Arab Spring sees rise in anti-Semitism

Ministry study finds that "anti-Semitic discourse and incitement have become more extreme and violent" since Arab Spring.

January 22, 2012 06:02
2 minute read.
Magen David set on fire in protest [illustrative].

Burning Jewish star anti semitism magen david 311. (photo credit: Umit Bektas/Reuters)

There has been an increase in anti-Semitism in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring, according to a report set for release on Sunday.

That is the finding of the study Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein is to submit to the government.

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“[While] the popular uprisings in the Arab world do not represent a general change in attitude towards Israel, Zionism and the Jews it seems the anti-Semitic discourse and incitement have become more extreme and violent,” the report, which was written by scholars at the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University, says.

“Charges of an international Jewish conspiracy have been a central motif in the anti-Semitic propaganda that has accompanied the Arab Spring uprisings. This motif has been emphasized in each of the countries especially by way of pointing a blaming finger towards Israel, Zionism and Jews conspiring against Arabs and Muslims.”

The paper provides a lengthy list of anecdotal evidence. In Libya, it points at rebel claims that the mother of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was Jewish as a way of defaming the slain dictator. In Syria, it cites insults made by the embattled government of Bashar Assad calling opposition forces “an army of donkeys in the service of the Mossad.” And in Egypt it says Muslim scholars have issued edicts forbidding believers to sign agreements with “monkeys,” referring to Jews.

The study, however, does not contain numerical data. Eran Sidis, a spokesman for Edelstein, said figures supporting the thesis of the report will be released by the Kantor Center in April.

Edelstein said the report was a sad reminder that anti-Semitism is still alive and well in 2012.

The Likud minister noted that the study was being released ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday.

He added that new media has provided a new platform where hatred of Jews can flourish.

“This year anti-Semitism has been expressed in unbridled attacks and violence towards Jews in the Diaspora and Israel,” Edelstein said. “The accessibility of cyberspace and the freedom it grants to those who would use it to propagate the unprecedented dissemination of anti-Semitism [is worrying].”

The report covered anti-Semitic events across the globe from Latin America to Australia. It cited several high-profile instances of offensive comments made by celebrities in the past year, including by British fashion designer John Galliano and Danish director Lars von Trier. Also, it said old-fashioned cases of anti-Semitism persisted in places such as Ukraine, where the annual Rosh Hashana pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in Uman drew biased coverage from local press.

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