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Everyday Antisemitism

Leaflets blaming Jews for the Holocaust found at Polish University

The passage of the new law in Poland, which criminalises mention of Polish involvement in the murder of Jews in the Holocaust, has brought to the surface worrisome evidence of the antisemitism which has been endemic in Polish society for centuries.

Some public statements have been bizarre indeed and have transparently distorted the facts in order to try to blame Jews themselves for their victimisation by Nazis and Poles alike during WW2.  Even the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said on 17th February 2018 at the Munich Security Conference that the Holocaust had Polish perpetrators, just as it had Jewish ones (emphasis added).

Polish universities are not exempt either from these attempts to minimise the brutality of the treatment of Jewish Poles at the hands of fellow Poles and the Nazis.  Recently an antisemitic leaflet was found in a faculty of the University of Warsaw, which, translated, echoes the theme in the previous paragraph and, in a transparent attempt to deflect from Polish complicity, alleges that Polish Jews themselves were complicit in war crimes against their own people and Poles. The tone of the leaflet is strident and seems designed to appeal, as is so often the case, to emotion rather than reason.

Under the heading “Polish death camps know the truth” for example, is the following, and the writer even refers to Hannah Arendt, whose own views were deemed controversial, to support his:

“… When the Germans began mass deportations of Jews to the death camps, the Jewish (sic) in the ghettos actively participated in the extermination of Jews. They helped, by registering all Jews in ghettos and directing them to extermination camps. Hannah Arendt, one of the most famous Jewish thinker of the twenty century, stated that without the active participation of the Judenants, [Judenrat?] the number of killed Jews would be much smaller. For Jews the role that Jewish leaders played in the destruction of their nation is undoubtedly the darkest chapter of all this grim history…”

Not content with maligning all Polish Jews living now for complicity in the murder of their own people in WW2, the leaflet then goes on to excoriate them for their alleged crimes against Poles during the Communist era:

” …..  [Jews] Do not want to speak that a significant part of the communist security in Poland were Jews. Between 1944 -1954, 37.1 % of people on managerial position were Jewish or people of Jewish origin in Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Public Security in Poland( Polish government)…”

It then lists those Jews it accuses together with their alleged crimes.

The leaflet was passed directly to Everyday Antisemitism by a concerned individual.

The history of the Jews in Poland dates back over 1,000 years and Poland had the largest, most significant Jewish community in the world for centuries. It was the centre of Jewish culture. The fall of communism there resulted in a Jewish revival which included new study programmes in schools and universities, and the work done in the Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw.  In the light of the antisemitic incidents described above, however, which are a few of many but the number  seems to be increasing as it is in the rest of Europe, Polish Jews can hardly be blamed for being anxious about their future there.

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Sustained assault on 10 year old Jewish girl at her school: an indication of a wider malaise in French society?

At the beginning of October 2017, a ten year old Jewish girl was verbally abused and beaten up so badly by her classmates, for several days in a row, because she was Jewish, that she sustained injuries to her ribs and abdomen and had to be hospitalised.

The girl is French and attended a school in the 18th arrondissement in Paris, where most of her classmates were Muslim.

The girl’s mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said, One of the schoolboys, named Ishmael, beat her after saying ‘I do not love you because you are Jewish.’ The boy also told her: not to pronounce his name Ishmael, for it is the name of a prophet.”

The mother reported the incident to France’s antisemitism watchdog, the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Antisemitism (BNVCA). Paris’s Local Education Authority confirmed to the BNVCA that they would take the incident seriously, and would transfer the girl to a school of her choice.

According to an account on 6th October 2017 by Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the child’s mother added that the family had suffered a psychological shock and needed help. She said that her daughter had nightmares and was constantly afraid of being assaulted.

The CUFI article sets out what looks to be a pattern for the persecution of Jews in France:

  • An increasing number of Jewish families are moving their children from public (state) schools because of growing antisemitism from Muslims in state schools

  • In 1970 only 7,000 French children attended Jewish schools. Today, there are 35,000 Jewish children in Jewish schools in France. In addition, 35,000 Jewish children attend private Christian schools

We also learn that 40,000 French Jews have emigrated to Israel since 2006, and the exodus peaked after the attacks on Charlie Ebdo and Hyper Cacher supermarket. Approximately 10% to 35% had returned to France subsequently but it is believed that the attacks on French Jews since 2006 had acted as a catalyst.

