Kerry and Zarif shake hands in Geneva 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
The elevation of Pope Francis, US-Iranian nuclear negotiations and Obama’s
two-state push are all among the most pressing issues facing world Jewry in
2013, according to a ‘top 10’ list published by the Anti-Defamation League on
The top issues affecting Jews this year, the ADL – an
anti-Semitism watchdog and civil rights organization – believes, are the
US-Iranian nuclear negotiations, Obama’s visit to Israel and call for a twostate
solution, advances for gay marriage in the United States, the rise of the far
Right in Europe and a general rise in anti-Semitism globally, the choice of
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to lead the Catholic Church, the Syrian civil war,
anti-Semitism online, renewed American efforts to broker a Middle East peace
deal, campus anti-Israel activity and a decline in US
Regarding Iran, whose nuclear deal is widely seen as a
threat to Israel, ADL national director Abe Foxman said it is an “open question
if Iran is truly serious about conceding its nuclear weapons program and
arriving at a comprehensive final agreement.”
The ADL cited the Obama
administration’s involvement in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the
president’s push for a two-state solution during his 2013 visit as significant
for the Jewish people, as well as citing the possible negative ramifications of
the Syrian civil war and its resultant refugee crisis for Israeli
The ADL has been highly outspoken on the issue of gay rights
and indicated in a release accompanying the new list that it believes that the
defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is highly significant for the
“While the court analyzed the case as a discrimination
case, Jewish and other religious organizations also made the argument that the
Defense of Marriage Act reflected an effort by its supporters to inappropriately
enshrine their religious understanding of marriage into civil law,” the ADL
The ADL cited the rise of the far Right in several European
countries as part of what the watchdog termed an increase in global
anti-Semitism as a “serious concern” for the Jewish community.
such as Jobbik in Hungary, Svoboda in the Ukraine and Golden Dawn in Greece have
gained significant electoral advances in recent elections, prompting calls by
the World Jewish Congress for a blanket ban on “neo-Nazi parties” in
Ataka in Bulgaria is the latest party to gain political traction
and is parlaying anger at increased Syrian migration into popular
“Jewish communities around the world, and particularly those in
Eastern and Western Europe and South America, witnessed a rise in serious
anti-Jewish assaults, vandalism and harassment,” the ADL stated.
in particular has been a center of concern due to attacks by Muslim immigrants
against Jewish targets. Jews and Jewish institutions have also come under attack
in Argentina, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine,
Venezuela and the United Kingdom, the ADL said.
A January ban on kosher
slaughter in Poland struck “a blow to the future of Jews living in Poland” and
may have been motivated by anti-Semitism, the ADL claimed.
The ADL did
not mention a recent decision by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe to recommend banning ritual circumcision, nor efforts to ban the practice
in Norway, Sweden and the United States.
The list also omitted the rapid
rise in intermarriage cited by a November Pew Research Center report which has
since become a primary topic of conversation among those in the American Jewish
establishment. High intermarriage is also a reality of Jewish life throughout
Europe and the former Soviet Union.
The ADL report was not all negative
and contained praise for Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, who was recently
installed as Pope Francis.
“We were very much encouraged by the election
of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina as the new Pope Francis, a true friend
of the Jewish community who has expressed a strong desire to foster
Catholic-Jewish relations,” Foxman said.
Anti-Semitism has also declined
in the United States, the ADL list stated. According to the organization’s 2013
survey of the American people, anti-Semitism has declined three percent since
2011 and 29% from 1964.
“Nevertheless, concerns about the lasting power
of anti-Semitism persisted,” the ADL averred.