Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Europe: Anti-Semitism likely to grow in 2016 (analysis)

Analysis by Sam Sokol @ The Jerusalem Post:

There are very few sure bets in life and even fewer guarantees. But we can always count on the ever reliable triumvirate of death, taxes and anti-Semitism. While the hatred of Jews has taken many forms (religious, racial, ideological) and been espoused by a great many disparate groups (the Church, Islamic fundamentalists, Nazis and communists), this age-old prejudice has proven itself to be remarkably resilient.

And while it is generally ill advised to engage in prognostication, it is a safe bet to predict a further increase in anti-Semitic violence in Europe over the year ahead.

“People understand there is no future for Jews in Europe,” Belgian Chief Rabbi Avraham Gigi recently stated, citing a growing sense of fear among his coreligionists. [Note: The comment by Rabbi Guigui went largely unreported, notably among the Jewish leaders and organisations in Belgium such as the CCOJB and the CCLJ, whereas the French CRIF reported the comment...]

This is a continuation of a trend that has been intensifying for several years, with the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) already reporting in 2013 that a third of Jews polled had said that they refrained from wearing religious garb or Jewish symbols out of fear and 23 percent avoided attending Jewish events or going to Jewish venues.

Anti-Semitic violence tracks events in the Middle East rather closely. It spiked in 2014 during Israel’s conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Synagogues were attacked by mobs, protesters called for Jews to be sent “to the gas” and in Brussels, a gunman opened fire at a Jewish museum, killing four. [...]

After lobbying by Jewish groups, the European Commission recently appointed Katharina von Schnurbein as the continent’s first coordinator on combating anti-Semitism.  However, doubts remain about the efficacy of European efforts to combat anti-Semitic violence, which is largely associated with immigrant Muslim populations.  While the far right has definitely made gains in several European nations, the largest threat, Jewish leaders have said, is not from neo-Nazis or fascists.

Commenting on Paris’ announcement of a €100 million plan to combat rising levels of anti-Semitism, critics, such as Prof. Robert Wistrich, the late head of Hebrew University’s Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism, have said that while they believe that the country has made good-faith efforts in the past, unless Europeans face up to the treatment of Israel in the media and the link between Muslim immigrant populations and anti-Semitism, all the efforts being made are “no more than tinkering with the surface of things.”  

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