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Survey: 51% of European Jews feel unsafe wearing Jewish symbols in public, 27% feel generally unsafe

A troubling international survey of Jews has highlighted the worrying effect that antisemitism is having on Jewish communities in Europe.

A survey conducted by the World Zionist Organisation showed that many respondents felt unsafe as Jews, particularly in Europe. 51% of European Jews said they felt unsafe displaying Jewish symbols in public, whereas 27% responded that they felt unsafe generally.  A third had witnessed an act of antisemitic vandalism.

The answers whilst troubling, do not surprise us in the slightest. We have watched as antisemitism in many European countries has spiralled out of control, with authorities often out of their depth when dealing with antisemitic crime.

Outside of Europe, the picture is less worrying, although it still leaves serious cause for concern. In America, 22% of Jews said they felt unsafe displaying Jewish symbols in public and 11% said they felt generally unsafe. These figures, whilst not as bad as those in Europe, are still unacceptably high for a developed country in the 21st century.

The survey also highlights the importance of reporting incidents to the authorities. The majority of those who said they had been the victim of or witnessed an antisemitic incident did not report it. 6% said they feared for their safety if they complained to the police, whereas 30% said they did not want to make a big deal out of it. 42% said they lacked faith in the authorities to deal with it appropriately. Such scepticism of the authorities is not entirely unwarranted. In the UK, Campaign Against Antisemitism was forced to take the Crown Prosecution Service to Judicial Review, whereas court proceedings across the continent have demonstrated an abject failure in dealing with antisemitism, including a German court that ruled that firebombing a Synagogue was not antisemitic. Nonetheless, when an incident is not reported, it is often the case that no action or investigation will take place.

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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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Neo-Nazi finally faces trial, after 2 year delay, for threatening to massacre Jewish schoolchildren

David Lenio is finally being charged with allegedly threatening to massacre Jewish schoolchildren, after a delay of almost two years.

Lenio, a White Nationalist from Montana, is alleged to have said that he wishes to “execute 30 or more grade school students”, put “two in the head of a Rabbi or Jewish leader”, and said that the “USA needs a Hitler to rise to power”.

He is also alleged to have tweeted:

“I think every jew on the planet deserves to be killed for what kikes have done to our #dollar and cost of living Killing jews > wage #slave”

“I’m not even opposed to shooting up a random school like that sandy hoax stunt only realer, to voice my displeasure with being a wage slave”

“Let’s make national news, I david lenio know israel did 9/11 and I am so poor that I want to shoot up a kalispell Montana public school …”

Lenio appears to have been arrested in 2015, and subsequently released on a plea bargain which saw felony charges for intimidation reduced to a misdemeanour, in a manner which has been called into question.  Despite repeatedly referring to himself as a “wage slave”, Lenio appears to have been released into the custody of his wealthy investment banker father.

As a condition of this release, he was ordered not to use social media, a restriction which he has allegedly consistently breached. Despite him initially being apprehended with several weapons, there does not appear to be any evidence that he was disarmed as a condition of his release.

Fortunately, it appears that Lenio will finally come before a Judge this month to answer felony charges. The fact that it has taken this long, despite him apparently having consistently fetishised violence, particularly against Jews, is a rather worrying failure of the Justice and Security systems in the United States. This is a man who repeatedly threatened to kill Jews, against whom a case was dropped in an apparently clandestine manner, and who appeared to be heavily armed. Indeed, it seems quite miraculous that he did not carry out any of the attacks that he threatened, given that the only engagement he was forced to have with the authorities was to report where he was living if he moved. We can only hope that he finally meets with the full force of the law and that prosecutors are more proactive against bringing similar threats to justice in the future.


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Trump reportedly planning to axe counter-Antisemitism post in what has been described as a “disaster” for American Jews

Ira Forman, the former Special Envoy to Counter Antisemitism, has described President Trump’s reported plans to abolish the post as a “disaster” for Jewish communities in the US.

