Antisemitism in Western Europe – in the Year 2002
1. In 2002, there was considerable antisemitic activity in Europe. Of particular note is the wave of anti-Jewish activity in April 2002, parallel to the Defensive Shield Operation in Israel. For the first time in many years reports were received on fear and tension in Jewish communities in Western Europe and the need for Jews to hide their Jewish identity in public as a means of protecting their physical safety.
2. During the month of April 2002, during the Defensive Shield Operation in Israel, we were witness to an unusual wave of anti-Jewish incidents worldwide, especially in Europe, France, Belgium and Britain. As was the case in the past, this wave of incidents points to the strong connection between the escalation of events in the Territories and the struggle with the Palestinians and the number and intensity of anti-Jewish incidents in the Diaspora, especially in those countries with large Muslim communities.
3. An analysis of the incidents in the April 2002 wave generally indicates a similarity between the modi operandi used in these incidents and those at the beginning of the Intifadah in September-October 2000, i.e., tossing of Molotov cocktails and numerous acts of arson against Jewish targets (especially synagogues and schools) and frequent physical attacks on Jews, particularly those with external features identifying them as Jews (skullcaps, a Star of David pendant and the like). There are also similarities between this wave and the previous one (young, unorganized, Muslims in most of the incidents).
4. The wave of antisemitic activities in April 2002 were characterized by a higher level of “chutzpah” and bravado of the perpetrators and the backing they received from the local Arab/Muslim communities and from elements among the public, especially on the radical left.
5. Western Europe stood out in the scope of anti-Israel and anti-Zionist incidents and in their vociferousness, mainly from the radical left camp, but also in the media which spilled over into antisemitism per se. Anti-Jewish feelings moved from the fringes to the center of the public debate through their being camouflaged as anti-Israel/anti-Zionist expressions and apparently also served as the “safety valve” for the release of latent anti-Jewish feelings in Western Europe.
6. Anti-Israel/ anti-Zionist propaganda apparatuses originating in the Arab world and Middle Eastern patterns of behavior have been exported to Western Europe and have influenced local European communities and the manner in which they behave.
TRENDS EXACERBATED IN 2002
7. Islamic anti-Semitic/Zionist/Israel activities increased in all arenas and at all levels. The Islamic arena has three levels which have influence on the Jewish communities and Israel.
– THE POLITICAL LEVEL – The anti-Western culture trend has grown stronger within the Muslim communities in Europe, as has the return to Islam and the opposition to becoming a part of or integrating into European society.
– This phenomenon is exploited in spreading the activities of Islamic and Arab organizations from country to country and the expansion of these activities in Europe in general. The AEL -Arab European League – active in Belgium, and its leader, Abou Jahjah, are excellent examples of this in their call for Muslim separatism, and have caused radicalization among young Muslims in Belgium, directly resulting in increased antisemitism.
– THE “STREET” LEVEL – Most of the violent anti-Jewish demonstrations in the course of 2002 were at the “street” level. European Jews (mainly in France and Belgium) suffered frequent attacks, threats and name calling on the streets by Muslims, mostly youths. The young Muslims view the Jews as completely identified with Israel and vent their vengeance, anger and protest on Jewish community institutions. In addition to that, the efforts of the Muslims in street demonstrations have taken on the propaganda patterns of those in the Middle East. They have also begun imitating such phenomena as suicide bombers. In the demonstrations all over the world, mainly in Europe, there have been calls to kill the Jews and many of the demonstrators wore dummy “explosive belts”. In many cases the participators in the demonstrations are asked to bring their children with them. These children absorb values similar to those disseminated in the Middle East including on the subject of “suicide attacks”.
– THE TERRORISM LEVEL – European Jewish institutions, like Jewish locations all over the world, are potential terrorist targets. Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda have placed Jewish targets at the head of their list of priorities as targets for terrorist attacks. A terrorist attack against a Jewish target has already been carried out in Djerba, Tunisia, and plots to carry out such attacks against other Jewish targets have either been foiled or exposed.
8. The connections between the radical leftist organizations and Palestinian and Islamic organizations have become stronger over the past year. The old ideological connection was expressed in 2002 on two main issues: identification with the Palestinian cause and the protests against the war in Iraq. The activities of the radical left are manifest in several ways:
– Expressions of support can be found in publications, in mass demonstrations and on Internet sites.
– Delegations of support, aid and provocation visit the Palestinian Territories. The delegations are fed one-sided information, document what is happening in the Territories, return to their home countries and “poison” the field with biased anti-Israel propaganda.
– Encouragement for the economic, political and cultural boycott of Israel.
– Encouragement of the creation of alliances between European (mostly French) towns with Palestinians towns and refugee camps in order to provide assistance to the Palestinians in anti-Israel propaganda.
9. There has also been an increase in support from the radical right and neo-Nazi organizations for the Palestinian cause against the Jews. This is mostly tactical assistance, mainly in proving claims about the negative objectives of the Jews. Parallel to this there is the admiration within the neo-Nazi organizations for the “Palestinian “heroes of the Intifadah” and for the suicide attacks. In addition, there are the continued accusations by the Muslim and neo-Nazi organizations of a Jewish-Israel conspiracy behind the 11th September attacks.
10. The phenomena on the university campuses – The Palestinian/ Arab Students’ Associations and the radical leftist organizations as well some of the academic staffs have created a most hostile atmosphere at the universities. Jewish students find themselves at the front line of the struggle against resolutions stating that Israel is a racist, apartheid state, and their freedom to speak their minds has become weakened because of the fear for their physical safety.
11. Note should be made of the fact that the phenomena and the remarks tolerated in Western Europe when emanating from the Muslim and pro-Palestinian population, would not be tolerated if their source were Neo-Nazi and in the radical right. Thus a double standard exists, because of the ostensible “legitimacy” of the Palestinian struggle. When the source of these remarks or actions is Muslim or Palestinian, the act is not judged but the reason is analyzed.
PROPAGANDA – PROMINENT ELEMENTS
12. Most of the present propaganda is focused on expressions against the Jewish/Jewish State collective and not the individual Jew. Hatred for the “Jewish State” and the de-legitimizing of Israel has replaced hatred of the Jew as an individual in propaganda, providing legitimacy for attacking him.
13. What stands out is the readiness of the countries of Western Europe to warmly adopt the images and the comparisons of Israel’s actions to the policies and actions of the Nazis (Zionazism). Making the victim the aggressor serves the Muslim world very well in the Palestinian context, while at the same time provides Europeans with a kind of “purification” effect, where feelings of guilt towards the Jewish people because of the Holocaust and the behavior of the countries of Europe during World War II are purged.