BERLIN – The Simon Wiesenthal Center has ranked the 10 worst outbreaks of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in 2014. Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the human rights organization, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that this year’s list seeks to show how anti-Semitic “rhetoric at the top has filtered down to average people.”
Hier said the center deliberately chose not to include principal Arab leaders and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan because the ranking system reveals the spread of hate on a grassroots level.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center’s associate dean, told the Post
that Europe dominated the list of incidents of Israel hatred and anti-Semitic violence, with six mentions.
The No. 1 slot went to a doctor in Belgium who refused to provide medical care to a 90-year-old Jewish woman with a fractured rib. He told her son, who had requested the care: “Send her to Gaza for a few hours, then she will get rid of the pain. I’m not coming,” and hung up.
Hershy Taffel, Bertha Klein’s grandson, filed a formal discrimination complaint with the authorities, according to the paper Joods Actueel
“It reminds me of what happened in Europe 70 years ago,” Taffel said. “I never thought those days would be repeated.”
Parts of Jordan’s government and the Palestinian Fatah party in Israel’s disputed territories garnered the second spot. After Palestinian terrorists murdered four rabbis in the Kehilat Bnai Torah synagogue in west Jerusalem, Jordanian MPs organized a moment of silence for the terrorists and read Koran verses aloud, stating their purpose was to “glorify their pure souls and the souls of all the martyrs in the Arab and Muslim nations.”
The Wiesenthal Center’s list noted that Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour sent a condolence letter to the families of the terrorists, writing, “I ask God to envelope them with mercy and to grant you patience, comfort and recovery from your grief…” In response to Palestinian acts of vehicular terrorism, which included the death of a baby at a Jerusalem light rail stop, and the murder of three Israeli teenagers kidnapped from a bus stop, Fatah depicted the boys as rats in a cartoon on its official website.
The brutal assault on a Jewish couple, including the rape of a woman, in an apartment on the outskirts of Paris, resulted in ranking No. 3.
Assailants tied up the couple and demanded, “Tell us where you hide the money. You Jews always have money.”
MPs from the radical anti-Israel wing of Germany’s Left Party secured the No. 4 spot. Annette Groth, Inge Höger, Claudia Haydt and Heike Hänsel fomented hatred of the Jewish state during a talk in the Bundestag. Höger and Groth invited two obscure anti-Israel extremists, Max Blumenthal and David Sheen, to deliver talks against Israel.
According to the center, “On November 10, the Left Party invited notorious Israel-bashers… in the party’s meeting room in the Bundestag, the day after commemoration of the anniversary of Kristallnacht – the 1938 pogrom when the Nazis burned Jewish synagogues across Germany. Blumenthal often casts Zionism as racism and conflates alleged Israeli misdeeds with Nazi imagery.”
The center wrote, “That was too much for top party leader Gregor Gysi, who canceled the usage of the party’s meeting room. The incident came to be known as ‘Toiletgate,’ because Gysi was forced to barricade himself in a bathroom to escape the wrath of Blumenthal and Sheen.
“It highlighted the ongoing efforts to demonize Israel by a group of extreme anti-Israel MPs, led by Inge Höger and Annette Groth. Both of these parliamentarians were onboard the controversial 2010 Mavi Marmara
Gaza flotilla and upon their return to Berlin, were hailed by many of their party’s MPs.”
In response to the Toiletgate scandal, a petition signed by reform Left Party MPs, local politicians and members directed at but not limited to Haydt, Hänsel, Höger and Groth, states: “By stoking obsessive hatred of and demonizing Israel, members of our party in positions of responsibility are promoting anti-Semitic patterns of argument and a relativization of the Holocaust and the German responsibility for the extermination of millions of European Jews.”
The fifth ranking went to Turkish columnist Faruk Köse, who in his column in Yeni Akit
, a newspaper with closes ties to President Erdogan’s government, wrote that Turkish Jews should pay a special tax for damages during Operation Protective Edge this past summer.
Köse also sought to convince Erdogan that the Jewish community should apologize for Israel’s self-defense measures during the operation.
