The annual report by the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism (CFCA) was presented to the Israeli parliament during the Sunday morning cabinet meeting this week. Education Minister Naftali Bennett, together with Ministry of Diaspora Affairs Director General Dvir Kahana, presented the Present Situation and Tendencies report for 2015.
According to the report, emerging trends include the spread of radical Islam, boycott calls against Israel, the rise of the extreme right in Europe, and the worsening refugee crisis. All these and more negatively impact Jewish life in the diaspora.
The report states, “Although full data for 2015 have not yet been published, it is possible to see that in 2015 the trend of escalation of violent anti-Semitism activity has continued”, with radical Islam taking the lead. According to Israel National News, which reported on the presentation, Bennett explained that Islamic anti-Semitism stems from home-grown European Muslims and is not necessarily imported by radical refugees. The report also cited an increase in the number of attacks by Muslims against Jewish targets in 2015.
The report called social networks “the central medium of arousal of hatred against Jews”, saying limitless anti-Semitic materials can be found there.
The delegitimization and demonization of Israel continues in all forms, spreading an underlying message of anti-Semitism. Examples of this include the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which advocates boycotting Jewish events unrelated to Israel as a means of protesting perceived human rights violations in the Jewish State.
While not directly linked with anti-Semitism, the CFCA expressed concern that the worsening refugee crisis is fomenting xenophobia and leading to the ascendency of the extreme right wing, two factors which could induce further anti-Semitism.
Meanwhile, the extreme left continues to equate Jews with “cosmopolitan elite and world capitalism, against which they are fighting. Israel is a colonial state that oppresses and uproots the native population, and is one of the strings pullers of the global financial system.”
Frighteningly, the report noted that while “Anti Semitism was not born among the Muslims of Europe…the rise of Muslim anti-Semitism is responsible for the fresh change in the tone of hatred worldwide. Until recently, antisemitism was largely half-hidden and anonymous. Today, anti-Semitism is not hiding and not anonymous. Today, [antisemites] can lift their heads openly, selling their wares in the streets under the guise of ‘legitimate criticism’ against Israel.”
Bennett spoke specifically about the dangers faced by European Jews today, noting as well that modern anti-Semitism appears in a different guise than in years before. “Anti-Semitism quietly seeks to find a safe place in buildings of the institutions under the roofs of organizations dealing with alleged human rights, and there is aggravated incitement and hatred.
“The Ministry of Diaspora holds the utmost importance with dealing with the struggle against anti-Semitism,” he added, “as an integral part of mutual responsibility between Israel and the Diaspora. We will continue to eradicate illiteracy, return confidence to communities, and ensure Jewish life in the Diaspora can fully thrive.”
Kahana added, “The ministry headquarters built a multi-year strategic plan to combat anti-Semitism, shared by relevant government agencies. The program this year will include efforts focused on reducing incitement on the Internet, providing a policy tool for governments and organizations to combat the phenomenon, and assist communities that are under threat and those affected by anti-Semitism.”
Not everything in the report is dismal, however. The CFCA notes that as anti-Semitism around the world increases, so do official efforts to combat it: “In most Western countries a policy of zero tolerance for anti-Semitism is practiced. Most of the cases in which the perpetrators to anti-Semitism are exposed, are treated harshly.”