Seventy-five years after the Holocaust, hundreds of thousands of Europe’s Jews are standing at the edge of a dangerous precipice:
- In France…tens of thousands of Jewish citizens have fled the country for Israel due to increasing anti-Jewish violence. One young mother told a reporter, “I’m scared of the future for my baby here.”
- In the UK…anti-Semitic attacks are at record levels according to a report by Community Security Trust released this year, with 2017 witnessing a 34% rise in violent assaults against Jewish people. Meanwhile, the country’s Labour Party is rife with anti-Semitism.
- In Germany…newly released statistics show that anti-Semitic hate crimes jumped by more than 10%, and that one-fifth of those took place in Berlin alone!
- In Norway…a new report found that one-third of Jewish high school students in Oslo are harassed verbally or physically at least twice a month.
Indeed, a recent poll found that 38% of European Jews are considering leaving out of fear for their future. And another EU survey shows that 89% of European Jews believe anti-Semitism has worsened in the last five years and that a full 85% believe anti-Semitism is the main problem in their country.
Not long ago, a synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden, was firebombed on a Friday evening. At the same time in Malmo, Sweden, demonstrators chanted, “We have declared an intifada from Malmo. We want our freedom back. And we will shoot the Jews.”
But the battle continues, beyond Scandinavia. In the United Kingdom, anti-Semitism has been injected into the mainstream of British society largely because Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party and potential future Prime Minister, has allowed anti-Semitism to fester in his party and even publicly praised Islamist preacher Raed Salah as “a voice that must be heard.”
You may not have heard of Salah, but he has repeated the murderous blood libel that Jews use gentile blood for religious purposes. And Corbyn has a history of coddling terrorists that distresses millions of people, far beyond the Jewish community. It has grown so bad that UK Jews have defined Corbyn as “an existential threat.”
And while the Labour Party itself has adopted the definition of anti-Semitism drafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), the party’s version includes a caveat calling criticism of Israel “free speech.” Center Director and representative at the UN, Mark Weitzman, played a key role in drafting and promoting the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism, and he warns that Labour’s proposed clause could easily be abused by bigots seeking to camouflage their anti-Semitism.
Meanwhile, the Simon Wiesenthal Center recently helped secure a historic breakthrough when thirty-one European nations adopted a new definition of anti-Semitism. Now he is calling upon the UN to immediately appoint a Special Representative on anti-Semitism to investigate and act on increasing manifestations of anti-Jewish hate.
In an exciting new development, a declaration on fighting anti-Semitism was adopted by the 28-nation Council of the European Union. This Declaration could be a significant step in committing the EU to both fighting anti-Semitism and providing for the security of Europe’s Jews.
The U.S. Is Not Immune
According to Jonathan Greenblatt, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “Anti-Semitism is on the rise in America.”
When 11 were killed in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in modern U.S. history at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue last October, many Americans saw it as a shocking one-of-a-kind incident. The ADL saw it as part of a larger trend.
In 2017, anti-Semitic incidents jumped 57% over the previous year. Hate crimes against Jews grew 37% in the same period, according to a separate FBI analysis.
Greenblatt said, “In 2017, the ADL counted 1986 anti-Semitic incidents, the biggest jump we’ve ever seen.”
There are several reasons for this, I think.
We’re living in a charged political environment. Things are polarized in ways we haven’t seen in recent memory. When leaders at the highest levels use incredibly intemperate language and repeat the rhetoric of extremists, we shouldn’t be surprised when young people—let alone others—imitate what they see.
“Extremists feel emboldened by this,” Greenblatt continued. “We know this because we’re tracking what they say on social media and in chat rooms.”
New statistics by the New York Police Department confirm that the number of hate crimes targeting Jews—in a city with the world’s largest Jewish population—was more than double the total of hate crimes targeting all other communities combined!
The truth is that FBI statistics confirm over and over again each year that American Jews are by far the largest target for religious-based hate crimes, despite comprising just 2% of the population.
Anti-Jewish hate is on the rise in the U.S., and here, history’s oldest hatred is fueled by a new generation of tech-savvy bigots. There are new slogans promoting old hatreds—you surely recall the cries of “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us” heard at the so-called alt-right, Nazi-like, torchlight march in Charlottesville, Virginia.
A key component in the existence and rise in anti-Semitism is the Israel-Palestine conflict. In the interest of time and space, we’ll discuss that in a future blog.