish world), a series which lasted more than two and a half years.
Trigano succeeded in organizing the collaboration of a substantial number of authors who analyzed many aspects of the hate-fueled outbursts. The first issue, dated November 2001, contained titles indicative of the climate for the French Jewish community: The Jews of France Targeted by the Intifada?, An Atmosphere of Insecurity, The Middle East Conflict is Exported to Western Democracies, The Anti-Jewish Aggressions, The Perverse Logic of French Politics, Religious Anti-Semitism, Political Anti-Semitism, and The Extreme Left and its Ideological Manipulations. These could very well be titles of current essays. since the situation has only worsened.
In another issue published in 2002, Alexandre del Valle explained the convergence of various totalitarianisms in an article titled, The New Red, Brown, and Green Faces of Anti-Semitism, referring to the coming together of communism, fascism and Islamism in regard to anti-Semitism. In the next issue, Michle Tribalat described how the Islamist social network was full of messages comparing Israel with Nazis.
Another important scholar who greatly contributed to diagnosing the anti-Semitic reality in France is Pierre-Andr Taguieff. This non-Jewish philosopher published his book, The New Judeophobia in 2002, which made a major contribution to the understanding of anti-Israelism. Taguieff discussed this latest mutation of anti-Semitism and how it hit French Jewry. He noted that although classic anti-Semitism is considered to be politically incorrect, anti-Israelism did not encounter such resistance and was thus able to expand rapidly.
…[Taguieff] identified the new myth of the intrinsically good Palestinian, or, in other words, that the Palestinians can do no wrong. Taguieff exposed the process by which the crimes of the allegedly deprived, a group to whom the Palestinians claim to belong, are condoned. He described the role of the media in justifying violence and portraying criminals as victims. He pointed out that the next step in the distortion process was to declare that the criminals, now disguised as victims, were not to be held responsible for their acts because they are molded by their socio-economic conditions.
Taguieff also exposed other key issues such as the belief that Muslims and Arabs behave as they do because they are supposedly humiliated or persecuted. He identified the new myth of the intrinsically good Palestinian, or, in other words, that the Palestinians can do no wrong. Taguieff stated that blind pacifism places both the aggressor and his victim at the same level of morality and turns legitimate self-defense into a criminal transgression. These days we can see many examples of this phenomena, including the newly published report of the United Nations Human Rights Commission report on the 2014 Gaza war.
Taguieff also exposed the widespread fallacy that Islamophobia was a larger problem than anti-Semitism. The risk for Jews of being attacked in France was and remains many times greater than the risk of Muslims being attacked.
France: The Early Diagnosis of the New Anti-Semitism – Op …
anti-Semitism,hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious or racial group. The term anti-Semitism was coined in 1879 by the German agitator Wilhelm Marr to designate the anti-Jewish campaigns under way in central Europe at that time. Although the term now has wide currency, it is a misnomer, since it implies a discrimination against all Semites. Arabs and other peoples are also Semites, and yet they are not the targets of anti-Semitism as it is usually understood. The term is especially inappropriate as a label for the anti-Jewish prejudices, statements, or actions of Arabs or other Semites. Nazi anti-Semitism, which culminated in the Holocaust, had a racist dimension in that it targeted Jews because of their supposed biological characteristicseven those who had themselves converted to other religions or whose parents were converts. This variety of anti-Jewish racism dates only to the emergence of so-called scientific racism in the 19th century and is different in nature from earlier anti-Jewish prejudices.
Anti-Semitism has existed to some degree wherever Jews have settled outside Palestine. In the ancient Greco-Roman world, religious differences were the primary basis for anti-Semitism. In the Hellenistic Age, for instance, Jews social segregation and their refusal to acknowledge the gods worshiped by other peoples aroused resentment among some pagans, particularly in the 1st century bce1st century ce. Unlike polytheistic religions, which acknowledge multiple gods, Judaism is monotheisticit recognizes only one god. However, pagans saw Jews principled refusal to worship emperors as gods as a sign of disloyalty.
