Die umstrittene EU-Studie:
Manifestationen des Antisemitismus in der
et le CJE publient en exclusivité le rapport non diffusé à ce jour
de l'Observatoire européen sur le racisme et la xénophobie, consacré
aux "manifestations de l'antisémitisme dans l'Union européenne".
Alerted early in 2002 by worrying news on
anti-Semitic incidents in some Member States the European Monitoring
Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) decided to commission a
report on “Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the EU” covering the
first half of 2002. The report is based partly on short-term
information provided to the authors by National Focal Points (NFPs)
of the EUMC, giving special emphasis to the period between May 15
and June 15. The NFPs are the contact points to national networks in
the Member States reporting regularly to the EUMC within its
European Information Network RAXEN.
In their reports the National Focal Points were asked to cover the
– Physical acts of violence towards Jews, their communities,
organisations or their property;
– Verbal aggression/hate speech and other, subtler forms of
discrimination towards Jews;
– Research studies reporting anti-Semitic violence or opinion polls
on changed attitudes towards Jews;
– Good practices for reducing prejudice, violence and aggression by
– Reactions by politicians and other opinion leaders including
initiatives to reduce polarization and counteract negative national
The situation in the EU Member States
The reports and our own investigations show that
in spring 2002 many EU Member States experienced a wave of
anti-Semitic incidents. They were tied to public discussion on the
dividing line between legitimate criticism of Israeli government
policy and anti-Semitic argumentation. This wave of anti-Semitism
started with the “Al-Aqsa-Intifada” in October 2000 and was fuelled
by the conflict in the Middle East and the attacks on the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon on 11September 2001 , which triggered
off a fierce debate on the causes of radical Islamic terrorism.
During the first half of 2002 the rise of anti-Semitism reached a
climax in the period between the end of March and mid-May, running
parallel to the escalation of the Middle East conflict, whereas
factors which usually determine the frequency of anti-Semitic
incidents in the respective countries, such as the strength and the
degree of mobilisation extremist far-right parties and groups can
generate, have not played the decisive role.
In the months following the monitoring period the sometimes heated
discussions about the Middle East conflict in the public sphere and
the media died down and the number of incidents decreased. In
countries like Denmark, Greece, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,
The Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland there are only a few
or no incidents known for the period after July 2002. In some Member
States like Belgium, France and Sweden anti-Semitic incidents,
including violent attacks and threatening phone calls, increased
again in September and October, but not that much as in the period
monitored. Anti-Semitic leaflets, hate mail and phone calls were
also reported for Germany and the United Kingdom.
This leads to the conclusion that the increase in anti-Semitic
attacks was in this case set off by the events in the Middle East, a
foreign event that however exerted a varying impact on the
individual Member States. An exact quantitative comparison is not
possible because of:
1) the difficult and varied classification of anti-Semitic
2) the difficulty of differentiating between criticism of Israeli
governmental policy and anti-Semitism; and
3) the differences in systematically collating information about
anti-Semitic incidents in the EU Member States.
While there is no common pattern of incidents for all countries,
some similarities occur. But it must be underlined that some
countries (such as Germany, France, the Netherlands and the United
Kingdom) have a very effective data and monitoring system, and this
is not the case elsewhere .
There are a number of EU Member States, namely Ireland, Luxembourg,
Portugal and Finland, where the Jewish communities are rather small
and anti-Semitic incidents in general seldom occur. This was true
during the monitoring period. At most, threatening letters were sent
to the Israeli consulate or to local Jews. Portugal and Finland each
also suffered one attack on a synagogue.
On the other hand, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK
witnessed rather serious anti-Semitic incidents (see the respective
country reports) such as numerous physical attacks and insults
directed against Jews and the vandalism of Jewish institutions
(synagogues, shops, cemeteries). Fewer anti-Semitic attacks were
reported from Denmark and Sweden.
Other countries also experienced incidents of anti-Semitism. Greece
suffered desecrations of cemeteries and memorials by the far-right .
