ADL presents ‘Top Ten’ Jewish issues of 2013

Topping the list, unsurprisingly, are US-Iranian nuclear negotiations and the rise of European anti-Semitism; list omits key findings of Pew report.

Kerry and Zarif shake hands in Geneva 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
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 Thursday.
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 anti-Semitism.
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 security.
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 Jewish community.
“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 asserted.
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.
Parties 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 Europe.
Ataka in Bulgaria is the latest party to gain political traction and is parlaying anger at increased Syrian migration into popular support.
“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.
France 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.