It was reported yesterday that the position, which was created in 2004, is at risk of being abolished in a series of budget cuts being undertaken by the new President.

Forman commented:

“I can’t believe someone at the White House won’t have better sense… This is a disaster. I just can’t believe that they would even think of this given the relatively small budget needed to run this office.”

“This is as bipartisan as an issue as you can get, and I just hope folks at the White House come to their sense”

Whilst difficult calls must be made when it comes to cutting Government budgets, the envoy has a “relatively small” budget according to Forman. Beyond this, America stands in the midst of a rising antisemitism problem. With dozens of hoax bomb threats being made to Jewish institutions, a resurgent far right, and a huge problem with antisemitism coming from the far left and from Islamists on American University campuses, now is the worst time imaginable to be cutting the funding to this office.

Sadly, Trump has form in this area; despite some signs that he wishes to work closely with the Jewish community, including his stated intention to investigate campus antisemitism, President Trump has often been slow to condemn antisemitism, and appeared to berate a Jewish reporter who asked him about antisemitism, describing the question as “insulting”, going on to say “so, here’s the story folks. Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’re ever seen in your entire life…Number two, racism. The least racist person”.

America is at a point at which it needs leadership on the question of antisemitism, which must necessarily involve its President answering questions about the increased threats to Jewish communities with more satisfactorily than simply getting offended and saying that he isn’t personally antisemitic.

With antisemitism becoming a greater concern across America, and becoming more visible, President Trump must commit himself to ensuring the security of American Jews, and to fund bodies which can help to tackle antisemitism. Abolishing the special envoy is a very worrying step in the opposite direction, and will only add to the concerns of American Jews.

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German Court rules that attempt to set fire to Synagogue amounts to criticism of Israel

A Court in the German city Wuppertall upheld a previous decision that the attempt to burn a Synagogue was merely an act of protest against Israel’s actions in the 2014 Gaza War.

The attempted arson was committed by three German Palestinians during the 2014 War. They hurled Molotov cocktails through the windows of the Shul.

The court of first instance said that the acts were an attempt to bring “attention to the Gaza conflict”, and did not constitute antisemitism.

31-year-old Mohamad E., the 26 year-old Ismail A. and the 20-year-old Mohammad A. were given suspended sentences.

Wuppertal’s Synagogue was destroyed during the 1939 Nazi pogrom Kristallnacht, and the new building suffered 800 Euros of damage from the attack.

Thankfully, nobody was hurt in this arson attack, and the alert was raised by a boy who saw the flames from his house.

Volker Beck said that the judgment was in error, saying the “attack on the synagogue was motivated by antisemitism”, asking “what do Jews in Germany have to do with the Middle East conflict? Every bit as much as Christians, non-religious people or Muslims in Germany, namely, absolutely nothing. The ignorance of the judiciary toward antisemitism is for many Jews in Germany especially alarming”

Mr Beck is entirely correct in his analysis. The International Definition of Antisemitism states that “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel”. It is beyond belief that an attempt to set fire to a Synagogue has been minimised as merely “criticism of Israel” by a Court of Law. If even arson attacks against Jewish communal buildings can be passed off as just a case of political protest taken too far, then almost all antisemitism can be minimised as related to Israel in some way. This incident thus shows the urgent need for Western Governments and their institutions to adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism, which we have been pressuring for for a long time, and to ensure that it is understood and applied consistently.

You can read the International Definition of Antisemitism here.



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Neo-Nazis plan armed march against Jewish community in Montana, invite speaker from Hamas and from Nazi organisations worldwide

An armed demonstration by neo-Nazis against the Jewish community of Whitefish, Montana is planned for Monday, January 16, between 4-7 p.m. on Martin Luther King Day, according to ABC Fox Montana News. The neo-Nazis are planning to carry high powered rifles on the march, in a gratuitous attempt to intimidate the Jewish community.

