Bennett: Rising antisemitism due to far right, refugees, social media

The Diaspora Affairs Ministry released its annual report on antisemitism on Sunday, highlighting the major facets of society from which the trend stems.

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January 21, 2018 11:00
4 minute read.
Anti-semitism

Anti-semitism. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett has named the rise of the far Right in various countries, the refugee crisis and the Internet as major factors spurring an increase of antisemitic incidents around the world, as he presented the annual antisemitism report to the government on Sunday.

In his opening comments, Bennett noted that while the number of violent antisemitic incidents recorded around the world decreased, the number of general antisemitic incidents had increased.

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“Antisemitism is the dangerous fuel feeding our enemies for generations,” he said. “We must ensure every Jew in the world can live a safe and proud life.”

“Also in 2017, we saw a strong antisemitic presence online,” Bennett said. “Much of this discourse was related to the changes in governments around the world, the refugee crisis and the visibility of antisemitism in social media. We must act with all available tools against current antisemitism to ensure the security of the Jewish People, in Israel and the Diaspora.”

Presenting the report ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which will be marked on January 27, the ministry highlighted the record number of antisemitic incidents recorded in the UK in the first half of 2017 – there was a 78% increase in physical attacks and a 30% increase in the number of overall antisemitic incidents.

The ministry also flagged the rise of the far Right in Germany and the influx of refugees to the country as factors that have negatively impacted the Jewish population. A study released in December by the American Jewish Committee’s Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations in Berlin found that antisemitism among Muslim refugees is rampant and requires urgent attention. A new edition of Adolf Hitler’s antisemitic manifesto Mein Kampf also became a bestseller in German bookstores in 2017, the report noted.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, who attended the cabinet meeting, addressed the link between the far Right and antisemitism, noting that 15 years ago he proposed a method to distinguish antisemitism from legitimate criticism of Israel among the left, but today extremists from both sides of the political spectrum must be addressed.



“Today we are witnessing a new and alarming phenomenon: The rise and emboldenment of right-wing political parties in Europe that profess support for Israel while supporting such antisemitic measures as outlawing circumcision and kosher slaughter, as well as historical revisionism of the Second World War and the rehabilitation of Nazi soldiers,” he said. “On the one hand, they proclaim that they stand with Israel, while on the other hand, they target and harm Jews. We see this in Austria, for example, where the local Jewish community has announced that it will boycott the official Holocaust commemoration ceremony in Vienna if ministers from the far-right Freedom Party attend the event. I have counted at least seven such political parties across Europe.”

“We do not need and should not court such double-faced support, on either the right or the left,” Sharanksy said. “We must remain vigilant and not permit antisemitism to go without opposition and protest under the cover of convenient diplomatic stances or intercommunal bridge-building. I note both phenomena with alarm and demand that we do not play into the hands of antisemites, regardless of their political affiliations.”

The rise of the far right in the US was also flagged in the report, and specifically the violent “Unite the Right” rally, which was held in Charlottesville in August.

The report also noted that the “continued increase of hate discourse among radical left-wing movements, which is mainly felt on college campuses.”

The picture in general in the US, is cause for concern. The Anti-Defamation League’s annual report on antisemitism released in November found that there was a 67% increase in antisemitic incidents across the US from January 1 to September 30, 2017, in comparison with the same period in 2016.

According to the FBI’s 2016 Hate Crime Statistics report, Jews, African Americans and Muslims are targeted more often than any other religious or ethnic group in the United States. The report found that more than half of the racially-motivated incidents in 2016, 54.2%, targeted Jews.

“This figure is especially prominent in light of the low percentage of Jews in the US population,” the Diaspora Affairs Ministry’s report said. It also noted that the statistic was high when compared with attacks against other minorities: A quarter of the targets reported were Muslim, 4.1% were Catholic, 1.9% Eastern Orthodox and 0.5 Mormons.

Troubling statistics also emerged from Ukraine, with double the number of antisemitic incidents being recorded in comparison with the previous year, according to the report.

This included dozens of acts of vandalism against memorials, museums and synagogues.

Additional findings highlighted by the ministry were extracted from a PEW survey conducted in 18 Central and Eastern European countries and published in May 2017. The ministry emphasized that the survey had found that 20% of citizens of those countries aren’t willing to accepting Jews as fellow citizens and 26% wouldn’t want Jews as neighbors. Only 42% would be willing to accept Jews as family. The attitudes expressed toward Muslims and Roma’s, were more negative.

About 57% of respondents said they would be willing to accept Roma’s as fellow citizens, 37% would be willing to accept them as neighbors and only 19% as family members.

Meanwhile, 65% would accept Muslims as citizens, 55% would accept them as neighbors and 27% as family.

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