It is suggested that there are parallels between the plight of French Jews and Jews in the UK as regards authorities’ apparent inability, (and what looks to be unwillingness in certain cases in the UK), to act to the full extent to protect their Jewish citizens from attack and punish the perpetrators of such attacks to the full extent of the law. Campaign Against Antisemitism’s latest research has shown that attacks on Jews and Jewish establishments are increasing but prosecutions are falling, and where perpetrators are prosecuted, the sentences handed down are so lenient as almost to be laughable.

At a micro level, the French 10 year old has had to leave the school whose staff had so consummately failed to keep her safe. Just last week, Everyday Antisemitism reported on a mob attack on a group of Jews who were leaving their Synagogue, the latest in a long line of examples of serious antisemitic violence. At a macro level, Jewish emigration from France is increasing, ostensibly for the same reason. Somehow, hatred of Jews has become acceptable in France and the UK to the extent that those whom Jews rely on to keep them safe seem to be almost incapable of doing so, therefore Jews are leaving.

What lessons can be learned from these events before it is too late?

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50 arrested as neo-Nazis march on Yom Kippur in climate of increasing antisemitism from Left and Right

Swedish society has had a major problem which hardly ever makes the news abroad, in the shape of the rising antisemitism increasingly evident from all sections of society.  In September this year, in an article reminiscent of Campaign Against Antisemitism’s recent UK study which found that 1 in 3 of the Jews polled had considered leaving Britain because of antisemitism, Arutz Sheva reported that in Malmo, Sweden’s third largest city with a population of 300,000 barely 500 Jews remain today of more than 2,000 who lived there in the 1970s.  The rest had left either for Stockholm or for Israel.  The European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights reveals that a third of the Jews of the Old Continent have stopped wearing religious symbols because of fear of attacks. From Denmark to Germany Jews are warned not to wear the Jewish kippah.  Elsewhere we read of chants in Arabic of “Death to the Jews!”  Malmo, however, seems to believe that it can deal with the problem by talking about it and argues that this is becoming successful. However, while the number of reported antisemitic hate crimes has decreased recently, Frederick Sieradzki, chair of Malmo’s Jewish community thinks that that does not tell the whole story.

“If you look at the raw statistics it can look like things are improving, but it can also be just that registered crimes are down,” he said.  And then, perhaps unwittingly, Sieradzki names the fundamental problem which faces Jews everywhere in the west, that antisemitism is becoming so normalised and embedded into the discourse that far too often it is not recognised for what it is:

“If you don’t feel like something has happened, why would you report it? That’s a problem.”

In Sweden as elsewhere in Europe, left wing antisemitism is also emerging and strengthening. In 2015 events in Umea, where a 77th anniversary of Kristallnacht was commemorated to which no Jews were invited, evidenced not only that the organisers were totally insensitive to the impact of such a decision but also a growing trend of at least minimising the importance to Swedish Jews of commemoration of the Holocaust.  Jews were not invited, according to one Jan Hägglund, a local lawmaker and member of the local (left-leaning) Workers’ Party [better known as the Social Democratic Workers’ Party (SAP), Sweden’s largest party], because the rally could “be perceived as unwelcoming or unsafe situation for them.” According to [the centrist Swedish newspaper] Norrköping Tidningar, previous rallies have included Palestinian flags and banners where the Star of David was equated with the Nazi swastika. (The reader may be forgiven for wondering at least why such displays were permitted in the first place at these events if it was believed that they would lead to Jews feeling unsafe at them).

