Anti-Semitic attacks up 6% in 2007

Report: Majority of incidents were in Europe where growing presence of immigrants is source of friction.

Antisemitism 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Antisemitism 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Last year saw a sharp increase in the number of serious attacks on Jews as Jews worldwide, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University. This trend accompanied a drop during 2007 in the number of "minor" anti-Semitic incidents involving "physical, verbal and visual violence." However, the nearly threefold increase in attacks involving weapons, arson, apparent intent to kill or the desecration of Jewish monuments and memorials, to 57, more than made up for the drop in "minor" incidents, raising the overall number of incidents by 6.6 percent from 2006. In all, the institute recorded 632 cases of anti-Semitic violence, both major and minor, in 2007, up from 593 in 2006. Much of the rise came in the 57 major attacks recorded in 2007. The rise in the severe violence against Jews "could be understood as part of the increase in the crime rate in general," the study authors write, but also note that "the vast majority of anti-Semitic incidents have been recorded in Western and Central Europe, where the growing presence of millions of immigrants, including 20 million Muslims, is a source of friction and unrest." "The decrease in the overall numbers in some countries might be the result of growing commitment of governmental, human rights and international bodies to curb anti-Semitism, especially the violent [kind], and of closer cooperation between Jewish communities and law enforcement bodies and the judiciary system," according to a summary of the study's findings released to the media. While "it is also possible that governments are motivated by the concern that violence might trigger further street violence that will be turned not only against Jews," the report adds, it singles out Russia and Ukraine for a distinct lack of governmental commitment to combating anti-Semitism. "It should be noted that most of the victims of violence and assault were identified as Jews by their attire and insignia, and took place mostly near Jewish institutions and synagogues," the report's authors note. The dual trend - a rise in major attacks and a drop in minor ones - is exemplified in the worldwide drop in attacks against Jewish institutions, from 94 to 62, accompanied by the equally dramatic rise in desecrations of monuments and cemeteries, from 91 to 141. These tendencies were particularly dramatic in France, Australia and Ukraine, the study found. The findings were similar for the United States, where the Anti-Defamation League recorded a 6% decrease in overall cases, including harassment, but a rise in anti-Jewish vandalism. In all, the American Jewish community experienced 93 recorded incidents of vandalism and 48 attacks on individuals. Russia defied the trends, maintaining similar levels of both types of anti-Semitic activity in 2007 compared to 2006. In Germany, Canada and the UK, the study found a rise in both types of activities. Overall violent incidents in Germany rose from 38 to 67, not including dozens of desecration attacks, and the country saw 10 major attacks where none were recorded in 2006. In the UK and Canada, overall violent attacks rose moderately, while major attacks rose from two to 15 in the UK and none to five in Canada. Overly harsh denunciations of Israel "and its Jewish supporters increasingly intertwine anti-Semitic terms, a phenomenon that is being gradually recognized by international bodies," the report noted.