Diaspora Ministry reports surge in anti-Semitism, links it to far-right
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Diaspora Ministry reports surge in anti-Semitism, links it to far-right

Increase in incidents against Jews also attributed to pro-Palestinian campus activity in the US; report blasts UK's Labour Party

This photo taken on August 24, 2013, shows far-right NPD party activists holding up NPD flags and German flags as they protest against the new home for asylum seekers in the district Hellersdorf-Marzahn in Berlin. (AFP Photo/Odd Andersen)
This photo taken on August 24, 2013, shows far-right NPD party activists holding up NPD flags and German flags as they protest against the new home for asylum seekers in the district Hellersdorf-Marzahn in Berlin. (AFP Photo/Odd Andersen)

A report set to be presented by Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett at Sunday’s cabinet meeting found a marked increase in anti-Semitic incidents throughout the world during 2016, in particular in Western countries with emerging far-right movements.

The release of the report, which was compiled in large part with the help of a monitoring system developed for the Diaspora Affairs Ministry that tracks anti-Semitic posts on social media in real time, comes in the run-up to International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.

One of the report’s key findings was the record number of anti-Semitic incidents in Germany during 2016, which totaled 461, up over 200 percent from the same period in 2015.

The report attributed the rise in anti-Semitism in Germany to disillusionment over the government’s liberal migration policy and the resurgence of the far-right there.

In this Friday, June 26, 2015 file photo protesters demonstrate against accommodation for migrants in Freital, Germany, near Dresden. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer, File)
In this June 26, 2015, photo protesters demonstrate against accommodation for migrants in Freital, Germany, near Dresden. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer, File)

The United Kingdom also experienced a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in 2016, including a 62% rise in the number of violent attacks in London alone.

While the report noted that the majority of the incidents in the UK were perpetrated by far-right actors, the left-leaning Labour Party was also singled out for scrutiny, which saw over 50 members suspended in 2016 for anti-Semitic comments they made, most notably former London mayor Ken Livingstone’s remarks that “before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews,” Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had been “supporting Zionism.”

Another troubling trend noted in the report was the rise of historical revisionism in Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland. The report focused on Polish Education Minister Anna Zalewska’s comments in July that appeared to deny Polish responsibility for two massacres of Jews in the 1940s.

An additional area of concern highlighted in the report was rising anti-Semitism on college campuses in the United States, with a 45% overall rise in anti-Semitic incidents.

Much of the increase in anti-Semitism on US college campuses was credited to Students for Justice in Palestine’s discrimination against Jewish students and guest lecturers. According to an October study by Brandeis University, one of the strongest predictors of a perceived hostile environment toward Jews and Israel on campus “is the presence of an active Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group.”

Ahmad Abuleil waves a Palestinian flag as he leads Amira Sakalla, head of University of Tennessee Students for Justice In Palestine, and others in a march in Knoxville, Tenn. on Friday, July 18, 2014 (AP/Knoxville News Sentinel, Megan Boehnke)
Ahmad Abuleil waves a Palestinian flag as he leads Amira Sakalla, head of University of Tennessee Students for Justice In Palestine, and others in a march in Knoxville, Tenn. on Friday, July 18, 2014 (AP/Knoxville News Sentinel, Megan Boehnke)

One bright spot in the report was a decrease in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in France, which were down 65 percent from 2015. This reduction was attributed largely to government efforts to combat anti-Semitism, although the report noted that more needs to be done in light of growing anti-Semitic extremism on both the French far right and far left.

The report also accused the Palestinian Authority of promoting anti-Semitism, in particular for their “systematic use of religious anti-Semitic and other narratives in order to nurture hatred toward Israelis and Jews” among Palestinians living under areas controlled by the PA.

Additionally, the report highlighted a marked increase in the amount of anti-Semitism present on social media, which it noted occurred in tandem with the US presidential campaign. The report emphasized that social media has become the leading outlet for anti-Semitism and racism, as it provides a platform for “marginal groups” such as the so-called alt-right, a white nationalist movement, and extreme left to spread their message to a much larger audience.

The report also found an increase in the use of anti-Israel rhetoric as a cover for anti-Semitism, in particular on social media.

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