Andrew Anglin, 32,  a neo-Nazi  from Worthington, Ohio, who owns the popular neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer, is organizing the march. The protest is in “defence” of  local Whitefish resident, Sherry Spencer, the mother of white nationalist, Richard Spencer, who is a part-time Whitefish resident.

Spencer, who is credited with coining the controversial term, “alt-right”, believes in “peaceful ethnic cleansing”. In November, at the annual convention of Spencer’s “think tank”, The National Policy Institute, a  media firestorm  was ignited when his followers responded to Spencer’s remark, “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” with Nazi salutes.

Sherry Spencer told the press that public criticism of her son, Richard, whose toxic political rhetoric she and her husband, Rand, a doctor, “unequivocally” reject, has damaged her real estate business.

This was enough ammunition for Anglin to mount an attack on the Jews of Whitefish, since many prominent Jews have argued that Whitefish should not be associated with white supremacy. Public records in Virginia state that the official address of Spencer’s National Policy Institute is located in a building in Whitefish that his mother owns.

Top elected Montana officials, including Montana governor, Steve Bullock, have condemned the march: “We say to those few who seek to publicize antisemitic views that they shall have no safe haven here”.

This warning has clearly been ignored by Anglin. The march is being held against “Jews, Jewish businesses, and everyone who supports either”. Despite Anglin’s belief that Jews are a “vicious, evil race of hate-filled psychopaths”, he claims that violence will not be tolerated

ABC Fox Montana News reported that Chuck Stearns, the Whitefish City Manager, received an incomplete application for the march from Anglin on January 9. The application must be completed before the city can respond.

Whitefish is a ski resort town located in northwestern Montana near the Canadian border. The population of 6,000 people includes 100 families and individuals who are Jewish. The town has one rabbi, who heads an independent synagogue without walls. Whitefish police, in cooperation with the FBI, have stepped up patrols due to threats against the Jewish community that were generated by Anglin’s campaign.

Anglin urged followers to mount an attack against the Whitefish Jewish community. And while Anglin recommended that followers hang up Nazi flags and hold storybook hours, where neighborhood kids are read Hitler’s, Mein Kampf, Rachel Caroll-Rivas, a co-director of the  Montana Human Rights Network, told Slate that she received online and telephone death threats. She quoted an example: “All of you deserve a bullet through your skull. Choke on a shotgun and die.”

Anglin is calling the demonstration the “James Earl Ray Day Extravaganza”, On April 4, 1968, James Earl Ray murdered 39 year old  Martin Luther King Jr. while he was standing on the second-floor balcony of The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

The fact that Anglin, a known racist, deliberately set the march to coincide with Martin Luther King Day is no surprise. A comment posted by Anglin on the Washington Post explains what he wishes to accomplish as “Alt-Right neo-Nazi”: “The goal is to ethnically cleanse white nations of non-whites and set up an authoritarian government. Many people also believe that the Jews should be exterminated“. This leaves the obvious question: how many of those marching through the streets with riles, in a deliberate attempt to intimidate the Jewish community, can be counted among the “many people” who believe that “the Jews should be exterminated”.

ABC Fox Montana News reports that, due to a large donation, Anglin says that he now has the financial clout to bring in “nationalists groups from the UK, Sweden, France and Greece” and maybe even “someone from Hamas”.

Hamas has declared in their charter that they aim to murder every Jew in Israel. And, in order to intimidate the Jewish community, Anglin intends to bring Hamas’s celebration of murder to Whitefish. He states: “they [the Jews] will rue the day, as they see two hundred skinhead Alt-Right Nazis marching with a guy from Hamas carrying machine guns through the center of their town.”

According to The Missoulian, the Whitefish police chief, Bill Dial, has told the understandably anxious Jewish community, that while Anglin has the legal right to protest, the law also gives him the right to demand that the rifles are unloaded.

Dial, who along with the FBI, believes that the march will never happen is still not taking any chances. Dial told the press that he’s “hoping for the best and planning for the worst.”