Anti-Semitic statements and sentiments often linked to Israeli
government policy were found in the mass media and were also
expressed by some politicians and opinion leaders. Spain, where the
traditionally strong presence of neo-Nazi groups was evident
suffered a series of attacks by people with a radical Islamist
background . Italy showed a certain similarity with Germany;
although no physical attacks were evident, there were threatening
telephone calls, insulting letters, slogans and graffiti. From
Austria no physical attacks were reported; and few verbal threats
and insults. Anti-Semitic stereotypes in relation to Israel were to
be found essentially in right-wing newspapers and amongst far-right
In the public domain in Spain, France, Italy and Sweden, sections of
the political left and Arab-Muslim groups unified to stage
pro-Palestinian demonstrations. While the right to demonstrate is of
course a civil right, and these demonstrations are not intrinsically
anti-Semitic, at some of these anti-Semitic slogans could be heard
and placards seen; and some demonstrations resulted in attacks upon
Jews or Jewish institutions. In the Netherlands pro-Palestine
demonstrators of Moroccan origin used anti-Semitic symbols and
slogans. In Finland however, pro-Palestinian demonstrations passed
without any anti-Semitic incidents. In Germany, and less so in
Austria, public political discourse was dominated by a debate on the
link between Israeli policy in the Middle East conflict and
anti-Semitism, a debate in which the cultural and political elite
were involved. In Germany and the United Kingdom the critical
reporting of the media was also a topic for controversy. In other
countries such as Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, and
Finland there was no such heated public discussion on the theme of
criticism of Israel/anti-Semitism (see country reports).
Perpetrators and kinds of anti-Semitic activities
For many anti-Semitic incidents, especially for
violent and other punishable offences, it is typical that the
perpetrators attempt to remain anonymous. Thus, in many cases the
perpetrators could not be identified, so an assignment to a
political or ideological camp must remain open. Nevertheless, from
the perpetrators identified or at least identifiable with some
certainty, it can be concluded that the anti-Semitic incidents in
the monitoring period were committed above all either by right-wing
extremists or radical Islamists or young Muslims mostly of Arab
descent, who are often themselves potential victims of exclusion and
racism ; but also that anti-Semitic statements came from
pro-Palestinian groups (see country report Italy: public discourse)
as well as from politicians (see country reports Germany, Greece,
Finland, Austria) and citizens from the political mainstream (see
anti-Semitic letters, e-mails and phone calls in Germany as well as
in other countries). The following forms of anti-Semitic activities
have been experienced:
– Desecration of synagogues, cemeteries, swastika graffiti,
threatening and insulting mail as well as the denial of the
Holocaust as a theme, particularly on the Internet. These are the
forms of action to be primarily assigned to the far-right.
– Physical attacks on Jews and the desecration and destruction of
synagogues were acts often committed by young Muslim perpetrators in
the monitoring period. Many of these attacks occurred either during
or after pro-Palestinian demonstrations, which were also used by
radical Islamists for hurling verbal abuse. In addition, radical
Islamist circles were responsible for placing anti-Semitic
propaganda on the Internet and in Arab-language media.
– Anti-Semitism on the streets also appears to be expressed by young
people without any specific anti-Semitic prejudices, so that “many
incidents are committed just for fun”. Other cases where young
people were the perpetrators could be classified as “thrill hate
crimes”, a well-known type of xenophobic attack.
– In the extreme left-wing scene anti-Semitic remarks were to be
found mainly in the context of pro-Palestinian and
anti-globalisation rallies and in newspaper articles using
anti-Semitic stereotypes in their criticism of Israel. Often this
generated a combination of anti-Zionist and anti-American views that
formed an important element in the emergence of an anti-Semitic mood
in Europe. Israel, seen as a capitalistic, imperialistic power, the
“Zionist lobby”, and the United States are depicted as the evildoers
in the Middle East conflict as well as exerting negative influence
on global affairs. The convergence of these motives served both
critics of colonialism and globalisation from the extreme left and
the traditional anti-Semitic right-wing extremism as well as parts
of the radical Islamists in some European countries.
– More difficult to record and to evaluate in its scale than the
“street-level violence” against Jews is “salon anti-Semitism” as it
is manifested “in the media, university common rooms, and at dinner
parties of the chattering classes”.
– In the heated public debate on Israeli politics and the boundary
between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism, individuals who are
not politically active and do not belong to one of the ideological
camps mentioned above become motivated to voice their latent
anti-Semitic attitudes (mostly in the form of telephone calls and
insulting letters). Opinion polls prove that in some European
countries a large percentage of the population harbours anti-Semitic
attitudes and views, but that these usually remain latent.
Some commentators discuss the possible influence
of the mass media on an escalation of anti-Semitic incidents. The
question at issue is whether this escalation was merely an agenda
setting effect of the daily media coverage of the violence in the
Middle East or whether the reporting itself had an anti-Semitic
– The Jewish communities regarded the one-sidedness, the aggressive
tone of the reporting on Israeli policy in the Middle East conflict
and references to old Christian anti-Jewish sentiments as
– The country reports (Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden)
list some cases of anti-Semitic arguments or stereotypes (cartoons)
in the quality press, but only very few systematic media analyses
are available. Anti-Semitic reporting can mainly be found in the
far-right spectrum of the European press.
– One study of the German quality press (see country report on
Germany) concludes that the reporting concentrated greatly on the
violent events and the conflicts and was not free of anti-Semitic
clichés; at the same time this negative view also applies to the
description of the Palestinian actors. The report on Austria
identified anti-Semitic allusions in the far right press.
