Thursday, December 13, 2018

Italy: Outrage after plaques honoring Rome's deported Jews stolen

Via Ynet News:
Rome’s mayor, Catholic groups and politicians of every stripe joined Italy’s Jewish community this week in denouncing the theft of 20 small bronze plaques honoring a Jewish family deported during the Holocaust.

The plaques, affixed to the cobblestones in front of the Di Consiglio family home in the Monti neighborhood of downtown Rome, were taken overnight. A gaping hole in the cobblestones was all that remained Monday.

The organization responsible for laying the plaques, “Art in Memory,” reported the theft. In July, the same group reported receiving a threatening letter featuring a photo of Adolf Hitler.

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France: Tax protests often feature anti-Semitic rhetoric

Via JTA:
Protests in France over taxes are giving rise to anti-Semitic rhetoric, a prominent watchdog group said.

The head of the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Antisemitism, or BNVCA, Sammy Ghozlan, said Wednesday that “the ‘Yellow Jackets’ movement has an anti-Semitic base that repeats conspiracy theories about Jews and power.”

Launched last month as a protest against a proposed rise in diesel and fuel taxes, the movement has expanded into an anti-government drive featuring violent riots that have shut down the French capital several times. Some protesters have been filmed carrying signs and chanting slogans describing French President Emmanuel Macron as a “whore of the Jews” and their “puppet.”

Such language “was present from the very beginning of the protests and persists,” Ghozlan said, although he added that it exists “on the margins” of the protests. France has seen a 69 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2018 over the past year.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

UK: Life imitates art as play about antisemitism faces wave of abuse

Via Guardian:
A new play about rising antisemitism that opens in a London theatre this week has become the target of antisemitic abuse. One Jewish Boy by Stephen Laughton focuses on the relationship between a Jewish man and a mixed-race, non-Jewish woman, their experiences of hatred and abuse, and the impact on their marriage. “It’s about big themes on a domestic level,” Laughton said.

Since publicity for the play was launched in September, Laughton has been targeted with abuse on social media, and posters for the production have been defaced and torn down. Palestinian flags were posted online in response to mentions of the play.

Among the comments were: “Who cares about Jews? This looks shit”; “I must say I do not give a fuck. Perhaps you could write a play about Palestinian kids getting blown to pieces by Jews”; and “You’re a fucking enabler. You Jews disgust me”.

Laughton said he was saddened by the responses. “I expected something, but I didn’t anticipate they’d come for me. I’m worried there’ll be more antisemitism when the play opens, and I’m worried it could become physical.” The Community Security Trust, which protects and defends British Jews, had been consulted.

Laughton said he had wanted to write about antisemitism for some time as he had watched friends – mostly liberal Jews who are critical of the Israeli government’s policies – become more fearful about rising tensions and overt abuse.

“The play has been written from a place of tangible fear. Things that were on the fringes of the far right and the far left started creeping in to the mainstream.

“In the last few years it seems like people feel they have permission to be antisemitic,” he said. “You see it in our politics, on our social media, with our kids getting beaten up on the streets. I wanted to chart that.”


Laughton said his Jewish identity was of central importance to him. He belongs to Liberal Judaism, a small, radical denomination, and is “historically a Labour party supporter”. He described himself as a “romantic Zionist” with an attachment to the Jewish homeland but is highly critical of blockades and settlements. At the end of each performance during the play’s four-week run, collections will be taken for Medical Aid for Palestinians, a charity that delivers healthcare for those affected by the conflict, and Rabbis for Human Rights, an Israeli organisation that focuses on settlements and human rights violations.

The closing night of the show will be followed by a vigil for peace, incorporating a Havdalah service marking the end of Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath, and a recitation of Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.

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Unprecedented EU Poll Finds 90% Of European Jews Feel Anti-Semitism Increasing

Via Jewish Week:
Nearly 90 percent of European Jews feel that anti-Semitism has increased in their home countries over the past five years, and almost 30% say they have been harassed at least once in the past year, reveals a major European Union report published on Monday.