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London synagogue installs bulletproof entrance

West London Synagogue has installed a bulletproof entrance amid security concerns.

The entrance will now allow only one door to be open at a time, allowing security to identity and investigate visitors more thoroughly. Shabbat locks were also installed.

The steel-reinforced entrance was installed by a security company which said: “With the increasing threat of terror from around the world, synagogues need to take security more seriously than before.”

West London Synagogue was established in 1840. It is the oldest prayer space affiliated with the Movement for Reform Judaism.

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Molotov cocktail attack on synagogue in Germany “not antisemitic”, court retrial maintains

Two of the three people who firebombed a synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany in 2014 have been retried. Two men and one youth attacked the synagogue with Molotov cocktails in July 2014, claiming they were drunk following Ramadan. The three men live in Wuppertal but are said to originate from Gaza and Judea and Samaria.

The original trial, which took place in early 2015, provoked outrage from the Jewish community due to its leniency and verdict. The judge ruled that the attack was not motivated by antisemitism but was rather an act of “protest against the war in Gaza”. He issued the attackers a fine of €800.

The retrial has resulted in the two men, now 25 and 30 years old, merely receiving suspended prison sentences of 2 years and 1 year, 11 months, respectively, meaning that neither will go to prison unless they commit further offences. The youth is awaiting retrial in February, and will stand before a young offenders court.

Once again, the judge declined to declare this an antisemitic attack.

Source: Jüdische Allgemeine

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Antisemitic stranger carrying a knife caught by chance outside Toronto synagogue

On Saturday at the synagogue at the Bernard Betel Centre in Toronto, a man wearing a swastika was found to be acting suspiciously and carrying a knife.

A woman on her way out of the centre saw a man carrying two large bags. She approached him and asked what his business was at the centre, at which point he hurled a book at her. The woman sounded the alarm and the man was surrounded by congregants.

One congregant noticed that the man, described as being in his sixties and of European origin, was wearing a swastika pin on his shirt. When challenged, he claimed that he was wearing it not to support Nazism but in support of socialism. He added that he came to the community centre to get money, and that the “rich Jews” want others to be poor.

Police arrived after thirty minutes at which point the man was searched and found to be in possession of a knife and a toy gun. The action taken by the police remains unclear, but it has been reported that the man will probably be taken for psychiatric evaluation.

Source: CFCA/CIJ News

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Jewish wind farm developer in Vermont warned “You think no one knows you’re a Jew”

Police in Vermont are investigating an antisemitic voicemail left for a Jewish employee of a wind power firm. The anonymous message, left on the employee’s voicemail at the office of Iberdrola Renewables, says:

“You [name removed] are a Jew and you cannot wait to drive 28 stakes through a town full of free, white Christian men with guns, and unfortunately the way to attract free, white Christian men with guns to you is to try and take their homes. So, why don’t you go to Palestine [name removed] where you can shoot the feet of Palestinian soccer players, you can burn babies alive, you can rape Russian sex slaves and really overtly enjoy yourself rather than this covert activity in Vermont where you think no one knows you’re a Jew because you’re going to find out that they do. Bye-bye.”

The one-minute voicemail was left by a female caller on 27th October 2015, shortly after a public consultation meeting about Iberdrola’s proposed 28-turbine wind project, which if built, would be the largest in the state.

The Iberdrola employee discovered the message and reported it to the police, but they refused to act because the woman did not threaten her victim with violence leading the company’s lawyer to file a formal complaint.

Source: VT Digger

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Australian councillor suggests Jews are targeted because they “draw attention to themselves”

Oscar Lobo, a local councillor in Glen Eira, Australia, is reported to have claimed that Jewish people in Melbourne make themselves targets of attack by drawing attention to themselves.

During a debate about public security, discussing the issue of armed guards at Jewish public events, Lobo remarked, “Maybe people in that community wouldn’t have to worry about being attacked if they didn’t draw attention to themselves.”

