TAU study says a direct link found between Operation Cast Lead and upsurge in anti-Semitic acts in Europe during early 2009.
There was a significant drop in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2010 compared to 2009, according to a study released on Sunday.
Titled “Anti-Semitism Worldwide 2010,” the study cites a 46 percent drop in major incidents of physical violence, threats, and major acts of vandalism, down from 1,129 in 2009 to 614 in 2010.
Nonetheless, the study, which was compiled by Tel Aviv University’s Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism and the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, said that 2010’s total of anti- Semitic incidents is still the third-highest since efforts to record such statistics first began in the 1980s.
The report draws a direct link between the high level of anti-Semitic incidents in 2009, a peak year for such events, and the IDF’s offensive against Hamas in January 2009.
“It should be recalled that 2009 was an extraordinary year in terms of numbers of anti-Semitic incidents, primarily due to Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s war in Gaza which, especially in the first months of the year, provoked unprecedented anti-Jewish activity worldwide,” the report, timed to coincide with Holocaust Remembrance Day, stated.
“Since Jews and Israelis are often conflated into a single collective, events in the Middle East often provoke anti- Jewish groups and individuals into perpetrating hostile activities against local Jews.”
The report mentions that while world opinion was largely against Israel for the 2010 raid on the Gaza protest flotilla that left nine Turkish citizens dead on the Mavi Marmara, the event did not lead to a marked upswing in anti-Semitic acts like Cast Lead did, largely because the confrontation was short-lived and included a relatively small number of casualties.
European Jewish Congress President, Dr. Moshe Kantor said, upon release of the report Sunday morning at the university, that “if one were to remove the spike resulting from Operation Cast Lead from the 2009 report then the 2010 report demonstrates many similarities in terms of numbers and types of anti- Semitic attacks as previous years.”
He added that such figures show that “anti-Semitism has not decreased in a noticeable fashion across the European continent. On the contrary, the reduction is minimal compared to the massive rise that has taken place over the previous two decades.”
The European Jewish Congress president criticized what he called the rise of “respectable anti-Semitism,” which he described as anti- Semitic statements and accusations “made by prominent and respectable officials whose words are heard by millions on TV screens and the radio, in newspapers and books and on the Internet,” as opposed to anti-Semitic remarks that emerge from the margins of European society.
The study found that the highest number of violent incidents in 2010 took place in the UK, France and Canada, representing around 60% of incidents worldwide. While the study found that in France there was a 44% drop in all types of anti-Semitic incidents, there was an increase in the number of violent street attacks against French Jews, from 37 in 2009 to 57 in 2010.
The report also states that 2010 saw a decline in violent anti-Semitic incidents in the countries of the former Soviet Union, especially in Russia.
The report says that the majority of racist attacks in these countries were directed at foreign workers, mainly from Central Asia and the Caucasus.
At the same time, the report says that the second half of 2009 saw an increase in attacks on Jewish sites in Latin America, which it says could be linked to the raid on the Gaza flotilla. Such activity was “particularly evident” in Chile, home of the world’s fourth largest Palestinian diaspora.
Anti-Semitic allegations also rose during the same time in Venezuela, where the report says “anti-Semitic allegations are an integral part of the extreme anti-Israel propaganda of governmental and pro- Chavez circles.”
The report says that recent years have seen “the continued strengthening of extreme right and populist parties in Europe,” though it concludes that such parties devote their campaigns mainly against Muslims and Roma, and not towards Jews.