The poll was carried out in 12 European Union member states, and was the largest ever of its kind worldwide.

Of the more than 16,000 Jews who participated in the online survey, 85% rated anti-Semitism the biggest social or political problem in the country where they live. Thirty-eight percent said they had considered emigrating because they did not feel safe as Jews.

Britain, Germany, and Sweden saw the sharpest increases in those saying anti-Semitism is a “very big” or “fairly big” problem. The highest level recorded was in France at 95%. Denmark saw the lowest level at 56%, while Jews in Hungary suggested that anti-Semitism was becoming less of a problem. 

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

What does anti-Semitism look like in Europe in 2018?

Via CNN:
It's a 17-year-old boy, too frightened to wear a kippa (a religious skullcap) on the streets of Paris. It's an Israeli restaurant owner in Berlin who is told that he will end up in the gas chambers. It's a 24-year-old Austrian who knows nothing about the Holocaust. It's the armed guards outside synagogues and Jewish schools across much of Europe. It's the online chat rooms where people peddle conspiracy theories that Jewish "globalists" run the world.
It can be violent or subtle. Overt or insidious. Political or personal. It can come from the right or the left. It exists in countries that have large Jewish populations, like France, and it also flourishes in places with smaller Jewish communities, like Poland.

More than a quarter of Europeans surveyed believe Jews have too much influence in business and finance. One in five say they have too much influence in media and politics. In individual countries the numbers are often higher: 42% of Hungarians think Jews have too much influence in finance and business across the world.

While 44% of Europeans agree that anti-Semitism is a growing problem, a substantial minority is unsympathetic to the problem. Almost one in five (18%) agree that most anti-Semitism in their country is a response to the "everyday behavior of Jewish people." In Poland, 50% of people think that Jews use the Holocaust to advance their position; 19% of Hungarians admit to having an unfavorable impression of Jews altogether.

So why is anti-Semitism a growing phenomenon once again? Poland's Chief Rabbi, Brooklyn-born Michael Schudrich, is not sure the problem ever really went away.

"There will always be people who had anti-Semitic feelings and I don't know if the number has grown but this new situation today is they feel that it's more acceptable socially that they can express these opinions out loud...

"The feeling beforehand was, 'This is what I believe but don't tell anyone.' It was not perfect but at least there was a social taboo against anti-Semitism."

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Hungary: Jobbik Deputy Leader to Step Down After Anti-Semitic Recording Surfaces

Via Hungary Today:
Jobbik deputy group leader and parliamentary notary István Szávay announced his immediate resignation on Thursday following the release of recordings containing anti-Semitic comments and details of an alleged assault.

On Wednesday, Hir TV presented a sound recording of Szávay privately informing fellow party members at a spring congress that he had verbally and physically assaulted a Jewish woman in a pub the previous day. According to Szávay, the woman initiated the conflict:

“She was yelling, ‘Nazis are stinking here,’ and I just knocked her out, dirty Jew, pakk, just like this.”

He admitted that the recording and the anti-Semitic comments were authentic, however, he insisted that he did not actually physically harm the woman.

In a message posted to his Facebook page on Thursday, Szávay said he informed group leader Márton Gyöngyösi about his resignation, which was accepted, and announced that he will remain a member of the Parliament.
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Monday, December 3, 2018

Switzerland: Synagogue in Basel vandalized

Via JTA:
A Chabad Lubavitch synagogue in Basel, Switzerland was vandalized.

A window of the synagogue was smashed in with a hammer, the BZ Basel news website reported.

The damage was discovered on Saturday morning as worshippers gathered for the Shabbat morning service.

“I’ve been living in Basel for 16 years. It’s the first time that I have been worried about myself and my family,” Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski of Chabad Lubavitch told BZ Basel.

There currently are no suspects in the incident, the Basel public prosecutor’s office told the news website.