The remark caused uproar and several colleagues condemned the statement as antisemitic. Amid calls to stand down and apologise, Lobo retracted his remark but failed to issue an apology. Instead, he reinforced his position a few days later, stating, “What I said was that they [Jewish people in Melbourne] were well protected by the Government and that all this extra security would only draw more attention to themselves.”

Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich has called on Lobo to “unreservedly apologise for his thoughtless and hurtful words.” Lobo has not responded.

Source: Herald Sun

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Jewish man hears spectators at imam’s trial threatening to kill him but court guards refuse to help

Last month it was reported that a Jewish man, who was attending the public hearing against Imam Abdallah I in Berlin, Germany, was called a “Jewish pig” by another member of the public during the hearing.

Reports have now emerged that the victim responded by remarking, “Shut up, you terrorist”. Following this response, the attacker and his group spoke amongst themselves in Arabic. The Jewish man was able to make out some words, including “kill” and “outside”.

The victim attempted to alert the judge, who did not react. He was then told by guards to stop disrupting the proceedings. This spurred on the attackers, who began kicking his chair. The victim left the courtroom in fear and approached two court security guards who told him, “If you’re scared, go to the police.”

The victim told Die Welt that he has not reported the incident to the police, as they have been unresponsive to a past attack he reported. Two months ago, he was verbally abused and spat at by a gang while travelling the Berlin underground system. This is the fourth such attack he has experienced in Germany and he reported the case to the police. The police advised him they would watch security camera footage and contact him. He did not hear from them again.

Source: Die Welt

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Only Jewish school in Scotland forced to hire security guard

Scotland’s only Jewish faith school is to employ a full-time security guard in response to parents’ concerns for pupils’ safety.

Police and council officials put Calderwood Lodge Primary School in Glasgow on high alert after last January’s terrorist attacks in Paris, and the school felt targeted when anti-Israel stickers began appearing on nearby lampposts.

Tim Lovatt, from the school’s parent council, said: “We held a parent forum meeting to ask for a mandate to ask the council for the security guard and there was overwhelming support to have security. You can’t protect your children enough.”

Funding for security guards at Jewish schools in England and Wales was introduced in 2010. In March prime minister David Cameron announced an extra £11m, including £7m is for guards outside more than 100 Jewish schools and £3m for protecting synagogues.

Two thirds of the antisemitic incidents recorded in Scotland last year took place in Glasgow. A recent poll suggested that 64 percent of Scottish Jews had “witnessed or experienced more antisemitism than in previous years”.

Although Calderwood Lodge is a Jewish faith school with a curriculum including Hebrew and Jewish culture, many of its 150 pupils are Muslim, Christian or have no religion.

An East Renfrewshire council spokeswoman said: “Following feedback from parents and the release of additional funding from the UK Government, it has been agreed that a security guard will be employed at Calderwood Lodge to support the school’s existing security procedures. The funding from the government is in place to support existing security measures at Jewish schools and organisations across the UK. There have not been any security threats at Calderwood Lodge or in the local community. This decision has been taken as a result of parental feedback and takes advantage of the additional funding available.”

Earlier this month it was reported that Jewish students in Scotland were afraid to reveal their Jewish identity.

Source: The National

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Jewish community in Malmö, Sweden launches emergency appeal for security funds

The Jewish community in Malmö, Sweden, has launched an emergency appeal for funds to secure the home of Shneur Kesselman, the last remaining rabbi in the city, which is home to some 1,500 Jews. The rabbi and his family have been targeted hundreds of times. Incidents have included being pelted with bottles and being chased down by cars, forcing the rabbi to run for his life. In spite of the danger he faces in this supposedly-tolerant European city, where antisemitic incidents are a constant occurrence, Rabbi Kesselman is determined to stay to minister to his community.

The community of Malmö and Chabad Lubavitch have launched an emergency appeal for funds to relocate Rabbi Kesselman and his family closer to the synagogue and to secure their family home. For the next four hours, a group of donors has agreed to match every donation to the emergency fund. Donations can be made here.