Anti-Semitism on the rise due to war

Attackers tried to set fire to a Jewish youth movement center in Sydney; Jewish shops across Rome were vandalized and defaced with swastikas.

More than half of the Israeli public thinks that world opinion is turning against Israel in its war in Lebanon because of anti-Semitism, according to a new poll. Some 55 percent gave anti-Semitism as the chief motive for increasing international protest against Israel's actions, while 37% attributed the shift to humanitarian reasons. The remaining 8% chalked it up to other causes or had no answer. When the group of 509 respondents was split among various demographic lines, the difference between ultra-Orthodox and secular individuals was most pronounced. Of the former, 85% chose anti-Semitism as the major motive, while only 44% of the latter concurred. The poll, which was conducted by Mutagim with a 4.5% standard of error, was commissioned by World Likud. Beyond public opinion, anti-Semitism in the Diaspora has been on the rise ever since Israel entered Lebanon. On Wednesday, Jewish shops across Rome were vandalized and defaced with swastikas in an apparent neo-fascist attack linked to fighting in the Middle East. Owners of about 20 shops in the center and outskirts of the city reached their workplace Tuesday morning to find door locks filled with glue, shutters nailed closed and swastikas defacing nearby walls, said Riccardo Pacifici, a spokesman for Rome's Jewish community. Although not all the shops targeted were owned by Jews, the raid was apparently conducted in reaction to hostilities between Israel and Hizbullah, Pacifici said. Flyers signed by a group calling itself Armed Revolutionary Fascists were left at the shops denouncing "the Zionist economy" and including pro-Hizbullah slogans, he said. The Community Security Trust estimated earlier in the week that British Jews had seen a 25% rise in anti-Semitic acts in the past month. After a thorough review, however, it found that the number of incidents had doubled this July as compared to July 2005. The majority of cases consisted of hateful or intimidating e-mails, phone calls and graffiti - much of it pro-Hizbullah - near Jewish institutions, according to the CST. "It's primarily anti-Israel in nature," CST spokesman Mark Gardner said. "But it's targeted against any Jew, which is why we are defining it as anti-Semitic." He added that British Jews "are very security-conscious at the moment, but that shouldn't stop them from living their lives as Jews." In Australia this week, Sydney experienced its second anti-Semitic attack in four days. New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said attackers had tried and failed to set fire to a Jewish youth movement center, which sits next to a synagogue. Investigations had shown the assailants had doused wooden blocks inside the building, which was vacant, with petrol and tried to set them on fire. Alhadeff said the incident was clearly linked to tensions in the Middle East. "Whenever there is a rise in tensions in the Middle East, there is a clear increase in the number of anti-Semitic attacks in Australia," he said. On Sunday, projectiles were hurled at a different synagogue. Area police have responded by stepping up patrols outside Jewish and Islamic sites. The Associated Press contributed to this report.