– Observers point to an “increasingly blatant anti-Semitic Arab and
Muslim media”, including audiotapes and sermons, in which the call
is not only made to join the struggle against Israel but also
against Jews across the world. Although leading Muslim organisations
express their opposition to this propaganda, observers assume that
calling for the use of violence may influence readers and listeners.
The Internet reflects a development observable
since 2000, namely the networking of the extreme right via links
with sections of radical Islamists, some sites from
anti-globalisation campaigners and from the anti-American far left.
Since the end of the 1990s there has been a dramatic increase in the
number of homepages present on the web from far-right groups and
parties, which quite often also have ties to radical Islamic
fundamentalists. In addition, the Internet provides easy access to
music from the far right, which glorifies violence and is often
anti-Semitic. Sales and distribution centres for such music are
mainly located in Scandinavia. Up till now, state organs have paid
too little attention to the Arab language publications which spread
anti-Semitic propaganda in European countries, whether through
newspapers, audiotapes or the Internet.
Prevalent anti-Semitic prejudices
As almost all reports emphasise, Jews in the EU
Member States are well integrated socially, economically and
culturally, and as such the typical motives of xenophobia (fear of
competition for jobs, housing and social welfare, linguistic and
cultural otherness of migrants, external appearance) are hardly of
consequence. Instead, the Jews are basically imagined to be a
nationally and internationally influential group, allegedly
controlling politics and the economy. Hence, anti-Semitism has other
motives and a different structure from racism.
– The dominating assumption of contemporary anti-Semitism is still
that of a Jewish world conspiracy, i.e. the assumption that Jews are
in control of what happens in the world, whether it be through
financial or media power, whether it be the concealed political
influence mainly exerted on the USA, but also on European countries.
This basic assumption is applied to explain very different
phenomena. The Holocaust denial assumes a central role in European
right-wing extremism. It is purported that the Holocaust has never
taken place and that the Jewish side, exploiting their victim
status, use the “Auschwitz lie” to apply moral pressure on mainly
European governments (restitution, support for Israeli policies),
but also to influence US policy towards Israel. Furthermore, the
thesis of the “Auschwitz lie” naturally also negates the assertion
that the foundation of the state of Israel was historically
necessary in order to create a secure homeland for the survivors of
the Holocaust and Jews in general. Precisely at this point, extreme
right-wing propaganda becomes employable ideologically for radical
Islamist groups in their struggle against Israel, for the victim
status and Israel’s right to exist are challenged by the “Auschwitz
lie”. Here a learning process has taken place in which “revisionist”
thought has been adopted by some people in the Arab world. The
influence of these ideas is supported by a number of Western
Holocaust deniers like Jürgen Graf, Gerd Honsik, Wolfgang Fröhlich
who fled prosecution in their homelands and found asylum in Arab
countries, and last but not least by Roger Garaudy who was hailed as
a hero throughout the Middle East when he faced prosecution by the
French government for inciting racial hatred. Via Arab-language
media (newspapers, satellite TV and internet) in Europe these
notions reach a small section of the Arab speaking population in
– Following September 11, 2001, some hold that Islamist terrorism is
a natural consequence of the unsolved Middle East conflict, for
which Israel alone is held responsible. They ascribe to Jews a major
influence over the USA’s allegedly biased pro-Israel policies. This
is where anti-American and anti-Semitic attitudes could converge and
conspiracy theories over “Jewish world domination” might flare up
– The assumption of close ties between the US and Israel gives rise
to a further motive for an anti-Semitic attitude. Amongst the
political left, anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism are very closely
tied together. Due to its occupation policy, sections of the peace
movement, opponents of globalisation as well as some Third World
countries view Israel as aggressive, imperialistic and colonialist.
Taken on its own terms this is naturally not to be viewed as
anti-Semitic; and yet there are exaggerated formulations which
witness a turn from criticism into anti-Semitism, for example when
Israel and the Jews are reproached for replicating the most horrific
crimes of the National Socialists like the Holocaust. In the form of
anti-Semitism it could be said that the tradition of demonising Jews
in the past is now being transferred to the state of Israel. In this
way traditional anti-Semitism is translated into a new form, less
deprived of legitimacy, whose employment today in Europe could
become part of the political mainstream.
– Israeli policies toward the Palestinians provide a reason to
denounce Jews generally as perpetrators, thereby questioning their
moral status as victims that they had assumed as a consequence of
the Holocaust. The connection between anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli
sentiment lies in this opportunity for a perpetrator-victim role
reversal. In particular there is an attempt by the right-wing to
compare Israeli policies with the crimes perpetrated against Jews
throughout history in order to minimize or even deny the guilt and
responsibility of their own nations.
