Ahead of International Holocaust Day – Jews less secure worldwide in 2013, says gov’t report

Ahead of International Holocaust Day, Israel warns of social media-based ‘new anti-Semitism’ hiding behind anti-Zionist mask.

A young man displays the quenelle in front of the main gate of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

A young man displays the quenelle in front of the main gate of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

The Times of Israel (Jan 26) — A day ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday released the government’s annual report on anti-Semitism. Overall, the report pointed to a deterioration in the security situation of Jews around the world, amid widening concerns about anti-Semitism.

The report combined the results of polls conducted in 2013 on anti-Semitism in Europe to paint a gloomy picture of a Jewish community in that continent that felt more intimidated than ever, even though the fact that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe did not rise in 2013.

The report also tracked developments that had a negative impact on Jewish life in a number of countries around the world — from a Chilean senator’s accusation that plainclothes Israeli soldiers were “mapping out” his country to the growing persecution of Jews in the Middle East, particularly in Yemen.

“There are those who, at first glance, will find in the annual report causes for optimism,” read the introduction written by Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein. “Unlike 2012, 2013 did not see a rise in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide. However, the truth is that the situation has only deteriorated — and significantly,” he said.

Edelstein wrote that while 2013 would not be remembered for high-profile anti-Semitic incidents, such as the shooting attack that shook the French city of Toulouse in 2012, it would be remembered as “the year in which the anti-Semitic atmosphere came to dominate the lives of Jews around the world, particularly in Europe.”

Citing a September poll by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, the report noted that almost a quarter of European Jews avoid visiting places and wearing symbols that identify them as Jews for fear of anti-Semitism, and that nearly three-fourths of the Jews polled – 91 percent in Hungary – feel anti-Semitism has increased in the past five years.

That poll also revealed that nearly a quarter of European Jews don’t visit Jewish institutions or attend Jewish functions for fear of being attacked en route, one-third fear falling victim to anti-Semitic attacks, and slightly less than a third are considering emigration.

Two-thirds said they see anti-Semitism as a problem that significantly and continuously impacts their lives.

In Hungary, where the radical nationalist Jobbik party has made significant inroads, the threat was perceived as stemming from the far right, whereas in France and Belgium from radical Islam.

Also noted in the new report was that some 19,200 Jews made aliyah (the Hebrew term for immigrating to Israel) in 2013, a slight rise over the 18,940 who immigrated in 2012, according to the Jewish Agency. Immigration from France and other Western European countries was up dramatically in 2013, but immigration from the US was down.

The statistic that the Israeli government found most worrying was that “most Jews have reconciled themselves to anti-Semitism to the point that 77 percent of European Jews don’t report anti-Semitic incidents to any organization, Jewish, governmental or otherwise,” due to a deep-seated belief that the complaints won’t be addressed.

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