Growth of anti-Jewish hate crimes in Europe concern local Jewish authorities

The South African Zionist Federation (Cape Council) strongly condemns the death of four people at the Jewish museum in Brussels and the groundswell of anti-Jewish feelings that led to the latest in a series of anti-Semitic hate crimes.

Following hot on the heels of the Anti-Defamation League’s international survey of Anti-Semitism, which confirmed that a quarter of the world’s people harbour clear and classic anti-Jewish views, two unfortunate incidents in Europe have shaken our complacency.

The first event occurred in Spain, reputedly Europe’s third most anti-Jewish country, following the victory of Maccabi Tel Aviv over Real Madrid in the Basketball Euro League. Within days over 25,000 Anti-Semitic messages were posted on Facebook and Twitter.  Spanish supporters created an expletive anti-Semitic hash tag in their messages after the match, which briefly became one of the most popular keywords on Twitter in Spain.

Some messages referred to death camps and the mass murder of Jews in the Holocaust, such as ‘Jews to the oven’ or ‘Jews to the showers’.  The Anti-Defamation League Survey, ranked Greece and France as being more prejudiced against Jews.

Greece captured the ignominious title of being the most anti-Semitic country in Europe.  While Greece has a small Jewish population, France has a much larger community, which is hemorrhaging Jews badly through emigration, either to Israel or to North America. The anti-Jewish sentiment in France has been further exacerbated following the stabbing of 2 young Jewish boys (16yrs and 22yrs) outside a synagogue in Creteil, France on 24 May 2014.

With 69% of Greeks espousing anti-Semitic views, according to the survey, Greece was on par with Saudi Arabia, more anti-Semitic than Iran (56%) and nearly twice as anti-Semitic as Europe’s second-most anti-Semitic country, France (37%).

While the wave of anti-Jewish hate sweeping across Europe, adding fuel to the fire is the negative portrayal of Israel in the European press. Haim Fireberg, director of Research at the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University, responding to the global survey confirmed as much when he declared that “Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism”.

As bad as European anti-Jewish feelings are, they are generally worse across North Africa and the Middle East, where propaganda tends to blame Israel for all the ills in the world. Conspiracy theories abound in these societies, blaming Zionists for being behind every setback that befalls the Arab peoples. Casting Zionism as a cancerous disease, which must be excised from the world polity, smacks of the same rhetoric to remove Jews forever. It is imperative to view the campaign to weaken and delegitimize Israel for what it truly is-a continuation of one of the oldest hates in the world!

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