Perhaps as a result of similar thoughtlessness and failure to apprehend or assess their impact, there are also much more recent signs of the emergence in Sweden of far right antisemitism, see here and here .   The last is particularly egregious. For all its laid-back attitude to such insult to others, it should beggar belief that Swedish officialdom should permit a Nazi rally to march past Gothenburg’s synagogue on the holiest day of the Jewish year. Following the outrage from Jewish community leaders, a court in Gothenberg  rerouted the planned neo-Nazi march on Yom Kippur farther away from its synagogue.

The Gothenburg administrative court ruling concerning the 30th September march by the far-right Nordic Resistance Movement overrode the suggested route by police. The court also shortened the route, so that the Yom Kippur worshippers will not now have to encounter the neo-Nazis.

When the march went ahead, it was marked by violence between neo-Nazis and the police. Clashes between neo-Nazis and counter-protesters led to 50 arrests, with what reports portray as quite serious clashes between the two and police, with projectiles being thrown and fireworks being ignited. Around 600 neo-Nazis marched in black body armour in a pseudo-military display of intimidation.

On our initial report on the NRM, we uncovered several explicitly neo-Nazi beliefs which are clearly directly inspired by Hitler. Similarly, the tactic of large public marches with militaristic iconography is reminiscent of early Fascism.

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German authorities refuse to classify attacks on Synagogue as antisemitic as Rabbi claims antisemitism is routinely downplayed

The city of Ulm, in the state of Baden-Wurtenberg, in southwestern Germany, is on the banks of the Danube. In World War II The Jews of Ulm, around 500 people, were first discriminated against and later persecuted, and their synagogue was torn down after Kristallnacht in November 1938. Baden Wurtenburg now has some 2,800 Jews who belong to the community, according to the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

The New Synagogue in Ulm, dedicated in 2012, is a magnificent building, On 26 August and 2 September 2017, the synagogue was attacked. One or more perpetrators kicked at the building’s facade and later rammed it with a metal post, breaking through the outer wall. According to reports, repairs will cost several thousand dollars.

This alone is unconscionable. Incomprehensible however is the reaction of the local police:

On 12 September, an Ulm police spokesman said that antisemitism was “not out of the question,” but added that investigators were looking into all possibilities and that there were no suspects. This in spite of the fact that an image of a possible perpetrator carrying an object resembling a metal post was publicised on 11 September, along with a telephone number for potential witnesses to call. The photograph, which also shows two people with the man, was got from a security video camera. The police report also notes that “investigators are aware that the perpetrator and his companions were seen by witnesses shortly before and after” the incidents.

Rabbi Schneur Trebnik told the Juedische Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany’s Jewish weekly, that authorities routinely play down reports of antisemitic incidents, and that community members are fearful of being recognized as Jewish on the streets. (This is reminiscent of the findings of CAA’s recent Antisemitism Barometer in which 39% of the British Jews polled replied that they concealed their Judaism in public). Rabbi Trebnik said that In this case, local Jews are upset that no one who saw the attack in progress called police.

This reluctance to act against vandalism perpetrated on the New Shul in Ulm  is worrisome to say the least, but the German police’s attitude in this case seems to form part of a pattern which is depressingly familiar. In 2016, a German appeals court declined to question a lower court over its verdict that three Palestinian men who tried to set a Wuppertal synagogue on fire in 2014 were not guilty of antisemitism. The defendants had claimed they were motivated by anger at Israel and not by antisemitism and they were believed. The lower court had found that while the targeting of a synagogue was serious circumstantial evidence, it could not conclude that the act was committed out of antisemitic motives. This is ludicrous, given the ease with which the PA, Hamas et al conflate “Jews” and “Zionism”, and an obsessive negative focus on Israel can argued to evidence antisemitism regardless of the circumstances (See reference in the EUMC working definition below).

To add to the confusion, in another case in 2016 a court in Essen upheld a verdict that anti-Israel chantings of “death and hate to Zionists” at a 2014 demonstration were tantamount to antisemitism.

That confusion could easily be have been clarified by the guidance in the EUMC’s working definition of antisemitism, which includes:

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.”

