For many years, in an effort to take stock of where we are as a Jewish community in the United States, and in the time-honored tradition of end-of-year list-making, we at the Anti-Defamation League have compiled a Top 10 list of issues affecting the Jewish community.
It is an exercise that, if nothing else, gives us a unique perspective on the year that was, and on where we stand as a Jewish community and as participants in and citizens of the global village. It is an unscientific assessment, surely, and there are always issues that we are unable to include here, given that we have just 10 to choose from. Yet it provides an opportunity to look back as the year comes to a close on the major events that shaped the Jewish world and moved us to action.
Strikingly, when we looked over the year of 2012, it was immediately apparent that, unlike in previous years where the Jewish community in the U.S. was focused on primarily domestic issues, this year was a year with particular emphasis on events overseas. For us at ADL, and indeed for the entire Jewish community in America, which has long assumed responsibility for the well-being of Jews abroad, including in Israel, these are matters of great concern to us and are very relevant to our own organization.
So, without further ado, here’s the annual ADL list of Top 10 issues Affecting Jews in 2012:
· Anti-Semitism Resurgent in Europe· Iran Sanctions and Subterfuge· U.N. Vote to Upgrade “Palestine”· Gaza Rockets Met with Israeli Airstrikes· Campaign 2012 and Efforts to Woo the Jewish Vote· Rumor Jews Were Behind Anti-Muslim Film Goes Viral· Primary Presidential Candidates Mix Religion and Politics· 2012 Olympics Committee Fails to Recognize Munich 11· U.S. Jewish Community on Alert As Year Begins, Ends with Anti-Semitism· Deafening Silence in Face of Hamas Celebrations to "Destroy Israel"
As you can see, we do not number the list so as to not give undue priority to one issue over another. All of these were major news-making events, and each had an impact on Jews. But if there was one issue of concern that rose above all others in 2012 for the Jewish community, I believe it was the startling resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe.
The shocking terrorist attack on Jewish school children in France last march reinforced for Jews around the world that anti-Semitism is still a serious problem in France and indeed all of Europe. And this was hardly an isolated event.
Time and again, Jews were the targets of anti-Semitic incidents in communities in a number of European countries, and in three countries -- Greece, Hungary and Ukraine -- virulently racist and anti-Semitic political parties won seats in parliament in democratic elections. Meanwhile, our survey of attitudes toward Jews in 10 European countries revealed that anti-Semitic attitudes are still deeply ingrained on the continent.
In the United States, after a primary election where several of the presidential candidates attempted to inappropriately mix religion and politics, the presidential campaign made history as an African-American incumbent faced off against a Mormon.
Still, both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney sought to avoid discussions of race and religion and to focus on the pressing issues facing the country, and their religious and ethnic backgrounds became a less important part of the story.
Meanwhile, the Jewish vote was highly prized this election cycle, and both the Democratic and Republican campaigns made unprecedented efforts to reach out to Jewish voters.
In Israel, after months of indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli towns and cities, the Jewish state was forced to defend its citizens with airstrikes aimed at destroying the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. Before a cease-fire brought the hostilities to a temporary halt, Hamas terrorists had fired more than 1,400 rockets at Israel, including advanced Iranian-supplied weapons at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Much of the world remained silent as Hamas took to the streets to celebrate their supposed ''victory'' over Israel and the Hamas leadership vowed to destroy the Jewish state.
We are now working on helping the world take notice of this alarming ramping up of rhetoric from Hamas leaders, and the hypocrisy of not speaking out when terrorists call for Israel’s demise.
A fuller explanation of the issues and events highlighted in the Top 10 is available on the League’s Web site, and I welcome your thoughts and comments on the items highlighted in our annual list.