Czech Jewish cemetery desecrated

ADL poll shows Anti-Semitism up; 43% say Jews talk too much about Holocaust.

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July 17, 2007 15:03
4 minute read.
Czech Jewish cemetery desecrated

swastika graves 88. (photo credit: )

A Jewish cemetery has been desecrated in a northeastern Czech town, an official said Tuesday. Jirina Garajova, head of the Jewish community in Ostrava, 350 kilometers east of Prague, said that 25 tombstones were overturned at the Jewish cemetery in the nearby town of Bohumin over the weekend. Two of the tombstones were broken, she said. The cemetery, dating back to the 19th century, is no longer used for burials and opened to public on July 1 after renovations. Some 400 Jews lived in Bohumin before the World War II. Only 11 survived the Holocaust. Meanwhile, a survey conducted b the Anti-Defamation League in Austria, Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom found that the most common anti-Semitic perception of Diaspora Jews is that they are more loyal to Israel than to the countries in which they live. "The most troubling finding is the issue of loyalty to Israel," ADL director Abe Foxman told a news conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday. The loyalty issue, such a tragic part of Jewish history in the Diaspora, shows no sign of abating. "It is growing constantly in Europe and the United States," said Foxman, who noted that one in every three people in the US and one in every two people in Europe believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home countries. Jews are also perceived as having too much power in the business world and in international financial markets. An average of 34.5 percent across the six countries agreed that Jews have too much financial and business clout, compared to 26.7% two years ago. In Hungary, 60% of respondents said it is "probably true" that Jews have too much power in the business realm; 11% held the same view in the Netherlands. In addition, 43% of the 3,000 adults who were questioned - 500 in each country - believed that Jews talk too much about the Holocaust. These findings show a general increase in negative attitudes toward Jews compared to a similar ADL poll taken in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland in 2005. According to the latest survey, an overall 49.7% of respondents said it is "probably true" that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home countries, compared to an average of 38.2% in 2005. A breakdown of the results showed that view was most widely held in Austria and Belgium, where 54% of those polled agreed, compared to Switzerland's 44%. The question of loyalty has haunted Jews for centuries, said Foxman, who noted that the Dreyfus trial "stimulated an orgy of anti-Semitism" in France, and that Hitler began his anti-Semitic tirades against the Jewish people not on the matter of Aryan supremacy, but on loyalty. Likewise, in the Soviet Union, Stalin charged that the Jews were not loyal Communists and were too cosmopolitan in their outlook. Foxman described the pervasiveness of the loyalty issue as "a most frightening and dangerous development, because it is a precursor for other issues." He found it most disturbing that it had become a legitimate topic of discussion in the media and on college campuses. There is also a widespread belief that Jews control American foreign policy and that they influence the decision-making process. "What we find in the US and Europe is that 50 percent of people believe that American Jews control American foreign policy. The fact that this is so prevalent in Europe is very troubling," Foxman said. The ADL has yet to discover the nexus between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism or anti-Israelism. While more than 50% of people polled said that their attitudes toward Jews were influenced by Israel's actions, which legitimized and strengthened their anti-Semitism, Foxman conceded that the linkage was not cut and dried. Criticism of Israel does not necessarily make one an anti-Semite, he said. Criticism is legitimate, he declared, adding that some people are anti-Israel but not anti-Semites, and some people don't like Jews but are very pro-Israel. A case in point was US President Richard Nixon, who was known to dislike Jews, but who was very pro-Israel. Foxman pointed out that anti-Jewish sentiment was highest just before Jewish holiday periods because the media tended to focus on Jewish ritual and customs. Of the six countries surveyed, Hungary showed the most virulent anti-Semitism. This could be because Jews and Jewish institutions have become much more visible in Hungary in recent years than under Communist rule. "Where there are more Jews, there is more anti-Semitism," said Foxman, who noted that violent acts against Jews have increased all over Europe. The good news, he said, is that European governments are no longer denying that anti-Semitism exists in their countries. In the early years of the 21st century, there was constant denial. "Now there's an end to denial," he said. "That's important, because when you deny, you don't do anything about it." Although European governments are now admitting to anti-Semitism, Foxman said, "they are woefully inept in measuring and prosecuting hate crimes." Among the other topics addressed in the ADL survey were Iran, the Second Lebanon War and the British academic boycott. While 68% of respondents believed that Iran was building a nuclear bomb, only 51% believed preventive action should be taken to stop them from building it. Regarding Lebanon, the majority of respondents identified Hizbullah as a terrorist organization, but more than half believed that Israel did not have the right to use military force against the group. The survey, conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres between May 29 and Jun 18, 2007, had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points. To get a breakdown of anti-Semitic attitudes in different countries, log on to www.adl.org. AP contributed to this report.


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