The incident comes after a kosher butcher shop in Basel was vandalized four times in one month in what local Jews have condemned as an anti-Semitic campaign of intimidation.

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Saturday, December 1, 2018

Poland: Will they „hang a Jew” under the Israeli embasy? Police prepares for Saturday

Translated from Gazeta Wyborcza (many thanks!):

"You know me, it’s going down. I promise I’ll put up a scaffold under the Israeli embassy and I’ll hang a Jew from it” -- this is how Slawomir Dul announces his Saturday demonstration. Our reader calls for action to the ABW [Agency of Internal Security] and the police.

„I’ve been trying to get several forces to notice these men, but they don’t seem to be interested in any kind of intervention. It’s even more puzzling to me since what I have found out about the man who started in the past local election as a candidate for a member of the [city district] council is  shocking. He also invited a man who called for people to join him in „hanging an effigy of a Jew” under the embassy of Israel to appear on his Youtube channel - says Piotr [the name has been changed], our informer.

Candidate for [Warsaw] city district council: „Ukraine needs to be partitioned”

The man who has been accused by our reader is Damian Bieńko, ran in [the last month’s] election for the council of the Praga-Południe district of Warsaw as the No. 1 candidate on the ballot from the Wolność [Freedom] party of Janusz Korwin-Mikke [note: it is a far-right, eurosceptical party, openly anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, anti-women’s rights, racist and often also antisemitic party, the leader is currently an MEP]. He was the head of the Narodowa Wolna Polska organization [National/Nationalist Free Poland] - one of the smallest nationalist organisations, which is notable for its sympathy towards Russia and the Donbas separatists. „Ukraine needs to be partitioned. so that its territories will return to the rightful owners - Donbas to Russia, Lviv to Poland, Carpathian Ruthenia to Hungary”, says Bieńko in his online recordings. Currently, he runs a Youtube channel called TWN Telewizja Wolności Narodu [Television of Freedom of the Nation].

On 22nd of November, his guest was Sławomir Dul, a member of Confederacy of Parents. The man has announced a demonstration under the embassy, which is to include a „hanging of an effigy of a Jew”.

Dul has been previously noted for a long court struggle during which he attempted to regain the custody of his children [he held a hunger strike in Piotrkow Trybunalski after having the visitation rights revoked], as well as burning an effigy of Jaroslaw Kaczynski [the leader of the ruling right-wing party] in 2016. It was a way of manifesting his support for Piotr Rybak, who has been sentenced to 10 months of inprisonment after burning an effigy of a Jew in Wroclaw. Dul has said of the judge who sentenced Rybak: „he should be put against a wall and executed by a firing squad.”

In the TWN show, Dul has announced his plans to organise a march from the Ukrainian embassy to the Israeli embassy on December 1st at 12 PM. He invites all the Polish people to join, „from the left and the right alike” - "You know me, it’s going down. I promise I’ll put up a scaffold under the Israeli embassy and I’ll hang a Jew from it,” he says.

Bieńko joins him - „I also invite you. Even if you don’t agree, come, watch the show, maybe you’ll join the troupe.”

KSP: We aren’t downplaying the issue

Our informer has contacted the KSP [Police Headquarter in Warsaw], including the protection of diplomatic posts division, the anti-terrorist division and the homicide division. „The video remains on YouTube though. They aren’t doing anything. I demand blocking it and looking into those people. I’m ashamed that this is going on in Poland,” Piotr says angrily.

Warrant officer Mariusz Mrozek from the Warsaw Police Headquarter assures that the case is known to the police, and that the emails have been noted. „Maybe your informer hasn’t received a response, but we are treating the matter seriously. We are in touch with the city hall. The Office of Security and Crisis Management has informed its Ochota district cell, as this is where the embassy of Israel is located.”

As officer Mrozek says, Dul has attempted to register his demonstration [at the city hall], but the city didn’t approve it, partly because of his YouTube annoucement. Dul has appealed.

