E.U. Anti-Semitism Report “Too Little, Too Late”

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The European Jewish Congress says today’s E.U. report on anti-Semitism is “too little, too late.” In a news release, the ECJ had this to say:

In a FRA press release today, the linkage between anti-Semitism and the situation in the Middle-East was acknowledged, as was the current rise in reported incidents during the Israel defensive actions in Gaza. The report does not however make any conclusions as to the impact of political situations in the Middle East on different groups commonly identified as being anti-Semitic, citing “paucity of data.” It also states that the relationship between anti-Semitism in political and media discourses and incidents on the ground directed against Jews cannot be proven because of a lack of “systematic research.”

Actually, the report does note that heightened anti-Semitism does “directly reflect periods of heightened conflict in the Middle East,” with particular reference to spikes in 2002 and 2004. However, data collection in France — a country of major concern to Jewish leaders — improved in 2004, which could account for the jump that year. Because the report doesn’t include numbers from 2008, it has relatively little to say about the recent Gaza conflict.

As far as conclusions go, the report is pretty parve. It is mainly a dispassionate catalogue of anti-Semitic incidents in 20 European nations, including both official and unofficial statistics, which the report notes are virtually meaningless since the collection methods vary widely from country to country. With the exception of France, Germany and Sweden, no European nation collects data sufficient to draw substantial conclusions about trends. For the remainder of the continent, however, the report says a “paucity of data” makes conclusions only “speculative.” Nevertheless, the report does offer this, which will likely do little to allay Jewish concerns:

A clear distinction must also be made between anti-Semitism in political and media discourses and incidents on the ground directed against Jews. There is no systematic research so far showing the relationship between these two strands. Therefore, the motivation of perpetrators and the relationship between their acts and anti-Semitic attitudes and ideology remains under-researched and unclear. Further national and transnational comparative research is necessary in order to establish causal links between the formation of anti-Semitic attitudes and related anti-Semitic behavioural patterns by specific population groups.

Anti-Semitic activity after 2000 is increasingly attributed to a “new anti- Semitism”, characterised primarily by the vilification of Israel as the “Jewish collective” and perpetrated primarily by members of Europe’s Muslim population. The available research dealing with the perception of Jews within the EU indicates that there is little evidence showing changes in the traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes. However, manifestations of anti- Semitism in politics, media, and everyday life, have indeed changed in recent years, especially since the start of the “al-Aqsa Intifada” in 2000.