Anti-Semitism in Europe was for nearly two millennia a Christian phenomenon; now it is basically a Muslim one.
That is the basic message of an officially-commissioned study by the European Union (EU) which became notorious in recent weeks when the EU itself quashed the 104-page draft version. The Financial Times, which broke this story, reported that it did so "because the study concluded Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups were behind many of the incidents it examined." This focus on Muslim and pro-Palestinian perpetrators, the Financial Times went on, "was judged inflammatory."
One person familiar with the draft study concluded that "The decision not to publish was a political decision." But beyond the politics of this dispute, the draft study – titled "Manifestations of anti-Semitism in the European Union" and now released by the EU itself, though with a disclaimer – confirms the historic change in the locus of anti-Jewish sentiments and actions.
Focusing on a sample monitoring period one month in duration (May 15-June 15, 2002), the study hammers home the key role of Muslims in forwarding anti-Semitism:
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.
The problem includes violent attacks:
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.
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.
In many instances, this aggression is connected to anti-Zionism:
The threatening nature of the situation, in particular for the Jewish communities, arose because in most of the countries monitored the increasing number of anti-Semitic attacks, committed frequently by young Arabs/Muslims and by far-right extremists, was accompanied by a sharp criticism of Israeli politics across the entire political spectrum, a criticism that in some cases employed anti-Semitic stereotypes.
Of the EU's then-15 member states, four stand out for their deeper problems:
A group of countries was identified with rather severe anti-Semitic incidents. Here, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK have to be mentioned. They witnessed numerous physical attacks and insults directed against Jews and vandalism of Jewish institutions (synagogues, shops, cemeteries). In these countries the violent attacks on Jews and/or synagogues were reported to be committed often by members of the Muslim-Arab minority, frequently youths.
The report recognizes what a major shift this entails:
That anti-Semitic offenders in some cases are drawn from Muslim minorities in Europe – whether they be radical Islamist groups or young males of North African descent – is certainly a new development for most [EU] Member States, one that offers reason for concern for European governments and also the great majority of its citizens.
This study and its attempted suppression point to two important facts: the unpleasant reality that exists on the streets of Europe and the EU's deep reluctance to face that reality.
Neither of these facts is new; this author wrote back in 1992 that for world Jewry, "Muslim anti-Semitism is an increasing problem, and in large part this has to do with the ever-growing population of Muslims in the West;" and the EU's unwillingness to confront the pattern of anti-Jewish hostility emerging from Muslim religious, media, and educational institutions is also decades old.
Unless Europeans find the strength forthrightly to address this problem – and all indicators suggest that is unlikely – there is reason to expect a general Jewish exodus from Europe, perhaps along the lines of the general Jewish exodus from Muslim countries a half century ago.
March 12, 2004 update: B'nai Brith Canada reports in its annual "audit" of anti-Semitic incidents that a "small minority" of angry young Arabs and Muslims are behind a rising number of incidents, reports the Montreal Gazette today.
B'nai Brith's League for Human Rights took the unprecedented step of naming Arabs and Muslims generally as perpetrators of incidents. "We've been able to identify 30 probable Arab perpetrators of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada in 2003," said Stephen Scheinberg, a Concordia University history professor who is the League's national chairperson.
"We're not saying all Arabs and Muslims are implicated, not at all," he told reporters at a Montreal news conference. But we are saying a small minority have brought these ideas with them" from the Arab world, he added, and "have been worked up" and "propagandized" by what they hear in Internet chat rooms and on Al-Jazeera broadcasts.
"And it's caused some real problems for the Jewish communities," Scheinberg said. He described the anti-Semites as "angry young Arabs and Muslims" whose behaviour suggests "there are some problems now with assimilating immigrants to the Canadian way of life."
Canadians thus join Europeans in noticing this pattern. Will Americans follow?
April 1, 2004 update: The European Union's Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), which commissioned and shelved the above report identifying most perpetrators of anti-Semitic acts as "right-wing extremists or radical Islamists or young Muslims mostly of Arab descent," came out yesterday with a more detailed report. It has two parts: Manifestations of Antisemitism in the EU 2002-2003, which looks at what has taken place, and Perceptions of Antisemitism in the European Union, which consists of interviews with Jews. that reiterates and extends this point. In hundreds of passages, it points specifically to the "immigrant," "North African," "Arab," and "Muslim" sources of antisemitic violence.
But who has time to read a nearly 400-page, statistic-laden study? Beate Winkler, director of the EUMC, provided a brief version to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Most of it accurately represents the full study, but not so her three-sentence summary of the identity of those carrying out antisemitic activities. In widely quoted words, she stated that,
Although it is not easy to generalize, the largest group [of perpetrators] appears to be young, disaffected white European, often stimulated by extreme right wing groups. A further source of antisemitism in some countries was young people of North African Muslim extraction. Traditionally, antisemitic groups on the extreme right played a part in stirring up opinion.
As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard bluntly puts it in the Daily Telegraph, Winkler's findings "contradict" the contents of the report she supposedly presented to parliament. Worse, Evans-Pritchard quotes Victor Weitzel, co-author of the Jewish perceptions report, who said that the EU authorities consistently massaged his findings to play down the role of North African youth. "The European Union seems incapable of facing up to the truth on this. Everything is being tilted to ensure nice soft conclusions." For example, when Weitzel recommended monitoring inflammatory language in Europe's Arab press, this was changed to the "minority press."
This is typical of the way Europe confronts its problems concerning Islam and Muslims – by convincing itself they don't exist.