Although Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples were practicing Jews and Christianity is rooted in the Jewish teaching of monotheism, Judaism and Christianity became rivals soon after Jesus was crucified by Pontius Pilate, who executed him according to contemporary Roman practice. Religious rivalry initially was theological. It soon also became political.
Historians agree that the break between Judaism and Christianity followed the Roman destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in the year 70 ce and the subsequent exile of Jews. In the aftermath of this devastating defeat, which was interpreted by Jew and Christian alike as a sign of divine punishment, the Gospels diminished Roman responsibility and expressed Jewish culpability in the death of Jesus both explicitly (Matthew 27:25) and implicitly. Jews were depicted as killers of the Son of God.
Christianity was intent on replacing Judaism by making its own particular message universal. The New Testament was seen as fulfilling the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible); Christians were the new Israel, both in flesh and in spirit. The God of justice had been replaced by the God of love. Thus, some early Church Fathers taught that God had finished with the Jews, whose only purpose in history was to prepare for the arrival of his Son. According to this view, the Jews should have left the scene. Their continued survival seemed to be an act of stubborn defiance. Exile was taken as a sign of divine disfavour incurred by the Jews denial that Jesus was the Messiah and by their role in his crucifixion.
As Christianity spread in the first centuries ce, most Jews continued to reject that religion. As a consequence, by the 4th century, Christians tended to regard Jews as an alien people who, because of their repudiation of Christ and his church, were condemned to perpetual migration (a belief best illustrated in the legend of the Wandering Jew). When the Christian church became dominant in the Roman Empire, its leaders inspired many laws by Roman emperors designed to segregate Jews and curtail their freedoms when they appeared to threaten Christian religious domination. As a consequence, Jews were increasingly forced to the margins of European society.
Enmity toward the Jews was expressed most acutely in the churchs teaching of contempt. From St. Augustine in the 4th century to Martin Luther in the 16th, some of the most eloquent and persuasive Christian theologians excoriated the Jews as rebels against God and murderers of the Lord. They were described as companions of the Devil and a race of vipers. Church liturgy, particularly the scriptural readings for the Good Friday commemoration of the Crucifixion, contributed to this enmity. Such views were finally renounced by the Roman Catholic Church decades after the Holocaust with the Vatican II declaration of Nostra aetate (Latin: In Our Era) in 1965, which transformed Roman Catholic teaching regarding Jews and Judaism.
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anti-Semitism | Britannica.com
Anti-Semitism is not only the oldest hatred, it is also the most enduring, former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler said on a panel on the subject at Sundays Jerusalem Post Conference in Manhattan.
The panel was called The Alarming Rise of Global Anti-Semitism: A Rapidly Gathering Storm, using a term coined by World War II British prime minister Winston Churchill for the rise of Nazi Germany. Moderated by World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer, it included Cotler, US Special Envoy of the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ira Forman, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum director Sara Bloomfield, and New York University School of Law senior fellow Thane Rosenbaum.
Cotler said he recently testified before the UN and the Canadian parliament, where he remains an MP, about four metrics for the new anti-Semitism, which he said are an assault on the right of Israel to remain part of the family of nations or exist at all. He said there is genocidal anti-Semitism, such as terrorist attacks; demonological anti-Semitism, whose mantra is that Israel is the root of all evil; political anti-Semitism, which aims to deny only the Jews the right to self determination; and finally masking anti-Semitism under universal values.
In the final category, Cotler placed the attacks on Israel at the United Nations, where he said the UN condemns Israel 20 times a year and all other countries combined only four.
Anti-Semitism is being laundered under the struggle against racism, Cotler said.
The worst thing anyone can say about anyone is they are racist. Apartheid is defined as a crime against humanity. To say Israel is an apartheid state is to say it has no right to be, and the international community has an obligation to ensure it has no right to be.
Forman spoke about the dangers of anti-Semitism in Paris, Copenhagen, Buenos Aires, and Turkey. He noted that in Turkey there has been a television show that accuses Jews of a worldwide plot against the country, including non-Jewish Charles Darwin as a Jew in the plot. Forman said it would be funny were it not sad.