„According to the informations I received, the city sent a set of documents to the Ochota district's court, as well as the prosecutor’s office. Still, no matter what the decision will be, we are aware of the fact that some people break the bans. Therefore we are preparing ourselves for everything that might happen on Saturday. We are not downplaying the issue,” adds officer Mrozek.

Friday, November 30, 2018

UK: Antisemitic, racist and other discriminatory abuse rise in football for sixth straight year

Via Telegraph:
Reports of antisemitic, racist and other discriminatory abuse within English football have risen for the sixth year in a row, according to the latest figures from Kick It Out.

Football's equality and inclusion organisation has revealed there were a total of 520 reports of abuse last season, up 11 per cent from 469 in 2016/17, with racist abuse accounting for more than half of the cases.

One in 10 reports of abuse concerned antisemitism, while reports of disability discrimination more than doubled from 14 to 29.

The statistics are compiled from all levels of the game and include reports of abuse on social media.
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Germany: Israeli reporter attacked in Berlin ‘for speaking Hebrew’

Via Times of Israel:
An Israeli journalist was recently attacked in Berlin while trying to film a report, with video capturing a group of men harassing her and then apparently attacking her with a firecracker.

Antonia Yamin claimed the attack occurred because she spoke Hebrew, with several men throwing a firecracker at her and at her cameraman, while trying to film a report.

A video of the incident was published Sunday on Twitter by Yamin, Europe correspondent for Israel’s public broadcaster Kan.


German daily Bild reported that the assailants were immigrants.

Yamin later tweeted that she had been asked by police to give a statement but shied from labeling the attack as anti-Semitic.

Speaking to Bild, Yamin suggested she was targeted because she was speaking Hebrew and had Hebrew writing on her microphone, although she said she did not know definitively if that was the reason for the attack.

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

UK: Racist who gave Nazi salutes and shouted 'child killers' during anti-Semitism rally is jailed for six months

Via Daily Mail:

A racist who gave Nazi salutes during an anti-Semitism rally then tried to claim it was 'freedom of speech' has been jailed.

Catering assistant Joseph Brogan, 27, shouted 'child killers' and 'you people should live in Israel' as hundreds of people, including MPs and rabbis, took part in a march.

As marshals at the rally in Manchester intervened, Brogan continued to hurl profanities and then raised his arm to mimic the Nazi salute before he was arrested.

One of the abused security staff later revealed members of his family had perished in the Holocaust.

Brogan, from Openshaw in Manchester admitted racially aggravated threatening behaviour but later tried to claim he was giving his opinion on 'Zionism'.

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Netherlands: 43% of Jews say they hide their ethnic identity

Via Times of Israel:
Nearly half of 557 respondents in a survey of Dutch Jews said they were afraid of identifying as such.

Of the respondents, 43 percent said they take active steps to hide their Jewish identity, such as wear a hat over their kippah or hide Star of David pendants.

Many respondents cited their perception of a rise in the prevalence of anti-Semitic sentiment, with 48% saying they avoid situations where they suspect they may be exposed to anti-Semitic reactions.

The results of the survey were published Monday.

Other key findings were that 52% of respondents said anti-Semitism on the street has become more common, 59% said it extends also to media and 82% see it rising online.

When it came to experiencing anti-Semitism, 34% said they had experienced racially offensive remarks directed against them, and of those, 89% said that those remarks were connected to Israel. 11% of respondents said they had experienced anti-Semitic violence directed against them.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they heard anti-Semitic jokes, featuring stereotypes about Jews. Other jokes involved the Holocaust. One respondent said a neighbor once told him that the only reason the respondent is living in the Netherlands is “because they forgot to gas” his family.

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Germany: 'The word Jew was not a common insult when I went to is now.'

Via CNN:

Rachel always thought it was best to hide her religion from her high school students. The trouble started a few years ago when she let slip to a student that she was Jewish.

