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The year 2014 saw the highest number of antisemitic incidents ever recorded by B'nai Brith and the League for Human Rights. At 1627 incidents, this year saw a 28% increase over 2013. This is consistent with data gathered by other human rights organizations around the world, such as the Anti-Defamation League, who reported a 21% increase over the previous year.
Click here to access the Audit
With sadness, the Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism(CISA) announces the passing of our friend and colleague, Robert Wistrich, the world's leading scholarly authority on the history of antisemitism.
Robert was Neuburger Professor of European and Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the head of the University’s Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism.
Robert's knowledge of European and Jewish history was encyclopedic and his facility with languages gave him a unique authority on the problem of antisemitism in a vast number of cultural and national contexts. Over the course of his 40-year career, he wrote and edited over 29 books on subjects related to antisemitism, the Holocaust, Zionism, and Jewish intellectual history. His 1200-page magnum opus was published in 2010 under the title, The Lethal Obsession: Antisemitism From Antiquity to the Global Jihad.
Robert knew the subject of antisemitism in ways that were personal as well. He was born one month before the end of WWII in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, where his parents had fled. The family returned to Poland after the war, and then left for France and finally England, where he grew up and attended university. He took his undergraduate degrees at Queens’ College, Cambridge, and received his PhD in 1974 from the University of London. He became a tenured professor at Hebrew University in 1982 and later taught in Israel and England.
Robert was in Rome Tuesday to address the Italian Senate on the problem of resurgent antisemitism. He died of a heart attack there yesterday.
May his memory be a blessing for us all.
Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, Tel Aviv University
Antisemitism Worldwide 2014
The year 2014 has been one of the worst years in the last decade, 2004-2014, in fact, it was the second worst year after 2009. Troubling and even alarming reports kept coming in from many countries, especially from Western Europe and North America, monitoring hundreds and sometimes over a thousand antisemitic manifestations and incidents of various types per country. The tendencies that characterized this difficult year, in which violent, verbal and visual expressions of antisemitism abounded, continued in the beginning of 2015, with increasing murderous and other attacks.
The overall feeling among many Jewish people is one of living in an intensifying anti- Jewish environment that has become not only insulting and threatening, but outright dangerous, and that they are facing an explosion of hatred towards them as individuals, their communities, and Israel, as a Jewish state. Comparisons to the 1930s are rampant, because Jews realized, especially in Europe that there are no more taboos and restrictions when it comes to antisemitic manifestations, and certainly no proportion between the unfolding events and the actual number of Jews in their respective communities and their real impact on the societies they live in; or between the intensive debate on Israel's role in the Middle East and the lack of such a debate when it comes to other Middle Eastern conflicts. Jewish community leaders and heads of organizations feel that they are put to test, because of the question hovering over the heads of the Jewish communities: What future is there for communities and individuals, especially in Europe. The issue is not only a matter of having more security means provided by the respective states, but rather of the ability to lead full Jewish life in Europe, especially under heavy police and even army protection, and the necessity to add self-defense to the communities' agenda.
During 2014 the Kantor Center registered 766 violent antisemitic acts perpetrated with or without weapons and by arson, vandalism or direct threats against Jewish persons or institutions such as synagogues, community centers, schools, cemeteries and monuments as well as private property. These 766 cases mark a sharp increase of 38% compared to 2013, in which 554 violent incidents were registered. In this regard 2014 has been the second worst year of the decade, coming next after 2009, with an increase of about 40% higher than the average numbers registered between the years 2004-2014.
Click here to read the full survey.
By Catherine Chatterley
The Huffington Post, January 27, 2015
Writer Karen Armstrong recently made the following statement in a Dutch interview: "The supermarket attack in Paris was about Palestine, about ISIS. It had nothing to do with antisemitism; many of them are Semites themselves. But they attempt to conquer Palestine and we're not talking about that. We're too implicated and we don't know what to do with it."
The Germans have a wonderful word that means nonsense, or bullshit, depending on the context: Quatsch.
The criminal terrorist assault on the kosher grocery in Paris on January 9, 2015 had everything to do with antisemitism, which is now unfortunately exacerbating an already complex and intractable conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
Arabs are not Semites and neither are Jews. Semites are a fictitious product of the European racial imaginary, and one would have hoped that a popular and opinionated writer like Armstrong would know that very important historical fact. Jews and Arabs are speakers of Semitic languages, Hebrew and Arabic respectively. It was this linguistic categorization that European thinkers racialized in the 19th century. Antisemitismus, a German word popularized by Wilhelm Marr in 1879, was used to modernize the more traditional Judenhass (Jew hatred), and it was never applied to anyone but Jews.
To disconnect the murders of French Jewish customers in a kosher grocery store from the antisemitic ideology of ISIS, to which their murderer Amedy Coulibaly pled allegiance, is a serious error. To try to connect these murders to Palestine is not fair to Jews or to Palestinians, and does nothing to improve the chances for peace in the region. Who exactly is conquering Palestine in Armstrong's words is not clear, but I think it's fair to assume that she means Israel. Again, this appears to have Armstrong justifying the violence against those same French Jews, buying milk at the corner store, as somehow retaliatory and therefore logical.
Denying the Jihadist roots of the recent antisemitic violence in France is not helpful to anyone, because it is fundamentally untrue. The intention of this denial is to shield the Muslim minorities among us in Western societies from a backlash of hostility and criticism, and to avoid feeding the Jihadist propaganda machine that promotes war between Western civilization and their imagined global caliphate. These are noble and respectable intentions but they cannot override or replace an honest and principled confrontation with today's reality, however complex and upsetting.
Just as Nazism grew out of German history and culture, and then hijacked a respected cultural heritage for its own nefarious purposes, strains of Islamic thought likewise inspire the growing variety of Jihadist movements that perpetrate horrendous violence on Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews, and other "infidels," as well as women, girls, and gay people, in the name of Islam.
Jihadist Islam is as much a hate-filled supremacist ideology as was Nazism, except that it uses religion instead of race as its organizing principle. Crucifying Christians, raping and enslaving women and little girls, throwing gay men to their deaths off buildings, massacring whole towns and villages, Jihadist Islam is as ruthless and barbaric as Nazism, and all decent people should condemn it in the same vociferous terms. Just as we condemn Nazism today as a dangerous form of racial supremacism, we should all condemn and isolate Jihadist Islam as a dangerous form of religious supremacism.
Denials of reality about the Jihadist roots of this violence are already feeding frustration in Western populations who know better. The well-intended strategy of protecting Muslims in the West will actually do the opposite -- it will very likely guarantee a backlash against Western Muslims by a growing right-wing movement. We already see an expansion of right wing support on this issue across Europe and even the UK, which has no well-established fascist tradition of which to speak. Here, we have a case of the West bringing about precisely what it seeks to avoid, and this must be stopped immediately.
If the individuals leading society were to begin an immediate and honest confrontation with the problem of Jihadist religious supremacism, in the West and throughout the world, we may see a reduction in support for right wing reactionary solutions. This would be a step in the right direction as it might actually build a genuine multicultural unity in Western societies, based upon our commitment to democratic principles of freedom and equality, which is what we all desire. It is in our common interest that we all vow to disassociate ourselves from ideologies, both religious and racial, committed to the destruction of others.
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Link to UK Survey
The Annual Antisemitism Barometer is the largest study of its kind. It reveals both the scale of antisemitic sentiment in Britain, and its effect on the increasingly-threatened British Jewish population.
Whilst antisemitism in Britain is not yet at the levels seen in most of Europe, the results of our survey should be a wakeup call. Britain is at a tipping point: unless antisemitism is met with zero tolerance, it will continue to grow and British Jews may increasingly question their place in their own country.
The year 2014 saw a record-breaking number of antisemitic incidents perpetrated against Jewish people and Jewish property in Britain. Antisemitism is usually most visible in Great Britain during crises involving Israel, but the sentiment behind it does not simply disappear when the crises end.
The Mayor of London’s office recently revealed that in July 2014, when fighting between Israel and Hamas peaked, the Metropolitan Police Service recorded its worst ever month for hate crime in London, 95% of which was antisemitic hate crime directly related to fighting between Israel and Hamas.
It was in response to this record-breaking wave of antisemitism that in August 2014, the Campaign Against Antisemitism organised a grassroots-led movement dedicated to identifying and combatting antisemitism of both a classical ethno-religious nature and also a political nature related to Israel.
Some antisemitic views may be totally unintentional but are no less offensive for it. Many people in the UK have simply never met Jewish people, and might have stereotypical ideas of them. This is a smaller problem which simply needs better education and discussion so that people can appreciate that, as with any minority group, Jewish people are not defined only by their religion or race. ‘Unintentional’ stereotypes should be highlighted more often, and those espousing them will be able to better understand that they are offensive.
To effectively fight antisemitism we must examine both its origins and its consequences. It is our hope that this study will shed light on both of these aspects of this pernicious form of racism, in order that we can reduce its presence in British society. Antisemitism is not a problem only for Jewish people, but for all of Britain, which must uphold its tradition of tolerance and pluralism.
By Catherine Chatterley
Huffington Post, December 31, 2014
Antisemitism presents a serious challenge for the global community today. The last decade has seen a shocking growth in antisemitic rhetoric and agitation, and routine acts of violence against Jews have returned to European cities 70 years after the Holocaust.
The battle between Israel and the Palestinians has become intractable, and the idea of a "peace process" that might finally resolve the issues is not taken as seriously as it was years ago. This fact does not bode well for Israelis or Palestinians, and given the obsessive focus on this conflict by the media and by both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel activist organizations, the lack of resolution and mounting frustration is an ongoing concern for all of us.
Today, we face a major impasse in our discussions about antisemitism: Where many Jews see a new or resurgent antisemitism, non-Jews are more likely to see political protest or a backlash against Israeli actions and policies. In truth, both characterizations can be accurate depending on the specific circumstance. Increasingly, however, this chasm in perception between Jews and non-Jews about the nature of antisemitism is widening, and it is one reason why there is a distinct lack of concern about the problem on the part of the world community today.
Along with news and debate about the conflicts in the Middle East, the Internet, satellite television, and social networking via cellphone allow people across the planet to share an enormous amount of explicit antisemitic material that is, quite frankly, poisoning the relationship between humanity and the Jewish people, making an intractable conflict even more difficult to resolve. This new reality is enormously threatening to a tiny people whose parents and grandparents survived being slated for extermination in Europe 70 years ago.
Antisemitic incitement breeds fear and anxiety in Jews and it destroys trust and goodwill, which makes authentic peacemaking between Jews and Arabs impossible. Anyone who claims to want to build peace between Jews and Arabs, especially those who want the Palestinians to build a positive peaceful future in their own state, should also commit to working against the problem of antisemitism and to help retard its growth, in the West and in the Arab and Islamic worlds. Antisemitism is one of the most serious impediments to peace in the Middle East, and that is why it should concern all of us.
Jews are an extremely small community of people on this planet, and non-Jewish attitudes and perceptions about Jews and Israel really do matter, especially in an increasingly globalized reality. In a world population of over 7 billion people, there are approximately 14 million Jews, and almost all of them live in only two countries: Israel and the United States. This means that Jews constitute 0.002 percent, or one fifth of one percent, of the entire human population on planet earth, which in turn means that while Jews know and interact with non-Jews, the vast majority of non-Jews will never meet a Jewish person. If this is our human reality, then what does it mean when 24 percent of the planet holds opinions deemed to be antisemitic, as reflected in the ADL's recent survey of 100 countries?
Obviously we have a phenomenon that is not based in reality or in actual human experience but is communicated and circulated through libel, rumor, mythology, and imagination, as it has been for 2,000 years. Given this, the new media presents a very significant challenge for those of us working to combat the lies and libels of antisemitism. Jewish existence is by necessity dependent upon, and determined by, relationships with the non-Jewish world. Antisemitism is a real and present danger to those relationships, and therefore it remains a threat to Jewish existence.
Our challenge for this new year is to clearly identify antisemitism as the conspiratorial and libelous phenomenon it in fact is so that people might consciously separate themselves from it and help mitigate the damage it does to Jews, their neighbors, and human societies.