If current negative trends continue, certain Jewish communities in Europe that were around 500 years or even 2,500 years will be gone, he said. This is a tragedy.
Forman lamented that, unlike the struggle for Prisoners of Zion when there was one central address at the Kremlin, it is now necessary to confront dozens of countries.
Rosenbaum said Europe is starting to realize it has an Islamic problem, but lamented that rather than confront Islamic anti-Semitism it is leading from behind.
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At panel on anti-Semitism, new metrics for Jew hatred …
Something unusual has begun in the Washington-New York corridor. Journalists and policy analysts have begun a critical public discussion about President Obamas understanding (or misunderstanding) of the significance and nature of the anti-Semitism of the Iranian regime. They are asking how his view on that subject affects prospects for a nuclear deal to stop the ayatollahs from getting the bomb. Insights about the history and nature of anti-Semitism that we historians have elaborated over the years are finding their way into the pages of several of our major newspapers and at least one important policy-related international relations journal.
The President himself, apparently stung by criticism that his approach to Iran is facilitating rather than preventing its path to the bomb and that he bears primary responsibility for the tensions in American-Israeli relations, initiated this discussion when he recently gave an extensive interview to The Atlantic magazine journalist Jeffrey Goldberg. The interview was published on May 21. Then, on May 22, the President spoke at Adas Israel, a Conservative Washington, D.C. synagogue whose congregants include many of the citys politics and policy leaders. There, the President spoke of unbreakable bonds and a friendship that cannot be broken between the United States and Israel. He said he was interested in a deal that blocks every single one of Irans pathways to a nuclear weapon every single path. The President eloquently recalled the role American Jews played in the Civil Rights Movement and spoke of the values we share. A week later, foreign policy analyst Michael Doran, whose excellent commentary about Iran I have discussed previously in this blog, wrote a Letter to My Liberal Jewish Friends in which he argued that the existence of shared values, though important, was not the key issue. It was, instead, the necessary criticism of Obamas policies towards Irans nuclear program.
In the interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, the President finally laid out in public for the first time his view of the role of anti-Semitism in the government in Tehran. As a historian who has written a great deal about anti-Semitism, I welcome this terribly belated public discussion of anti-Semitism in the American foreign policy world. A year ago almost to the day, on June 2, 2014, I published Taking Irans Anti-Semitism Seriously in the American Interest magazine. Adam Garfinkle, that journals fine editor, combines an insiders grasp of US foreign relations with an understanding of the nature of anti-Semitism, which he discussed in an essay in 2012. In my essay, I wrote:
The scholarship on the history of anti-Semitism hasnt yet had a significant impact on the policy discussions in Washington about Iran. Perhaps too many of our policymakers, politicians, and analysts still labor under the mistaken idea that radical anti-Semitism is merely another form of prejudice or, worse, an understandable (and hence excusable?) response to the conflict between Israel, the Arab states, and the Palestinians. In fact it is something far more dangerous, and far less compatible with a system of nuclear deterrence, which assumes that all parties place a premium on their own survival. Irans radical anti-Semitism is not in the slightest bit rational; it is a paranoid conspiracy theory that proposes to make sense (or rather nonsense) of the world by claiming that the powerful and evil Jew is the driving force in global politics. Leaders who attribute enormous evil and power to the 13 million Jews in the world and to a tiny Middle Eastern state with about eight million citizens have demonstrated that they dont have a suitable disposition for playing nuclear chess.
On April 6 I returned to these themes in this blog: The Iran Deal and Anti-Semitism. Here I expressed concern about Obamas reference to the practical streak in the Iranian government. So I was very pleased to see that Goldberg had decided to raise precisely this issue in his now much-discussedwithin some circlesinterview with the President. Goldberg thought it was difficult to negotiate with people who are captive to a conspiratorial anti-Semitic worldview not because they hold offensive views, but in his words because they hold ridiculous views. Obama responded as follows:
Well the fact that you a re anti-Semitic, or racist, doesnt preclude you from being interested in survival. It doesnt preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesnt preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesnt mean that this overrides all of his other considerations.
