Hirchson: Anti-Semitism is a problem for the world

He noted that the burning of synagogues and the defacing of gravestones was still a problem in many countries.

"Anti-semitism is a world problem, not a Jewish problem, and the government of Israel will fight against it," declared Tourism and Communications Minister Avraham Hirchson during a press conference hosted by the Global Forum Against Anti-Semitism (GFAA) at Beit Agron in Jerusalem on Thursday. Speaking after a cabinet meeting during which the GFAA had presented statistics highlighting an overall decrease in the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks worldwide, Hirchson emphasized that in certain specific cases "the world had still not learned its lesson." He noted that the burning of synagogues and the defacing of gravestones was still a problem in many countries, while in Russia and Ukraine the number of overall incidents had actually increased dramatically. "Governments must take more responsibility for controlling anti-Semitism, while a change in the education system is required both for Jews and non-Jews," he added. Amos Hermon, chairman of the Jewish Agency's Education Department, asserted that present day violent anti-Semitism originates from two separate sources: radical Islamists in the Middle East and Western Europe as well as the neo-Nazi youth element in Eastern Europe and Latin America. In presenting the reports' specific findings, Hermon noted that though the number of overall anti-Semitic incidents recorded in Britain - which was at the top of this inauspicious list - had decreased from 330 in 2004 to 300 in 2005, this still represented the highest number of incidents in that country for more than 20 years. Hermon also alluded to Britain's proposed academic boycott of Israeli universities and London Mayor Ken Livingstone's negative attitude towards Israel as examples of left-wing anti-Semitic tendencies in that country. The report also showed that France, Russia and Ukraine had all chalked up more than 160 incidents, while in Argentina, Germany, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Australia, there were less than 50 each. Though the GFAA is still waiting for statistics from the US, Hermon noted that North America was by no means free of anti-Semitism, citing the recent capture of an al-Qaida cell by the FBI in Los Angeles just prior to a planned attack on local Jewish institutions. In American university campuses, he said, Jewish students were being discriminated against by both faculty and the students. Referring to the recent announcements of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "to wipe Israel off the map," the report also shows that the media in Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia are vehemently anti-Semitic. However it also claimed that despite incitement being widespread in the media of the Palestinian terror organizations, there has been a noticeable decline in this area in the PA's official media since Mahmoud Abbas came to power. Jewish Agency chairman Ze'ev Bielski told The Jerusalem Post that although it was "unlikely" that anti-Semitism would ever be completely eradicated, it was important to deal as best as possible with the cause rather than just the symptoms. He exhorted people "to stop being apathetic about this issue."