– The fact that the Middle East conflict is taking place in the Holy
Land of the Christians has led in a number of countries to a
revitalisation of anti-Judaist motives by church leaders, and
confessional and some liberal newspapers.
The upsurge of anti-Semitic criminal offences and
verbal assaults against Jewish citizens and institutions, but also
against Muslims, indicates that joint action has to be initiated.
This action should not be restricted to one area of society, but has
to deal with a multitude of combined activities. Actions on the
political level should be backed by sound data and information about
the phenomena in question. The civil society has to be mobilized to
establish dialogues, the press, TV and the Internet has to be
addressed to report about ethnic and cultural groups in a
responsible way. Also for large-scale sporting events, preventive
measures fighting racist attacks have to be implemented.
We recommend that the EUMC requests state authorities to acknowledge
at the highest level the extraordinary dangers posed by anti-Semitic
violence in the European context.
Legal • The EUMC should propose to the Member States to adopt the
proposed framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia (COM
2001/664) as soon as possible and call on the Council of Ministers
to ensure that it is amended to be as effective as possible to deal
with reported incidents of anti-Semitism.
• The EUMC should propose to the European Commission and to the
Member States that they consider a decision for police cooperation
according to Article 34 of the Treaty of European Union, which shall
bind all Member States to collect and disseminate data on
anti-Semitic offences. This decision should also involve EUROPOL and
• To achieve effective regulation of the Internet concerning racist
propaganda, it is essential to extend the jurisdiction of European
courts to include detailed provisions on the responsibility of
Internet service providers.
Registering anti-Semitic incidents
• State institutions must assume responsibility
for monitoring anti-Semitism in the individual EU Member States.
These institutions should work in accordance with well-defined
categories enabling them to recognise an anti-Semitic element within
any politically motivated criminal offences they register, and to
then incorporate them into their statistics.
• In some Member States racist attacks are not identified separately
in crime statistics while others have at their disposal
state-sponsored instruments which monitor and pursue anti-Semitic
incidents. We recommend joint strategies for action to be developed,
whereby those countries possessing years of experience in this
regard should pass this on to the other Member States.
• In those countries in which racist and anti-Semitic incidents are
already registered by the security authorities, a swifter processing
and publication of the results must be ensured and not first
presented – as in current practice – in the middle of the following
• There is a need to distinguish clearly in reporting between acts
of violence, threatening behaviour, and offensive speech, and to
make transparent government norms and procedures for registering and
acting upon crimes and offences motivated by anti-Semitism. Only in
this way can a genuinely comparative basis for incidents be attained
for European countries.
Education and sport
• We recommend that the governments of the EU
Member States still absent should undertake initiatives to become
members of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust
Education, Remembrance, and Research, whose purpose is to mobilise
the support of political and social leaders to foster Holocaust
education, remembrance and research.
• We recommend that NGOs engage in initiatives of intercultural and
inter-religious exchange and inter-religious dialogue, and cooperate
in educational information campaigns against racism and
• National ministries of education should organise round tables and
seminars on mutual respect and tolerance; all teachers in the EU
should be required to learn about different religions and faiths,
cultures and traditions; history books used in schools around Europe
should be examined for prejudice, or one-sidedness.
• In the area of European football a whole series of initiatives
have been started in the last few years, which combat racism and
anti-Semitism in the stadiums. We recommend that these activities be
encouraged and extended.
Research • We recommend that research studies should be carried out
on anti-Semitic incidents in specific fields – e.g. sport,
entertainment, public services - and placed in an overall European
context in order to establish a comparative perspective on their
• Across all Member States there should be implemented a coordinated
programme of victim studies to overcome the problem of
underreporting with regard to incidents of anti-Semitism.
• To date there has been no well-founded media analysis on how the
European press exploits and perpetuates anti-Semitic stereotypes. We
recommend the implementation of research studies to fill this gap.
• State authorities, academics and research
institutions engaged with racism and anti-Semitism should establish
joint committees at national and international levels to monitor
anti-Semitism on the Internet. Through mutual exchange these
committees should establish a basis for an improved recording and
combating of racist and anti-Semitic developments on the Internet.
• Recent developments have shown that partly impeded or completely
obstructed access to some homepages at least hinders the possibility
of placing racist propaganda on the Internet. Thus private and state
organisations should exert continuing pressure on large Internet
providers to remove racist and anti-Semitic content from the net.
• The enormous potential of the Internet for educational purposes
has not yet been recognised and utilised. We recommend that projects
are developed to utilise the Internet far more in order to combat
anti-Semitic and racist content with serious counter-information.
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European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia