One last Holocaust Memorial Day-related post, this time on the continued growth of both European and Islamic antisemitism.
A report presented by Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein to the cabinet showed that European antisemitism is on the rise, although America and Canada are not immune either:
The number of anti-Semitic incidents worldwide rose worryingly, according to a report on anti-Semitic trends prepared by Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein and presented at Sunday’s cabinet meeting. The report indicates a rise in terror acts and attempted terror attacks against Jewish targets, particularly by those associated with extremist Islamist movements or the radical Right.
Edelstein’s report coincided with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marked globally on Sunday.
The report mentions a rise in street attacks, both verbal and physical, against Jews throughout the world. The trend is most pronounced in Western Europe. However, anti-Semitic incidents are up throughout the world, in Eastern and Western Europe as well as in the U.S., Canada and Australia.
This is the fourth year that the report has been issued. It is based on data collected by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University, headed by Professor Dina Porat. The 2012 report opened with an in-depth look at the attack on the Jewish Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse, France, where a teacher and three children were gunned down last March.
The report also revealed that the Toulouse attack led to an increase in Islamist and extreme rightist anti-Semitic activity. Statistics published at the end of October reveal that the number of anti-Semitic incidents of all kinds in 2012 was 45 percent higher than the previous year.
The report also warns of the rise in political power of right-wing and radical left-wing parties in Egypt and Ukraine. In South American countries such as Venezuela and Chile, Israel is a main subject of political propaganda, which makes use of classic anti-Semitic motifs like the claim that Jews have power in disproportion to their numbers, or that they have dual loyalty. Some individuals use Holocaust denial to garner support.
On manifestations of anti-Semitism in the Arab and Muslim world, the report says there is no significant change from the previous year, and contrary to expectations, the responses to Israel’s recent offensive in Gaza — Operation Pillar of Defense — were much milder than the responses to Operation Cast Lead in December 2008.
“This is most likely because the operation lasted only a few days, the number of victims on the Palestinian side was relatively low, and public opinion in the Arab world was focused on problems in Syria and Egypt,” the report suggests.
Nevertheless, the report looks at the expressions of incitement by the ayatollahs in Iran and says, “It appears that the worse the sanctions aimed at isolating Iran, the greater the vigor with which it adopts anti-Semitic messages.”
In the digital world, the report says, classic anti-Semitism continues to proliferate. This includes anti-Semitic websites, social networks and smartphone applications. Conspiracy theories, including the highly utilized Protocols of the Elders of Zion, continue to be popular on social networks and websites.
According to Edelstein, the report proves that there is no connection between Israeli policies and racist incidents.
Despite there being no rise in Islamic antisemitism, the status quo is not exactly wonderful. Professor Charles Small of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) says that ISGAP will be studying this sad issue:
The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them. They invented socialism, communism, human rights, and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these [inventions], they have now gained control of the most powerful countries. And they, this tiny community, have become a world power.”
Those words, as clear an expression of classical anti-Semitic tropes as one could hope to find, were not uttered by white supremacists in an American prison or in a Bin Laden video broadcast from the mountains of the Hindu Kush.
Neither was this quote: “Dear brothers, we must not forget to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred towards those Zionists and Jews, and all those who support them. They must be nursed on hatred. The hatred must continue.”
Those who follow the anti-Semitic utterances of Muslim leaders will recognize both diatribes.
The first was uttered in 2003 by Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister. Mohamad was not caught unawares by the camera. He was not embarrassed when his words were broadcast. In fact, his warnings about Jewish power and the nefarious Jewish invention of both communism and democracy were delivered from a broad, wood-paneled stage before hundreds of heads of state and ambassadors from 116 countries gathered at the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Kuala Lumpur.
The second quote was delivered more recently — and closer to home. It was uttered by none other than Egypt’s current president, Mohammed Morsi, the leader of Israel’s largest neighbor, just two years ago.
The world knows all about these views, which are voiced daily in media outlets throughout the Muslim world, and often make their way into the speeches of Muslim heads of state. But the world shrugs.
And that, according to sociologist Dr. Charles Small, does not bode well for the future of the Muslim world — or for the rest of us.
“There is a crisis in the world,” says Small, an Oxford-educated Canadian-Israeli scholar of anti-Semitism, in a recent conversation with The Times of Israel.
The danger does not come from Islam itself, he emphasizes. The Muslim world is as big and complex as any great civilization.
Rather, “we’re talking about all the variations of radical political Islam, or Islamism, which is a term I prefer to use.” Islamism, a modern political ideology that seeks to borrow legitimacy from Islamic text and tradition, “has at its ideological core a profoundly deadly anti-Semitism. Al-Qaeda certainly has it. And Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood have had it since their inception, for nearly a century,” Small says.
Iran’s rulers have it, too. Indeed, it has seeped into the mainstream of political discourse in countless Muslims societies.
“It’s striking. Every research center on anti-Semitism in the world, including in Israel, is run by historians, and it’s not focused on contemporary issues. The fact that our group at Yale was the first research center [on anti-Semitism] in an American university — is itself a research question. Why did it take until 2006 for this to happen?”
YIISA, the Yale Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism, was established in 2006 by the nonprofit Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) which Small heads. The Yale institute produced research papers and conferences, including in 2011 the largest-ever academic conference on anti-Semitism.
YIISA was closed by the university under mysterious circumstances in 2011. (Note: I blogged about it here). …
But the closure drew a torrent of criticism. Walter Reich, former director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and a professor at George Washington University who was on YIISA’s academic board of advisers, lamented in the Washington Post that “Yale just killed the country’s best institute for the study of anti-Semitism.”
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz complained that the closure was conducted “without even a semblance of due process and transparency,” with the review panel’s report kept confidential even from Small himself.
Small’s supporters believe it was the very attempt to deal with contemporary anti-Semitism, especially in the societies where it is most widespread and least challenged, that doomed America’s first institute of its kind.
For Small, the Yale experience, cut off so suddenly after six years, is a signal that his work is hitting a nerve and challenging a real problem.
“There’s a reluctance among scholars to open up this subject,” he says in his polite, affable way. “This subject is dangerous, embarrassing. It touches on various political interests in international relations that people don’t really want to engage with.”
Engaging with that issue is what ISGAP is all about. Now freed of its Yale anchor, ISGAP has begun to grow.
“We need to be interdisciplinary and critical. We need people on the ground, who speak Arabic and Farsi, to understand the history and sociology and anthropology” of the societies being studied.
The institute plans to study academia, too. “We need an intellectual approach, to understand philosophically why radical Islam has such acquiescence, how the West aids and abets a social movement such as the Muslim Brotherhood that is [so radically opposed to its values].”
Part of that question must deal with the culture in Western academia, says Small. “You have the politically correct element on American campuses, where people believe that if you start examining anti-Semitism in the Middle East, you’re making excuses for Israel. You have people like [renowned feminist philosopher] Judith Butler, a brilliant woman, gay, Jewish, a serious intellectual, who can get up and argue that Hamas and Hezbollah, because they are anti-Zionist, are part of the progressive movement.”
The study should make extremely interesting reading. It could start with the disgusting Sunday Times Cartoon and David Ward MP. There is certainly no lack of material to study.
When I heard that Trocaire had prepared an online educational resource for secondary schools on the Israel-Palestine question, I didn’t exactly sit up and take notice at first. I’m sure it can’t be too bad, I thought.
But my worries began when I looked more closely at the Palestinian flag on the front page. Not a good start in terms of balance.
Rather puzzled by this, I contacted Trocaire. They told me that this online resource has now been taken off their website in order to review it. They have now decided not to put a revised version up and have decided to focus on the issue of boycotting produce from Israeli settlements.
But the real question is how did such a presentation of the conflict get to be written in the first place?
What gets me about the Middle East is how threatened people seem to be by the only Jewish state in the world.
There are 126 states with a Christian majority, 49 with a Muslim majority. Nobody questions their right to be there. Yet there is only one Jewish country, Israel, and a lot of people have a difficulty accepting its right to exist.
Trocaire say they have not called for a boycott of Israeli goods as such. They say that their campaign asks the Irish Government and the EU to ban goods from Israeli settlements from entering the EU “because they are illegal” and because these goods are labelled as “produce of Israel”.
Well I suppose Trocaire’s concern for correct consumer labelling is to be commended but it is hardly the key reason for a boycott.
Israel is the only country in the Middle East that fully protects gay rights. Religious freedom. Free political dissent. Equal rights for women. By contrast, the Palestinian regime has somewhat different views on women and gays, as well as, shall we say, a rather old-fashioned attitude when it comes to the death penalty.
And the squeeze is now being put on Christians in the Arab world. Maybe you would have thought that persecution of Christians would be a bigger issue for the Catholic bishops and their aid agency, Trocaire.
I’m glad that Trocaire’s resource will no longer be available to schools – except maybe in a media studies class about balance.
Ouch! Well said Mr. Humphrys! And thank you for having the bravery and the courage of your convictions to go so publicly against the grain. If only there were more politicians like Mr. Humphrys all round the world.