In reply to Goldbergs oblique comment that anti-Semitic European leaders had made irrational decisions, Obama stated:
They may make irrational decisions with respect to discrimination, with respect to trying to use anti-Semitic rhetoric as an organizing tool. At the margins, where the costs are low, they may pursue policies based on hatred as opposed to self-interest. But the costs here are not low, and what weve been very clear [about] to the Iranian regime over the past six years is that we will continue to ratchet up the costs, not simply for their anti-Semitism, but also for whatever expansionist ambitions they may have. Thats what the sanctions represent. Thats what the military option Ive made clear I preserve represents. And so I think it is not at all contradictory to say that there are deep strains of anti-Semitism in the core regime, but that they also are interested in maintaining power, having some semblance of legitimacy inside their own country, which requires that they get themselves out of what is a deep economic rut that weve put them in, and on that basis they are then willing and prepared potentially to strike an agreement on their nuclear program.
Because Goldberg spoke vaguely about European leaders, the President either did not have to or did not choose that moment to speak about his understanding of the role of anti-Semitism in the Nazi regime and during the Holocaust. That is unfortunate, because it seemsto this historian at leastthat his grasp of the subject leaves something to be desired. The consensus among the numerous scholars who have worked on the subject is that for the Nazis, anti-Semitism was not primarily a form of discrimination or an organizing tool. It was an ideology that justified mass murder and did so not for the ulterior purpose of organizing others but because they believed that exterminating the Jews in the world would save Germany from destruction and eliminate the primary source of evil in the world. The extermination was carried out for the sake of these beliefs. Nor was this ideology at the margins of Nazi policy; it was at its center. The Presidents comments to Goldberg raise questions about whether the President fully or accurately understands the link between ideology and policy during the Holocaust. As I wrote in The Jewish Enemy, the Nazi leadership interpreted the entire Second World War through the prism of anti-Semitic paranoia in such a way as to interpret the war as one, incredibly, launched by world Jewry to exterminate the German people. Anti-Semitism then was a key interpretive framework that the Nazis employed to misunderstand the political realities of the time. If the President understands this dimension of anti-Semitism it was not evident in his interview with Goldberg.
Of course, Nazi Germany is gone and Hitler is dead. So a policy question facing any President of the United States now and in years to come remains the following: What is the place and the nature of anti-Semitism in the Iranian regime, and what impact does this ideology have on its foreign and military policy toward the United States and its allies, including Israel? For the first time in his six years in office, the President publicly acknowledged what scholarly observers of Iran, such as Tel Aviv Universitys Meir Litvak, among others, have pointed out for the past two decades, namely that indeed there are deep strains of anti-Semitism in the core regime. Aside from the obvious rejections of Mahmoud Ahmadinejads Holocaust-denial circus, this may have been the first time that any official of the United States government during the Obama years has said anything remotely approaching the Presidents remark about deep strainsin the core regime. On the contrary, during this era of euphemism, even pointing to the regimes radical anti-Semitism could raise suspicions of Islamophobia. So President Obamas long-overdue acknowledgment of what has been obvious to informed observers for decades is most welcome. Yet, in the same sentence in which he acknowledged this inconvenient truth, he suggested that the ideological imperative would give way to practical and rational interests in maintaining power. In so doing, he diminishes the impact of the ayatollahs radical anti-Semitism on the whole spectrum of Irans foreign and military policy.
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Obama and his American critics on Irans anti-Semitism …
“A Jew, I cannot believe that you cannot be a Jew in Sweden!” says Siavosh Derakhti.
The 23-year-old Muslim is the child of Iranian parents, refugees of the Iran-Iraq war. He has become a champion in the fight against anti-Semitism in Malm, a town a little smaller than Halifax perched on the southern tip of Sweden.
Muslim immigrants, most with roots in the Middle East, make up nearly a third of Malm’s population.
