Today the State Department released its new report on Anti-Semitism. After spending much of the early evening reading the 90+ page document I can say its pretty impressive. The overall theme of the document is that Anti-Semitism is very much on the rise..and in many cases, anti-Zionism is just a way to excuse anti-Semitism. While the traditional Jew hatred is around, over the past decade, hatred of Jews has morphed and adapted to “keep up with the times.
What is Anti-Semitism? The European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) working definition provides a useful framework for identifying and understanding the problem and is adopted for the purposes of this report: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” Because the working definition is broad, the EUMC provides explanatory text that discusses the kinds of acts that could be considered anti-Semitic: “Such manifestations [of anti-Semitism] could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. Anti-Semitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for ‘why things go wrong.’ It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits. Contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
- Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
- Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective—such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
- Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
- Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g., gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
- Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
- Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
- Examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:
- Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination
- Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
- Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
- Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel
The EUMC makes clear, however, that criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded in itself as anti-Semitic Contemporary Forms of Anti-Semitism Contemporary anti-Semitism manifests itself in overt and subtle ways, both in places where sizeable Jewish communities are located and where few Jews live. Anti-Semitic crimes range from acts of violence, including terrorist attacks against Jews, to the desecration and destruction of Jewish property such as synagogues and cemeteries. Anti-Semitic rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and other propaganda circulate widely and rapidly by satellite television, radio, and the Internet.
Classic anti-Semitic screeds, such as The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf, remain commonplace. Jews continue to be accused of blood libel, dual loyalty, and undue influence on government policy and the media, and the symbols and images associated with age-old forms of anti-Semitism endure. These blatant forms of anti-Semitism, often linked with Nazism and fascism, are considered unacceptable by the mainstream in the democratic nations of Western Europe, North America, and beyond, but they are embraced and employed by the extreme fringe.
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…….The distinguishing feature of the new anti-Semitism is criticism of Zionism or Israeli policy that—whether intentionally or unintentionally—has the effect of promoting prejudice against all Jews by demonizing Israel and Israelis and attributing Israel’s perceived faults to its Jewish character.
This new anti-Semitism is common throughout the Middle East and in Muslim communities in Europe, but it is not confined to these populations. For example, various United Nations bodies are asked each year on multiple occasions to commission investigations of what often are sensationalized reports of alleged atrocities and other violations of human rights by Israel. Various bodies have been set up within the UN system with the sole purpose of reporting on what is assumed to be ongoing, abusive Israeli behavior. The motive for such actions may be to defuse an immediate crisis, to show others in the Middle East that there are credible means of addressing their concerns other than resorting to violence, or to pursue other legitimate ends. But the collective effect of unremitting criticism of Israel, coupled with a failure to pay attention to regimes that are demonstrably guilty of grave violations, has the effect of reinforcing the notion that the Jewish state is one of the sources, if not the greatest source, of abuse of the rights of others, and thus intentionally or not encourages anti-Semitism.
Israel as a “Nazi State”Comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is increasingly commonplace. Anti-Semitism couched as criticism of Zionism or Israel often escapes condemnation since it can be more subtle than traditional forms of anti-Semitism, and promoting anti-Semitic attitudes may not be the conscious intent of the purveyor. Israel’s policies and practices must be subject to responsible criticism and scrutiny to the same degree as those of any other country. At the same time, those criticizing Israel have a responsibility to consider the effect their actions may have in prompting hatred of Jews. At times hostility toward Israel has translated into physical violence directed at Jews in general. There was, for example, a sharp upsurge in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide during the conflict between Hizballah and Israel in the summer of 2006
State Sponsored Hatred
Governments are increasingly recognized as having a responsibility to work against societal anti-Semitism. But instead of taking action to fight the fires of anti-Semitism, some irresponsible leaders and governments fan the flames of anti-Semitic hatred within their own societies and even beyond their borders. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has actively promoted Holocaust denial, Iran’s Jewish population faces official discrimination, and the official media outlets regularly produce anti-Semitic propaganda. The Syrian government routinely demonizes Jews through public statements and official propaganda. In Belarus, state enterprises freely produce and distribute anti-Semitic material. And in Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez has publicly demonized Israel and utilized stereotypes about Jewish financial influence and control, while Venezuela’s government-sponsored mass media have become vehicles for anti-Semitic discourse, as have government news media in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Elsewhere, despite official condemnation and efforts to combat the problem, societal anti-Semitism continues to exist. In Poland, the conservative Catholic radio station Radio Maryja is one of Europe’s most blatantly anti-Semitic media venues. The Interregional Academy of Personnel Management, a private institution in Ukraine commonly known by the acronym MAUP, is one of the most persistent anti-Semitic institutions in Eastern Europe. In Russia and other countries where xenophobia is widespread, such as some in Central and Eastern Europe, traditional anti-Semitism remains a problem. In France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere, anti-Semitic violence remains a significant concern. Recent increases in anti-Semitic incidents have been documented in Argentina, Australia, Canada, South Africa, and beyond.
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