- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 7, 2003

Anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise in Western Europe amid fears that widespread antipathy toward Israel is being translated into rage against Jews in general, according to a study by Europe’s leading Jewish organization.

The conflict in the Middle East is deeply dividing Europeans, analysts say, leading to increasingly frequent confrontations between Jewish and non-Jewish communities.

“Assaults [on Jews] happen so often that they are often not reported in the newspapers any more,” Paul Spiegel, the chairman of the German Jewish Committee, complained at a groundbreaking ceremony for a Jewish center in Munich last month.

Europe is internalizing the global conflict in the Middle East, argued German sociologist Ulrich Beck in a recent editorial for the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is openly fought outside, is being transferred to the inside [of Europe] and threatens the peaceful balance between Jews and non-Jews,” he said.

France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain are especially vulnerable, followed by Germany and Italy, according to a draft study by the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia.

The study was withheld for a year, since the European Union claimed analytical shortcomings of the report.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in an interview published recently that EU governments were not doing enough to tackle anti-Semitism because of an “ever-stronger Muslim presence in Europe.”

“These days, to conduct an anti-Semite policy is not a popular thing, so the anti-Semites bundle their policies in with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he told EUpolitix.com, an online news agency dedicated to EU affairs.

Germany and France both reported major incidents in recent weeks.

Vandals carved swastikas onto tombstones at a Jewish cemetery in southern France last month in what Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said was a “hateful manifestation of anti-Semitism” just days after a private Jewish school outside Paris was attacked.

In Germany, a member of parliament, Martin Hohmann, described Jews as a “race of perpetrators” for their supposed crimes in the 1917 Russian Revolution.

Although Mr. Hohmann was later expelled from his party, the opposition Christian Democratic Union, for his remarks, many think the action was only taken under severe pressure from the Jewish community.

During last year’s German parliamentary election campaign, lawmaker Juergen Moellemann tried to win votes for his pro-business Free Democratic Party by using anti-Semitic rhetoric. He claimed at the time that he merely was criticizing Israel’s policies.

His party only reluctantly condemned his remarks, and his political career continued.

According to the German weekly Die Zeit, this reluctance has not helped the Jewish community. On the contrary, the “anti-Jewish conspiracy” was strengthened.

The European Council concluded in a study published in May that after September 11, 2001, the number of anti-Semitic publications and assaults on Jewish communities has increased.

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