By Phyllis Chesler, New York Post, October 19, 2014
I love opera. For almost three years, I regularly contributed to NPR's "At the Opera." I attend the Metropolitan Opera House as often as I can. But the decision to stage "The Death of Klinghoffer" represents an abdication of moral responsibility, political sensitivity and gravitas.
Met Opera General Manager Peter Gelb has a constitutional and artistic right to produce whatever he wants. Yet showcasing this opera is equivalent to a college president's inviting a member of ISIS, Hamas, or the Taliban to speak on campus because "all sides must be heard" and "all points of view are equally valid."
As a feminist, I wouldn't boycott an opera because the female heroes are betrayed, go mad or are murdered. As in life, our great operas are tragedies in which the heroes die.
But, where there are heroes there are also villains.
The villain in Puccini's "Tosca" is unmistakable: He is Scarpia, the police chief of Rome who tortures political prisoners and attempts to rape the great singer, Floria Tosca. We don't get a backstory about Scarpia's dysfunctional childhood, nor do we sympathize or identify with him.
He is a heartless villain and the opera doesn't allow (let alone ask) us to pity or sympathize with him. We are meant to fear and despise him, perhaps even hate him.
"Klinghoffer" begs us to sympathize with the villains — terrorists. This is something new.
"The Death of Klinghoffer" also demonizes Israel — which is what anti-Semitism is partly about today. It incorporates lethal Islamic (and now universal) pseudo-histories about Israel and Jews. It beatifies terrorism, both musically and in the libretto.
Composer John Adams has given the opening "Chorus of Exiled Palestinians" a beautiful, sacred musical "halo," à la Bach. "Chorus of Exiled Jews," by contrast, is dogged, mechanical, industrial, aggressive — relentless, military, hardly angelic.
This opera treats 6 million murdered Jews of the Holocaust as morally equivalent to perhaps 600,000 Palestinian Arabs who left during Israel's founding. They were not murdered, not ethnically cleansed, but rather pushed to flee their homes by Arab leaders who told them they'd return as soon as the Jews had been slaughtered.
"Klinghoffer" does not, of course, mention the at least 820,000 Arab, North African and Central Asian Jews forced into exile between 1948 and 1972. Nor that many Arabs didn't flee. Today, Israel has 1.7 million Arab Muslim and Christian citizens, about 20 percent of its population.
Jews are willing to live with Muslims and Christians — it is the Arab Muslim leaders who want to ethnically cleanse Jews and other infidels from allegedly Muslim lands.
Contrary to all claims, the libretto is not even-handed. The villains have more lines.
And better lines: The Palestinians sing: "My father's house was razed / in nineteen forty-eight / when the Israelis passed / Over our street."For example, the terrorists command 11 arias — 12, with the "Chorus of Exiled Palestinians." The Klinghoffers have two arias each, toward the end of the opera; add the exiled Jewish chorus and you have five arias for the innocent victims versus 12 for their victimizers.
The Jews sing: "When I paid off the taxi, I had no money left."
Indeed, the obsession with Jews and money is reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. The terrorist Rambo sings: "But wherever poor men / Are gathered they can / Find Jews getting fat . . . America / Is one big Jew."
The terrorists tell us they are "men of ideals," and that "this is an action for liberation." Hah. In reality, they didn't allow Marilyn Klinghoffer, who was exhausted and in pain from colon cancer, lie down.
They forced the passengers to stand under the broiling Mediterranean sun for days and to hold live grenades.
Leon Klinghoffer had suffered several strokes. He lacked full use of his hands, his legs were paralyzed, his speech slurred — and this is whom Molqui murders and throws overboard with his wheelchair.
Only a dead and murdered Jew — "Leon Klinghoffer's body" — is allowed to sing his death with some measure of grace (although most of the lyrics are incomprehensible).
The hijacking of the Achille Lauro was a 14-man Palestine Liberation Organization operation ordered by Arafat and Abu Abbas.
Eight terrorists simply walked out of Italy, claiming a spurious diplomatic status. The rest received sentences that ranged from four to 30 years, with early releases. All were considered heroes across the Arab world.
Choosing to stage "The Death of Klinghoffer" at the Met automatically confers upon it a prestige it does not deserve. The opera betrays the truth entirely and, in effect, joins the low-brow ranks of propagandists against Jewish survival.