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Group Publishes Anti-Semitism Report

Associated Press, USA
Dec. 2, 2003
Melissa Eddy
story.news.yahoo.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Thursday December 4, 2003

FRANKFURT, Germany – Europe’s leading Jewish organization released a study on anti-Semitism in Europe Tuesday, claiming the European Union’s racism watchdog suppressed it for political reasons.

The year-old study, published on the Web sites of British, French and German members of the European Jewish Congress, found an overall increase in anti-Semitic activity in European Union nations since the escalation of the Middle East conflict in 2000.

Serge Cwajgenbaum, the congress’ secretary-general, said the study accurately reflects the rise in incidents witnessed by Jewish community leaders across Europe.

“We are scandalized that the factual elements of the study were hidden from us,” Cwajgenbaum said in a telephone interview from Paris, where the center is based.

The European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia in Vienna a year ago commissioned the study from the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at Berlin’s Technical University. The European Monitoring Center’s director, Bob Purkiss, said the study was shelved because the research was “of poor quality and lacking in empirical evidence.”

But Wolfgang Benz, the director of the anti-Semitism research center, insisted the information was solid and gathered from well-known monitoring bodies in the EU’s 15 member nations.

“This report was handed over in January with the intent to be published,” Benz said. “For months it was not released, for purely political reasons.”

The Congress said the study was suppressed it because it made a link between anti-Jewish violence in Europe and the Middle East conflict. In explaining its decision to publish the report, the Paris-based Congress condemned what it called the “unilateral and eminently political decision” to withhold it.

“There are some weaknesses in this study, but nonetheless, the quality is not under question,” Cwajgenbaum said. “The conclusions are entirely identical to what we have noticed on the ground across Europe.”

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the EU monitoring group has published several reports on anti-Islamic attitudes in Europe, but had not focused on anti-Semitism.

According to the study, the most serious incidents, including physical attacks and insults against Jews, were committed in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain, while Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Finland which all have small Jewish communities saw very few occurrences of anti-Semitism. Threats in Germany and Italy were found to be somewhere in between, and included phone calls, insulting letters, slogans and graffiti.

The study found that an increase of anti-Semitic attacks on Jews in Europe. It blamed most of the attacks on right-wing extremists or radical Islamists or young Muslims mostly of Arab descent. It also found, however, that “anti-Semitic statements came from pro-Palestinian groups as well as from politicians and citizens from the political mainstream.”

The congress called on European leaders to come up with “concrete and concerted measures … to call a halt to these intolerable acts which target Jewish communities and individuals in Europe.”

Associated Press Writer Jamey Keaten in Paris contributed to this report

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