Monday, November 8, 2010

(BLOG) Antisemitism In Europe

"By Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury: While the Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israel campaigns are continuing in most of the Muslim nation with financial support from various governmental and non-governmental sources, there are specific allegations of similar activities in Europe.

In Muslim nations, such funds mostly come under the garb of mosque or madrassa projects, ending in either financing or establishing groups and media outlets with the aim of continuing Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israel activity. Arab donors prefer establishing a base in their targeted countries, initially either by building a mosque or a madrassa [religious school], which are later used to drain hidden funds marked for fueling these activities.

In Bangladesh, for example, the Iranian cultural center spends more than US $3 million every year in funding such activities, including publication of its own 'Newsletter,' containing anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic contents. Iranians also spend significant amount of money continuing the activities of the Al Qud's Society in organizing rallies, seminars or publishing posters mostly against Israel and United States.

There is also recent information about British taxpayers' money being used for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic narratives. A British taxpayer watchdog group, the Taxpayers' Alliance,

unveiled two reports during February 2010 detailing the role of European foreign aid in the transmission of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic narratives in Palestinian Authority schools and media in Jerusalem.

The reports, 'Palestinian Hate Education since Annapolis' and 'Funding Hate Education,' detail what the Taxpayers' Alliance refers to as a campaign of 'demonizing Israel,' largely funded by European taxpayers; a policy which it says diminishes long-term hopes for peace.

Anti-Semitism in Sweden:

Sweden has a relatively small Jewish community of around 20,000.

Jews have been permitted to immigrate to Sweden since the late 18th century, at first only to Stockholm, Goteborg and Norrkoping; but this restriction was removed in 1854. In 1870 Jews received full citizens' rights and the first Jewish members of parliament, Aron Philipson and Moritz Rubenson, were elected in 1873. However Swedish non-Protestants, most of which were Catholics and Jews, were still not allowed to teach the subject of Christianity in public schools or to be government ministers; these restrictions were removed in 1951. Yiddish has legal status as one of the country's official minority languages.

There have, however, been a number of anti-Semitic incidents in recent years; and Sweden has the highest rate of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe after Germany and Austria, although in so me years the Netherlands reports a higher rate of anti-Semitism.

A government study in 2006 estimated that 15% of Swedes agree with the statement: 'The Jews have too much influence in the world today.' 5% of the entire adult population, and 39% of the Muslim population, harbor strong and consistent anti-Semitic views. Former Prime Minister Göran Persson described these results as 'surprising and terrifying.' However, the Rabbi of Stockholm's Orthodox Jewish community, Meir Horden claimed that 'It is not true to say that the Swedes are anti-Semitic. Some of them are hostile to Israel because they support the weak side, which they perceive to be the Palestinians.'

In early 2010, the Swedish publication The Local published series of articles about the growing anti-Semitism in Malmo, Sweden. In an interview in January 2010, Fredrik Sieradzki of the Jewish Community of Malmö stated that 'Threats against Jews have increased steadily in Malmö in recent years, and many young Jewish families are choosing to leave the city. Many feel that the community and local politicians have shown a lack of understanding for how the city's Jewish residents have been marginalized.' He also added that 'right now many Jews in Malmö are really concerned about the situation here and do not believe they have a future here.' The Local also reported that Jewish cemeteries and synagogues have repeatedly been defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti, and that a chapel at another Jewish burial site in Malmö was firebombed in 2009.

Ilmar Reepalu, Malmo's mayor, has denied that there have, been any attacks on Jews in the city, despite police figures showing that violent incidents against Jews have doubled over the last year. In January, when asked to explain why Jewish religious services often require security guards and even police protection, Reepalu claimed that the violence directed toward Malmö's Jewish community is from right-wing extremists, and not Muslims.'

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph in February 2010, Reepalu again denied that there has been any violence directed at Jews in Malmo. When asked about this, and the increasing numbers of Jews reportedly leaving Malmo for Israel, Reepalu replied:

'There have not been any attacks on Jewish people, and if Jews from the city want to move to Israel,' he said, 'that is not a matter for Malmö.'

Reepalu's statements have been sharply criticized by Sieradzk, who argued that 'More often it is the far-left that commonly use Jews as a punching bag for their disdain toward the policies of Israel, even if Jews in Malmö have nothing to do with Israeli politics.'

Reepalu's comments have also drawn criticism from the Swedish politician Mona Sahlin, who described his comments as 'unfortunate.' Reepalu later conceded that he has not been sufficiently well informed about the vulnerable situation faced by Jews after meeting with community leaders. However, the local newspaper Skånska Dagbladet published on its website statements made by Reepalu after he claimed that his words were simply misinterpreted.

In March 2010, Fredrik Sieradzk of the Jewish community in Malmo, Sweden, told Die Presse, an Austrian Internet publication, that Jews are being 'harassed and physically attacked' by 'people from the Middle East,' although he added that only a small number of Malmo's 40,000 Muslims 'exhibit hatred of Jews.' Sieradzk also stated that approximately 30 Jewish families have emigrated from Malmo to Israel in the past year, specifically to escape from harassment. Also, in March, the Swedish newspaper Skånska Dagbladet reported that attacks on Jews in Malmo totaled 79 in 2009, about twice as many, according to police statistics, as the previous year." (source)

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