“You came here after being banished from Spain. You have lived comfortably among us for 500 years and gotten rich at our expense. Is this your gratitude – killing Muslims? Erdogan, demand that the community leader apologize. “So of course one feels like saying, ‘God bless that Hitler!’”
The spread of right-wing anti-Semitism by Björn Söder, a Sweden Democrats Party politician, resulted in a sixth-place ranking. He said in an interview, “Most [people] of Jewish origin who have become Swedes leave their Jewish identity,” and that it is important to distinguish between “citizenship and nationhood.”
The Wiesenthal Center blasted Sweden’s government for failing to combat Jew hatred, saying, “Swedish Jews have been targets of hate crimes from Muslim extremists, but authorities have rarely, if ever, taken action against the perpetrators.”
The neo-fascist Mayor Mihaly Zoltan Orosz of Erpatek in eastern Hungary garnered the seventh slot, for his hanging of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former president Shimon Peres in effigy at a public display in early August. According to the Wiesenthal entry, he told reporters “the Jewish terror state” was trying to annihilate the Palestinians, and he opposed “the efforts of Freemasons to rule the world.”
The sign hanging above the “body” of Peres reads: “I am a war criminal, bastard genocider, that’s why I get my rightful punishment, death by hanging! I am going to my master, to Satan, because hellfire awaits me! – Simón Peresz.”
The eighth spot listed two examples of “spreading hate in academia.” The United Auto Workers #2865 union, which represents graduate students in California, promoted a successful boycott to demonize the Jewish state.
Steven Salaita, an Arab-American professor, called “for the destruction of Israel.” On social media, he wrote, “At this point, if Netanyahu appeared with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised?” Salaita also said of American Jewry: “Every little Jewish boy and girl can grow up to be the leader of a murderous colonial regime.”
Frazier Glenn Cross Jr. a former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon, earned No. 9 on the list. He drove to a Jewish community center and the Jewish Home for the Aging in suburban Kansas City, Kansas, prior to the Passover holiday and shot three people. He told a journalist that he “wanted to make damned sure I killed some Jews... before I died.”
The three victims were non-Jews.
The final ranking captured the outbreak of Jew hatred in the United Kingdom. A sporting goods store in Hertfordshire, England was cited, where a security guard barred Jewish students from entering, saying “No Jews, no Jews.”
Dave Whelan, owner of the Wigan Athletic football team, told reporters, ‘I think Jewish people do chase money more than everybody else.”
Rabbi Cooper told the Post
that the center aimed to present “the global nature of all strata of society of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic stuff.” He said the list was not supposed to be a purely scientific instrument, but to capture broad trends across the world to demonize Jews and Israel.
In several countries, up to a third of Jewish residents are mulling emigration, according to a 2013 study by the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights. Anti-Semitic chants and physical violence against Jews during European protests against Israel’s Gaza offensive this summer brought widespread condemnations by leading politicians there and made life feel very precarious for those affected.
At the time, European leaders issued strong statements against the rise of anti-Semitism in their countries, with the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Italy harshly condemning pro-Palestinian demonstrators, vowing to make use of “all legal measures” to maintain public order over the summer.
In a joint statement from Brussels this summer, Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier, France’s Laurent Fabius and Italy’s Federica Mogherini denounced “the ugly anti-Semitic statements, demonstrations and attacks of the last few days,” declaring that “nothing, including the dramatic military confrontation in Gaza, justifies such actions in Europe.”
Recent developments in Europe, including a court decision to remove Hamas from the EU’s list of terrorist organizations and the failure of the European Parliament to establish a working group on anti-Semitism, have weakened faith among some Jews in the continental association’s ability to combat anti-Semitism.
The Wiesenthal list quoted Danny Cohen, director of BBC television, as capturing the feelings of many: “I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as I’ve felt in the last 12 months. And it’s made me think about, you know, is it our long-term home, actually? Because you feel it; I’ve felt it in a way I’ve never felt before, actually.”