Cultural tension in the town has been building for years, much of it directed against the new immigrants, but anti-Semitism has also been rising. The Simon Weisenthal Center in Los Angeles issued a travel advisory to Jews in 2010 don’t go to Malm. It reissued the warning last year.
Derakhti gets hate mail from the far-right and death threats from fellow Muslims.
“When we have let the world into our town, we have the political controversy you have in the Middle East,” says Anders Ekelm, vicar of the Church of Sweden in Malm. “Among those people you will find anti-Semitism. We have to be honest about it.”
Sweden has a generous immigration policy last year, this country of nine million took in 85,000 refugees.According to an OECD study citing 2013 figures, Sweden took in more than twice as many asylum seekers per capita as any other member country, and roughly20 times as many per capitaas Canada.
Masked protesters engage in a confrontation with police in Malm, Sweden. In recent years, protests for and against Muslim immigrants have been frequent and sometimes violent. (Drago Prvulovic/Associated Press)
In Malm the immigrants are concentrated in one pocket of the city, Rosengaard. Unemployment in the area runs at 70 per cent, stones are thrown regularly at mail carriers and police, and 150 cars were torched during summer riots in 2013. Protests for and against Muslim immigrants are frequent and tough.
Anti-Semitism in Malm reveals flaws in Swedish …
On Sunday, Robert S. Wistrich the director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem emailed the following column to Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde, asking that it be published in the coming week. Wistrich died suddenly on Tuesday. We dedicate his last column to perpetuating his memory. May his words live on.
There are few topics of more pressing concern today to Jewish communities around the world than the current resurgence of anti-Semitism. Thus, there could have been no more appropriate time for the 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism to meet than last week in Jerusalem. It was a large and impressive gathering of participants from all over the world, initiated by the Foreign Ministry, together with its Diaspora Affairs Department.
In my own remarks to the conference I emphasized the need to free ourselves from certain outdated myths. My first point was that even today, Jews in Israel and the Diaspora are fixated on the dangers of far-right traditional anti-Semitism whether racist, religious or nationalist. While neo-fascism has not altogether disappeared, it is in most cases a secondary threat.
Second, there is an illusory belief that more Holocaust education and memorialization can serve as an effective antidote to contemporary anti-Semitism. This notion, shared by many governments and well-meaning liberal gentiles, is quite unfounded. On the contrary, today Holocaust inversion (the perverse transformation of Jews into Nazis and Muslims into victimized Jews) all-too-often becomes a weapon with which to pillory Israel and denigrate the Jewish people. Hence the approach to this entire subject requires considerable rethinking, updating and fine-tuning.
Third, we must recognize much more clearly than before that since 1975 (with the passing of the scandalous UN resolution condemning Zionism as racism) hatred of Israel has increasingly mutated into the chief vector for the new anti-Semitism.
By libeling the Jewish state as racist, Nazi, apartheid and founded from its inception on ethnic cleansing, its enemies have turned Zionism into a synonym for criminality and a term of pure opprobrium.
Hence, every Jew (or non- Jew) who supports the totally illegitimate or immoral Zionist entity is thereby complicit in a cosmic evil.
Fourth, todays anti-Semitism is a product of a new civic religion that could be termed Palestinianism.
The official Palestinian narrative seeks to supplant Israel with a judenrein Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. In the case of Hamas, this intent is absolutely explicit. With Fatah, it is partly veiled for tactical reasons.
But when it comes to the Palestinian ideology and the millions around the world who support it, virtually all actions of self-defense by Israel are instantly classified as genocide, demonized and treated as part of a sinister Jewish-imperialist conspiracy. Not surprisingly, then, pro-Palestine demonstrations, beginning in the summer of 2014, were often accompanied by ugly chants of Death to the Jews and anti-Semitic incidents.
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Anti-Semitism and Jewish destiny – Opinion – Jerusalem Post
President Barack Obama said Friday he “forcefully” objects to suggestions that policy differences between his administration and the Israeli government signal his lack of support for the longtime U.S. ally.
