Friday, October 16, 2015

Washington: European anti-Israel sentiment crossed the line into anti-Semitism

France experienced a 101% increase in anti-Semitic acts last year, says report.

The Jerusalem Post reports:
Paris demonstration "Death to the Jews"
Last summer’s European “wave of anti-Israel sentiments... crossed the line into anti-Semitism,” the US State Department declared in its annual report on international religious freedom.

The annual report, which covered issues of religious freedom worldwide over the course of 2014, was released Wednesday in Washington by Secretary of State John Kerry and US ambassador for religious freedom Rabbi David Saperstein.

The surge in anti-Semitism in Western Europe last year “left many pondering the viability of Jewish communities in some countries,” the report said.

Asked by a reporter how he determined the dividing line between anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments, Saperstein replied that while criticism of any nation is appropriate, the difference is “right on the cusp of that line when it holds one country to different standards than it would hold any other country.” 

“Where it has often crossed the line is when groups try to argue that Israel is an inherently illegal state and doesn’t have a right to exist as a Jewish state here and takes actions to delegitimize those fundamental rights,” he said.

“Normally we think of that as the denial of rights to a person that are given to other similarly situated people, or the imposition of obligations on a person not applied to other people. We normally think of that as racism. And this, in the minds of many, feels that when it steps over that line, that it constitutes anti-Semitic activity and not just anti-legitimate discourse about Israel’s policies.”

According to the report, last year France experienced a 101-percent increase in anti-Semitic acts, including “numerous cases of physical violence against the Jewish community where individuals were targeted and beaten and synagogues were fire bombed.”

This led to an upswing in emigration, with 7,231 people making aliya, up from 3,293 in 2013. Read more.

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