Tel Aviv, Israel, 20 April 2009 – As the Durban II anti-racism conference convenes, and on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day (April 21), the European Jewish Congress and Tel Aviv University jointly released surprising new survey findings regarding the state of anti-Semitism worldwide.
According to the survey, anti-Semitism rose in major Western countries throughout 2008, particularly in Germany, Switzerland and Canada, and spiked dramatically in early 2009. The survey also found that without any outside triggers, anti-Semitism remained at high levels even before the onset of the economic crisis or the Israel offensive in Gaza. What’s more, despite efforts at Holocaust education around the world, anti-Semitic perceptions prevailed and the exploitation of Holocaust metaphors and symbols of the Nazi era rose steadily.
The survey also found that synagogues, cemeteries and Holocaust memorials were desecrated in 2008 on a weekly, sometimes even daily basis in many European countries. After dozens of violent incidents, Jewish children increasingly fear being attacked on their way to school or synagogue and need special protection in most European capitals.
Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, the umbrella organization for Jewish communities in Europe, noted the worrisome foothold that anti-Semitism has gained around the world. “On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day and the beginning of the Durban II conference, the survey results underscore the dangers of rising global anti-Semitism and the cynical use of Jews and the Jewish State as convenient scapegoats for the world’s ills.
“The Durban II conference is a snapshot of the world at large. It is taking place against the backdrop of a global rise in anti-Semitism fueled by the economic crisis. The hate expressed towards Israel and the Jewish people is stoking the embers of long-simmering anti-Semitic canards and Jewish blood libel.”
Putting countries that openly espouse anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism at the helm of a conference ostensibly devoted to combating racism is troubling and beyond hypocritical.”
Kantor noted, “It is only fitting then that Iran’s leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one of the world’s foremost deniers of the Holocaust and a sponsor of international terror will be participating in the Durban conference. Just yesterday, Ahmadinejad charged that, ‘Zionists seek to take control of the world’s political and media centers in order to loot and belittle nations.’ Such statements bring to the surface old anti-Semitic notions of Jewish control of the world economy. The countries participating in this abomination should be ashamed.”
The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University, in cooperation with the European Jewish Congress, highlighted the Institute’s new findings from their annual survey of anti-Semitism at a press conference on the campus of Tel Aviv University. The survey covered 2008 and the first months of 2009.