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European report on anti-Semitism shelved due to “political” reasons

Israelinsider.com, Israel
Nov. 24, 2003
Ellis Shuman
web.israelinsider.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Monday November 24, 2003

A study on anti-Semitism in Europe was shelved because it concluded that Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups were behind many of the incidents it examined.

The European Union ‘s racism monitor decided not to publish a report on anti-Semitism because the study concluded that Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups were behind many of the incidents it examined, the Financial Times reported on Saturday. ”An ever stronger Muslim presence in Europe is certainly endangering the life of Jewish people,” Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in an interview published today.

News of the shelving of the anti-Semitism study comes just two weeks after a European Commission poll revealed that nearly 60% of European citizens believe that Israel is the greatest threat to world peace, more than Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan. Less than ten days ago, suicide bombers devastated two synagogues in Istanbul, killing 23 people including six members of the Jewish community. On the same Saturday, a Jewish school near Paris was firebombed.

According to the Financial Times, the Vienna-based European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) commissioned a report from the Centre for Research on Anti-Semitism at Berlin’s Technical University following a spate of anti-Semitic incidents in early 2002, but then decided in February not to publish its 112-page study, after clashing with its authors over their conclusions.

When the researchers submitted their conclusions last October, the center’s senior staff and management board “objected to their definition of anti-Semitism, which included some anti-Israel acts. The focus on Muslim and pro-Palestinian perpetrators, meanwhile, was judged inflammatory,” the paper said.

“There is a trend towards Muslim anti-Semitism, while on the left there is mobilization against Israel that is not always free of prejudice,” one person familiar with the report told the Financial Times. “Merely saying the perpetrators are French, Belgian or Dutch does no justice to the full picture.”

The Times reported that some EUMC board members had also attacked part of the analysis ascribing anti-Semitic motives to leftwing and anti-globalization groups. “The decision not to publish was a political decision,” the Times’s source said.

One deputy of the 18-member EUMC, who declined to be named, confirmed the directors had seen the study as biased.

In response to the report that the study had been shelved due to its conclusions, Minister without portfolio Natan Sharansky said, “The attempts by pro-Palestinian bodies to turn the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a war between Islam and Judaism is endangering not only the Jewish People, but all of western civilization.

“The same factors that decided to shelve the report not only are hiding their heads in the sand and ignoring the time bomb ticking in the heart of Europe, but are also actively allowing the continuation of incitement and anti-Semitic terrorism,” Sharansky said.

Officials in Jerusalem said that if the report of the study’s shelving was correct, they wouldn’t be surprised, Maariv reported. “It is clear that the European Union is pro-Palestinian and therefore it’s not surprising that senior EU officials decided to shelve this report,” one official said.

Shalom, Sharon seek Europe’s support

Last week, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom proposed forming a joint ministerial council with the European Union to fight anti-Semitism in Europe. In addition, while on an official visit to Rome, Sharon asked Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to help enlist the European Union in efforts to stem the rise in European anti-Semitism.

”An ever stronger Muslim presence in Europe is certainly endangering the life of Jewish people,” Sharon said in an interview published today by EUpolitix.com, an online newswire dedicated to EU affairs.

”These days to conduct an anti-Semite policy is not a popular thing, so the anti-Semites bundle their policies in with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Sharon said. ”Of course there are anti-Semites who use the events in Israel and the argument that Israel uses excessive force, and through this they are trying to compromise Israel’s right to self-defense. Thus there is a danger to Jews.”

”I would say… EU governments are not doing enough to tackle anti-Semitism,” Sharon said. ”Of course it is dangerous to generalize, but it is possible to say that the majority of countries in Europe do not have a balanced policy,” he told EUpolitix. ”Today, during the Italian presidency, we can say that Europe’s policy is balanced.”

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