"I found swastikas scribbled in their textbooks, they drew penises around my name on the blackboard, and they'd yell like 'Hey, Jew' at me during class," said Rachel, a teacher in Berlin. "It became harder... to do my job."

Rachel, whose name has been changed because of safety concerns, went to her headmaster, and then to the police, but she said neither took her complaint seriously and would not intervene.

She said things got worse. The students saw Israel as a menace, an oppressor of the Palestinian people and viewed her as a stand-in for the Jewish state, she said. They took out their frustration by screaming anti-Semitic slurs at her.

Last year, she decided to switch schools for her own safety. She has not told her new students she's Jewish.

In a country still haunted by the Holocaust, anti-Semitic incidents in the classroom offer clear evidence that deep wounds haven't healed. Some Jewish teachers and students say they are caught between a surge of traditional right-wing anti-Semitism and threats from Muslim immigrants angry at Israel.

Unsure of how to deal with anti-Semitism in the classroom, Jewish teachers very often keep incidents to themselves to avoid tipping off their own religious identity, according to Marina Chernivsky, the head of the Berlin-based organization Kompetenz Zentrum für Pravention und Empowerment (or Competence Center for Prevention and Empowerment), which provides counseling to individual and institutions after anti-Semitic and discriminatory incidents.

She recently held a workshop to help Jewish teachers deal with anti-Semitism in their classrooms. Around 20 Jewish teachers attended the session; Chernivsky said it was the first time many of them opened up about the problem.

"It's not normal to be Jewish in Germany so anti-Semitism is not normal to talk about," Chernivsky said. "It's very taboo."

It took history and politics teacher Michal Schwartze years to reveal her religion to her students.

The Frankfurt based 42-year-old said she didn't feel comfortable teaching about the Holocaust, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or anti-Semitism in Europe without being transparent with her students.

"I don't say hey I am Jewish, but I make it clear that I am personally affected," said Schwartze.

A few years ago, Schwartze penned an article in her school's newspaper encouraging students to stop using the word "Jew" as a slur. She said she took a risk writing the piece, but it raised awareness around anti-Semitism at her school.

"Fortunately, I have colleagues who are sensitive and a headmaster who has an interest in preventing anti-Semitism," says Schwartze. She cautioned that Jewish teachers who don't have similar support need to "hide their identity."
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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

UK: Company apologises to Jewish residents for telling them to take down their mezuzot

Via Jewish Chronicle:
A management company has apologised to its Jewish residents for threatening to take their mezuzot down if they did not remove it themselves.

Warwick Estates said on Monday it was sorry for the "overzealous" letter to residents of Cedarwood Court, near Stamford Hill, which said hanging mezuzot on front doors breached the terms of the residents' leases and they could be billed if they did not take them down.

The letter was sent last week, saying hanging objects outside their homes was against the terms of their leases. It specifically singled out the mezuzah, the rolled-up scroll of parchment Jewish families customarily hang on their front doors.

One residentsaid she had never seen anyone complain about the mezuzot in 10 years living in the area and the mayor of Hackney said he would intervene.

On Monday, the company backtracked, a day after the JC reported the letter and the anger it had caused locally. 

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UK: Labour AM 'deeply sorry' over comments on Cardiff's Jewish community

Via Wales Online:
Cardiff Central Labour AM Jenny Rathbone is facing a call for her to resign or be expelled in the wake of controversial reported comments about Jews and anti-Semitism.

She will meet with a local rabbi to apologise and will refer herself for “equalities training”.

The Jewish Chronicle released a recording in which she appears to link anti-Semitism to Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories and argue that Jews in this country have a responsibility to promote peace.

In the recording, she is told that a synagogue in the Cyncoed area of Cardiff has had to “install bulletproof glass” but she suggests that “siege mentalities are also a part of this”

The AM compares the Welsh synagogue to a “fortress” and says it is hard for her to judge “how much of it is for real and how much of it is in their own heads”.

Her comments, made in 2017, have triggered alarm among Jewish groups and a call for her to quit.

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