France is the “most dangerous country for Jews today,” the Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry asserted Sunday, as Minister Naftali Bennett presented the cabinet with a report on anti-Semitic trends over the past year.
According to the report, which was compiled in collaboration with The Coordination Forum for Countering anti-Semitism and presented ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Tuesday, Muslim extremists are the “main instigators of global anti-Semitism.”
“We continue to see deterioration around the world. The old anti-Semitism, spouting the familiar stereotype of a global Jewish conspiracy, is being increasingly coupled with the campaign to delegitimize Israel,“ Bennett said in a statement.
“It is radical Islam which is acting as the bridge for these two racist beliefs. They’ll use any perverted excuse to further their goal, which is the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people,” he said.
The extreme Left, the report asserted, sometimes makes common cause with Islamic extremists.
In the surge in anti-Semitism during Israel’s Gaza incursion last summer, when incidents rose by 400 percent, the primary perpetrators were Muslims, the report stated. The use of Israel’s actions as a catalyst and excuse for violence reveals a blurring of the boundaries between anti-Zionism and classical anti-Semitism, reinforcing “the importance of Israel as the spearhead of the Jewish people in the fight against anti-Semitism,” the report asserted.
Delegitimization of Israel served as a “major threat” against Jewish communities abroad, and while the increasing influence of the far Right of Europe was cited as a threat, the report reiterated its conclusion that the most violent cases were attributable to Arabs or Muslims.
Criticism of Israel’s conduct during Operation Protective Edge served as a “smokescreen” for anti-Semitism that did not distinguish between Jews and Israelis, with calls for protest against Israel turning into anti-Jewish rhetoric, as seen in demonstrations across Europe this summer.
Such demonstrations, the report recalled, sometimes featured rhetoric such as “slit the throats of the Jews” and, at times, led to violence against targets such as synagogues and Jewish-owned stores.
“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 said last year, when presenting a previous report on anti-Semitism.
While there has been a general trend of increasing support for the far Right, such ultra-nationalist factions in Western Europe, have, for the most part, worked to shed their anti-Semitic images while remaining anti-Muslim.
Greece’s Golden Dawn was an exception in Western Europe. Most extreme anti-Semitic parties operated in the former Soviet bloc.
The report cited Hungary’s neo-Nazi Jobbik party as an example of an outspoken anti-Semitic faction with high levels of support.
In April, Jobbik garnered onefifth of ballots cast in parliamentary elections. Following the party’s electoral gains, Israeli anti-Semitism researcher Dr. Robert Wistrich went so far as to prognosticate that “the Jews in Europe do not have a future.”
The report specifically singled out France, which has seen a surge in anti-Semitic violence in recent years.
“Besides the slaughter of four Jews at the kosher supermarket earlier this month, the number of anti-Semitic incidents doubled in 2014 as compared to 2013,” according to the ministry.
“Last year, nearly 1,000 anti-Semitic incidents were reported, including assaults, many categorized as ‘extremely violent,’ as well as attacks on synagogues and other Jewish institutes.”
European leaders began discussing the issue of anti-Semitism in earnest following a shooting at the Brussels Jewish Museum in May that left four dead and this summer’s violent protests.
At the time, Eli Ringer, the immediate past president of Belgium’s Forum der Joodse Organisaties, demanded that “in the new Commission of Europe a commissioner should be appointed, handling the problem of racism and specifically on anti-Semitism.”
In December, the European Parliament declined to establish a task force to deal with the issue, despite what was perceived to be widespread support, eliciting harsh condemnations from Jews worldwide.
Earlier this month, the European Jewish Congress amplified Ringer’s call when, in the wake of the attack on a Paris kosher supermarket, it demanded of EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to establish a continental body to combat anti-Semitism and to appoint a special EU envoy to deal with the issue.
Stating that European Jewry had warned of an escalation of violence following the 2012 massacre at a Jewish school in Toulouse and last year’s Brussels shooting attack, EJC president Moshe Kantor said that it is “incumbent on the European Union to urgently place combating anti-Semitism as one of its highest priorities, because this is a hatred that transcends borders and cannot be dealt with by any single nation on its own.”
Last year, the Anti-Defamation League released a poll claiming that 26 percent of respondents are “deeply infected” with anti-Semitic attitudes, while only a little more than half of those polled have heard of the Holocaust.
Two-thirds of those asked stated that they have either not heard of the Nazi genocide or do not believe that accepted historical accounts are correct.