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Bennett: No ties between Israeli actions and rise of anti-Semitism
By SAM SOKOL
01/26/2014
Report indicates 1/4 of European Jews refrain from wearing clothes, symbols that identify them as Jews for fear of anti-Semites.
 
There is no correlation between Israel’s actions and the rise of anti-Semitism, Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett said over the weekend.

“Anti-Semitism [has been] gaining momentum at a regular pace over the past few years and has no connection with regional developments or our policies,” Bennett asserted.

“Like the efforts to delegitimize Israel, anti-Semitism is both a disgrace and a blot on every society. Trying to understand their ‘causes’ legitimizes them. There is no reason or justification for anti-Semitism.”

Bennett is scheduled to present a report on anti-Semitism to the cabinet on Sunday that will include a European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights’ poll indicating that a quarter of European Jews refrain from visiting sites or wearing clothing and symbols that identify them as Jews, for fear of anti-Semites.

Almost a third of European Jews are mulling emigration as a response to heightened anti-Jewish sentiment, according to the agency.

“Despite what people might think, anti-Semitism does not strengthen our ties with Jews overseas,” Bennett said in a statement on Saturday evening. “For every Jew who makes aliya as a result of anti-Semitism, there are many others who cut ties with Judaism and the Jewish way of life.”

Pointing fingers at both the extreme Right and Left, Bennett said that anti-Semitism came in different flavors. The Right’s attacks stem from ultra-nationalism, he explained, while left-wing anti-Semitism takes the form of attacks on Jewish traditions such as ritual slaughter and circumcision due to human and animal rights concerns.

Bennett’s report will recommend “increased diplomatic efforts, in conjunction with the local Jewish communities, both publicly and behind the scenes,” the Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry said.

“Efforts to increase personal and community security must also be bolstered through the various funds and resources dealing with the matter.”

In November, Bennett told Jewish leaders from around the world that Israel “typically view[s] the world as a source of aliya and a big fat wallet, and that’s got to change,” heralding what some have called a dramatic restructuring of Israel- Diaspora relations.

Bennett’s remarks came as the government is launching a $1 billion initiative aimed at bolstering Jewish communities hard hit by assimilation, intermarriage and anti-Semitism.

JTA contributed to this report.
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