Speaking at one of Washington’s most prominent synagogues, Obama said the U.S. and Israel should not be expected to paper over differences on Israel’s settlement building or the frozen peace process with the Palestinians.
“That’s not a true measure of friendship,” Obama told about 1,200 people, including members of Congress, gathered at Congregation Adas Israel. “The people of Israel must always know America has its back.”
The president’s remarks come during a period of deep tension in an already prickly relationship with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, particularly over Obama’s bid to strike a nuclear deal with Iran. Netanyahu views Iran’s disputed nuclear program as an existential threat to Israel and has lobbied vigorously against such a deal, including by addressing a joint meeting of Congress earlier this year.
Obama defended the framework deal that negotiators are seeking to finalize by the end of June, saying it would make Israel and the entire region safer. Still, he said given the high stakes, he welcomes scrutiny of the negotiations.
“This deal will have my name on it,” he said.
Obama on Friday signed bipartisan legislation that gives Congress the right to review any final nuclear deal with Iran before the president can waive congressional sanctions. Obama had initially resisted any legislation that could undo the nuclear deal.
The president and Netanyahu also clashed during the recent Israeli elections over the prime minister’s comments on the peace process. Netanyahu said in the lead-up to the election that he no longer backed a two-state solution, though he reversed himself after his party’s victory.
Obama also addressed what he called a “deeply disturbing rise” in anti-Semitism around the world. He said the world knows from history that this is “not some passing fad” and should not be ignored.
Obama’s appearance coincided with Solidarity Shabbat, devoted to showing unity by political leaders in Europe and North America against anti-Semitism.
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Obama Tells People of Israel: America Has Your Back – ABC News
Robert S. Wistrich, one of the worlds foremost scholars of anti-Semitism, died late Tuesday evening after suffering a heart attack in Rome, where he was due to address the Italian Senate about rising anti-Semitism in Europe.
Wistrich, 70, was the Neuburger Professor of European and Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the head of the Universitys Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism.
Over the course of his career, Wistrich edited and published dozens of books about the fate of Jews and their treatment by other nations.
Among his notable works was the 1989 book The Jews of Vienna in the age of Franz Joseph, which won the Austrian State Prize in History. Two years later he published Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred, which later served as the basis for a three-hour British-American television documentary on anti-Semitism.
His book A Lethal Obsession: Antisemitism From Antiquity to the Global Jihad, published in 2010, was awarded the Best Book of the Year Prize by the New-York based Journal for the Study of Antisemitism.
In 2014, Wistrich authored an exhibition titled The 3,500 year relationship of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel, which was scheduled for display at UNESCO headquarters in Paris but was canceled amid pressure from Arab nations.
At the time, Wistrich said that the cancellation completely destroyed any claim that UNESCO could possibly have to be representing the universal values of toleration, mutual understanding, respect for the other and narratives that are different, engaging with civil society organizations and the importance of education. Because theres one standard for Jews, and theres another standard for non-Jews, especially if theyre Arabs, but not only.
The exhibit eventually reopened six months later after the phrase Land of Israel in the title was replaced with Holy Land.
Robert Wistrich (photo credit: courtesy)
In July 2014 Wistrich was invited to address an emergency Knesset meeting on rising violent anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activities in Europe, during which he warned that we have entered a new, very difficult era in all of Europe.
Anti-Semitism scholar Robert S. Wistrich dies at 70 | The …
The definition of anti-Semitism was at the center of a battle of words Monday involving campus protests about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This comes as some Jewish students say that protests against Israels occupation of the West Bank have had anti-Semitic overtones that they contend makes some American universities, including UC campuses, a hostile environment. Meanwhile, activists against Israeli policies, including some Jewish faculty and students, say such claims of anti-Semitism are an attempt to squelch any criticism of Israel.
The debate focused specifically on the U.S. State Departments definition of anti-Semitism. That definition defines more general ethnic and religious hatred against Jews but also declares that it is anti-Semitic to demonize Israel, deny Israels right to exist, liken Israeli policy to that of the Nazis and blame Israel for all inter-religious tensions.
On Monday, 57 rabbis from California and 104 University of California faculty members called on UC administrators to adopt that State Department definition when dealing with protests and potential discipline for anti-Semitic statements. They said they did not aim to silence free speech, but they contend that too often protests against Israel have turned into inciting anti-Jewish attitudes.
In a letter to UC President Janet Napolitano and the UC regents, the rabbis urged that campus leaders be trained in using the State Department definition to identify anti-Semitic behavior and to address it with the same promptness and vigor as they do other forms of racial, ethnic and gender bigotry and discrimination.
In contrast, an open letter signed by more than 250 members of the Jewish Voice for Peace Academic Advisory Council asked the U.S. State Department to revise its definition of anti-Semitism to prevent it from being used to silence critics of Israel. The interfaith group that supports calls for peace talks between Palestinians and Israel, an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and security for both sides said that it is important to distinguish criticism of Israel from real anti-Semitism. The letter also said the State Department should drop the definitions references to demonizing Israel and applying double standards to its policies.
Meanwhile, the Palestine Solidarity Legal Support organization and the Center for Constitutional Rights released a report that said that more student activists are being wrongly described as anti-Semitic for their support of Palestinian rights. The groups said that they have received many requests from students and faculty in California and around the country who contend they have been identified as terrorists or terrorism supporters for speaking out against Israels treatment of Palestinians.
Napolitano and other UC leaders in March issued a statement condemning anti-Semitic incidents on UC campuses, as have student governments at UCLA and UC Berkeley recently. UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said it was too early to say whether the regents would adopt the State Department definition but that several people from the public are expected to speak on the matter at the regents meeting in San Francisco this week.
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Definition of anti-Semitism provokes campus debates – LA Times
The biennial Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism issued statements recommending steps for governments and websites to reduce cyber hate, and for European governments to reduce anti-Semitism.
Given the pervasive, expansive and transnational nature of the internet and the viral nature of hate materials, counter-speech alone is not a sufficient response to cyber hate. The right to free expression does not require or obligate the internet industry to disseminate hate materials. They too are moral actors, free to pursue internet commerce in line with ethics, social responsibility, and a mutually agreed code of conduct, read a statement issued Thursday night in Jerusalem by the Forum, which is run by Israels Foreign Ministry.
Among the recommendations to Internet providers: to adopt a clear industry standard for defining hate speech and anti-Semitism; adopt global terms of service prohibiting the posting of such materials; provide an effective complaint process and maintain a timely and professional response capacity; and ban Holocaust denial sites from the Web as a form of egregious hate speech.
Recommendations to governments include: establishing a national legal unit responsible for combating cyber hate; making stronger use of existing laws to prosecute cyber hate and online anti-Semitism, and enhancing the legal basis for prosecution where such laws are absent; and adopting stronger laws and penalties for the prohibition of Internet materials promoting terrorism and supporting recruitment to terrorist groups.
The forum also addressed the upsurge of anti-Semitism in Europe.
European institutions and governments need to take strong proactive steps to address the current outbreak of anti-Semitism in order to assure the continued vibrancy of Jewish communal life in Europe, read a statement issued Thursday.
Among the recommendations for combating anti-Semitism: adopt a formal definition of anti-Semitism applicable throughout the European Union and its member states under law including reference to attacks on the legitimacy of the State of Israel and its right to exist, and Holocaust denial as forms of anti-Semitism; apply agreed standardized mechanisms for monitoring and recording incidents of anti-Semitism in all EU countries; take urgent and sustained steps to assure the physical security of Jewish communities, their members and institutions; and direct education ministries to increase teacher training and adopt pedagogic curricula against anti-Semitism, and towards religious tolerance and Holocaust remembrance.
The three-day conference hosted a panel of prominent Muslim leaders and imams from Europe who came to speak out about anti-Semitism in Europe. The opening of the conference featured addresses by the mayor of Paris and the German justice minister.
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Jerusalem forum recommends new laws on cyberhate, anti …