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Toronto Imam allegedly calls for “systematic elimination” of Jews

Yesterday Everyday Antisemitism covered the long antisemitic history of a Montreal-based Imam. This seems not to be an isolated case. Elsewhere in Canada, the Toronto Sun reported one Maulana Syed Mohammad Zaki Baqri, a cleric of the Pickering-based Council of Islamic Guidance and the corresponding Al Mahdi Centre in Toronto, who allegedly told the June 24 Al Quds Day rally there in a combination of English and Arabic that Jews and Israelis need to be eliminated for what they claim they have done to the people of Gaza:

The systematic elimination of Jews … Israelis, Zionists should know … It is the law that whoever oppresses, he has to be eliminated. One day or another”

That statement is notable because it shows that any distinction in Islamists’ perception between Jews and Zionists is merely cosmetic, showing the “anti-Zionism” cloak to often be an increasingly threadbare cover for antisemitism. This is common in antisemitic discourse generally, but the purveyors of it invariably give themselves away, as have these two Canada-based imams, by their obsessive focus on the “crimes” of Israel (real or imagined) and their apparent inability to censor themselves from the carrying across of antisemitic tropes to their criticism of “Zionists.”

In this case, the cleric is under investigation as a result of a complaint to the Hate Crimes Unit of the Toronto police. The article also sets out the police’s apparent unwillingness to act to ban the gathering, in a manner reminiscent of the UK Metropolitan Police’s attitude towards banning the Al-Quds day march there, at which were paraded Hizballah flags.

Such antisemitism is, unfortunately, often internalised from childhood in such cases, particularly within radical Islamic communities, to the extent that some of those who resort to it may have no idea that what they are doing is highly offensive if not illegal in the West. Even where they do know, far too often their commitment to their extremist beliefs overrides any awareness, as seems to be the case here. This is not to excuse the behaviour, but internalised beliefs are very difficult to undermine, particularly when they are allowed to enter general discourse where repeated use makes them acceptable. The best recourse is for police forces to grasp the nettle firmly and deal with them ever more strongly to the full extent of the law whenever and wherever they occur.

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Canadian Imam who allegedly called Jews “human demons” finally sought by police after years of antisemitic comments

According to the Montreal Gazette, Montreal police have issued an arrest warrant for Sheikh Muhammad ibn Musa al Nasr, a Palestinian-Jordanian imam who, in a sermon in the Dar Al-Arqam Mosque in Montreal in late 2016, allegedly referred to Jews as “the worst among mankind” and “human demons” and said that he looked forward to the end of days when they would be destroyed. The imam also quoted a well-known hadith, the hadith of the Gharqad Tree, in which stones and trees encourage Muslims to come and kill Jews who are hiding behind them. That hadith is quoted in full in the Hamas Charter.

The B’nai Brith of Canada lodged the criminal complaint against al Nasr and were satisfied with the police response. In March last year, after al Nasr’s sermon, the Muslim Council of Montreal called on the mosque to apologise for having invited him. It is not known whether the mosque did so. The Dar al Arqam Mosque is one of the few mosques in Montreal not under the umbrella of the Muslim Council of Montreal, but it seems that the imam’s behaviour constitutes a pattern in Montreal:

In June 2017 a Youtube video was released of Sheikh Wael Al-Ghitawi whose sermon, in November 2014 at the Al Andalous Islamic Centre in Montreal, was against “the people who slayed the prophets, shed their blood, and cursed the Lord …” Also in early June, a video from August 2014 and released on YouTube showed a different imam at the same mosque allegedly calling for the destruction of “the accursed Jews” and that they be killed “one by one.”

In relation this latest incident, the CBC reported the Muslim Montreal Council’s statement which included the following: that “to use the themes of the Prophet to spread hatred is actually something that is disrespectful towards the Prophet himself.”

That may or may not be true, but the statement is is notable more for what it does not say than for what it does: One can speculate about what might be meant by “using the themes of the Prophet to spread hatred” but highly significant is the statement’s emphasis on al Nasr’s sermon showing disrespect towards the Muslim prophet, whilst at the same time it ignores the immense disrespect and hatred that the sermon showed towards Jews or the sense of threat it might have engendered. There is also the matter of the apology required from the mosque for having hosted al Nasr, but notably no such apology was given.