|Study: Anti-Semitism in Europe hit new high in 2009
By Cnaan Liphshiz
In: Haaretz, 11/04/2010
The worldwide increase in anti-Semitic attacks following Israel's
2009 incursion into Gaza hit the U.K. and France the hardest compared
to all other European countries, according to Tel Aviv University's
watchdog on anti-Semitism.
In 2009, the U.K. saw 374 manifestations of violence against Jews
compared to 112 in 2008, according to the Stephen Roth Institute for
the study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism. France was a distant
second, with 195 violent attacks compared to 50.
The total number of anti-Semitic incidents - as they are defined by the
institute - was a record number of 1,129 in 2009, compared to 559 in
2008. The institute recorded 566 incidents of vandalism targeting
Jewish property worldwide in 2009, constituting 49 percent of all
Four percent of incidents - or 41 instances - were armed assaults
against Jews because of their religion, and 15 percent were weaponless
assaults. Arson accounted for three percent, or 34 instances. Threats
of violence against Jews and Jewish institutions accounted for 29
The fact that the U.K. and France led the chart is partly because these
countries are home both to Europe's largest Jewish communities
(approximately 250,000 and 500,000 respectively,) and its Muslim
communities, according to Roni Stauber, a researcher of the institute.
Dina Porat, who heads the institution, told reporters at a press
conference on Sunday that Anti-Semitism is directly linked to
anti-Zionism. Western European Jews in general may have more faith in
the authorities than in East Europe, leading to better monitoring and
reporting of attacks, she added.
Dr. Haim Fireberg, another of the institute's academics, noted that
Britain had a relatively high level of xenophobic attacks in general,
not only anti-Semitic ones.
Race-linked offences in England and Wales jumped from 31,000 in 2003 to
more than 38,000 five years on, according to a report released last
month by the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance, based
on British government figures.
"If we are going to be honest, there is not a lot that the Jewish
communities can do to end anti-Semitism," said Moshe Kantor, president
of the European Jewish Congress, which cooperated with the university
in compiling the report on 2009. "It is important to delineate and
monitor so governments and institutions would be prompted to act."
The institute recorded 138 violent attacks against Jews in 2009 in
Canada, and 116 in the U.S, compared to 33 in Germany, 22 in Austria
and 28 in Belgium.
The Stephen Roth institute began monitoring anti-Semitism in 1989, when
it found 78 anti-Semitic incidents worldwide. "Anti-Semitism has peaks,
mostly following Israel's actions. The number of attacks usually drops
after the peak, but we have seen a steady increase because the level of
anti-Semitism rarely drops back to what it had been prior to the peak."
Asked about the methodology of the report - which the institution
releases annually ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day ? Fireberg said: "We
gather data from official reports by the countries surveyed, and from
the Jewish communities there."
He added that the institutions requests the communities describe each
incident which they understand as anti-Semitic, "and then we decide if
it meets out strict criteria." Fireberg said that "had we published the
communities' numbers, we would have 5,000 or 6,000 incidents worldwide."
British Jewish institutions reported "hundreds of incidents" which may
or may not have been anti-Semitic attacks, which the institute did not
include in its report, Dr. Stauber said.