Violence against Israel advocate during IAW

Israel Apartheid Week is an unconvincing masquerade of an annual Palestine solidarity event which aims to indoctrinate students against Israel. It is known for violence and threats against Jews and Israelis on campuses, and a growing number of voices are calling it part of the problem.

The Jewish Chronicle reports that a member of Stand With Us was physically attacked as he challenged the delegitimation of Israel at a public event.

No less worrying was the reported victim-blaming reaction of SOAS’ student union president and security guards:

“There was a struggle and the university security guards came out. A number of other people then began to say we shouldn’t be there. The president of the union came out and said we had made our point. A policeman strongly advised us to leave.”

Ro’i Goldman, who plans to study in the UK next year, said he was very shocked by the experience. But Tony Coren said he was not shocked, but was angry that the university authorities had indicated that by their very presence, the protesters had possibly provoked the attack. The alleged victim, whose name the JC is withholding for community security reasons, was taken to University College Hospital..”

You see Hanzala a lot at these events – I’m picturing him watching the Israel advocate get bitten, wishing Palestinians had better advocates.

In Canada, where the atmosphere around IAW has been fraught, University of Winnipeg President Lloyd Axworthy has responded with a programme of events and activities to give the Israel-Palestine conflict “a full and fair hearing as opposed to a one-sided hearing”:

“We felt the most effective way to respond to Israel Apartheid Week was to organize a series of opportunities in March for Arab-Jewish dialogue [that is] respectful, more open and fair” and promotes a greater understanding of the issues involved.”

That’s what university campuses are for.

Update: more at Harry’s Place.

BBC World Service Documentary on Contemporary Antisemitism

Part 1 is out now on iplayer and is well worth listening to – click here

With material from Malmo in Sweden, from Vilnius in Lithuania, from Anthony Julius, Howard Jacobson, Mark Gardner, David Hirsh, Brian Klug, Edie Friedman, Deborah Fink and Dovid Katz.

Broadcasts today at 16:32, and tomorrow, Thursday at 16:32, 00:32 and 0432

Montreal Jews face rise in antisemitic incidents

Via Bob, James Martin has a piece in Ha’aretz, :

Montreal Jews fear ‘gang atmosphere’ amid rise in anti-Semitic incidents

Quebec is the latest region to fall prey to Canada’s growing anti-Semitism, registering the largest rise in incidents in a city over the course of the year – 373 incidents in 2009, compared to 245 in 2008.

Many in Montreal’s Orthodox Jewish community say they are afraid to leave their homes, due to the “gang atmosphere” that has taken over their neighborhood amid renewed anti-Semitic activity.

The Chabad community in the city’s Côte des Neiges district has experienced a number of violent incidences against it over the past few weeks, including the mugging of a visibly pregnant woman.

In addition, swastikas have been sprayed in at least three locations in the Montreal suburb of Outremont – home to a large segment of Hasidic Jews who wear traditional garb.

According to B’nai Brith Canada, which compiles the country’s figures on anti-Semitic incidents, reports of vandalism targeting Jewish schools, synagogues and businesses have accelerated rate in the last month.

“Some community members now reportedly think twice before they leave their homes. The ongoing fear and intimidation suffered by our community is an unacceptable situation in a free and democratic society like Quebec,” a spokesperson for the Quebec branch of B’nai Brith said.

“There have also been and anti Semitic slurs in educational and workplace settings and web-based hate activity is also on the increase,” the spokesperson added.

In March, the Ahavas Yisroel Viznitz synagogue in Outremont was broken into and two swastikas were drawn inside the synagogue. Vandals also threw prayer shawls and holy books onto the floor.

The rabbi of the synagogue met with police following that incident, but the perpetrators have still not been found.

Rabbi Mendel Marasow, executive director of Beth Rivkah Academy in Côte des Neiges, told a local paper. “I live in the area and if I compare the situation now to five years ago there is a serious problem.

“There is a gang atmosphere, with tough individuals walking the streets. It is uncomfortable and unsafe out there. Is it anti Semitic? Listen, all I can say is that Jews make good targets.”

One local Jewish café owner who had a swastika painted on the sidewalk in front of his business said he was worried about the “media attention” being given to anti-Semitic incidents.

“The Jewish community in Outremont has been getting a lot of media attention,” he told the Jewish Tribune. “I don’t want to see these incidents get too much publicity because it is only going to stir things up more. I did not even report this. Someone else did.”

Quebec is the latest region to fall prey to Canada’s growing anti-Semitism, registering the largest rise in incidents in a city over the course of the year – 373 incidents in 2009, compared to 245 in 2008. The province holds 90,000 Jews – around a quarter of Canada’s Jewish community.

In total, 1,264 incidents were reported in Canada throughout 2009, representing a 12% increase over the 1,135 cases in 2008, and a more than five-fold increase in incidents over the past decade. Last year there were 884 cases of harassment, 348 of vandalism and a doubling from 2008 in the incidents of violence to 32.

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The anti-Semitic daubing seen in Montreal is nothing new in Canada. Calgary, Toronto, Oshawa, Woodstock, and Barrie have recently seen anti Semitic incidents including swastikas and slogans, such as “Kill Jews” and “six million more,” spray-painted on Jewish community property, community centers, Holocaust memorials, Jewish-owned residential property and vehicles.

B’nai Brith’s audit into anti Semitic incidents identified “anti-Israel agitators” fuelled by opposition to Operation Cast Lead as the trigger for the spike in attacks.

“Anti-Israel agitators, far-left-wing groups, and more recently Islamists, have latched onto Nazi motifs and age old anti-Jewish stereotypes, in an attempt to bolster their campaigns against the Jewish State, while the far-right-wing camp has eagerly embraced anti-Israel propaganda to give an updated appearance to its traditional hate material.”

According to Frank Dimant, Executive Vice President of B’nai Brith Canada, “Anti Semitism is a serious and ongoing problem here in Canada. We have encountered everything from harassment and vandalism to physical assaults on individuals. “
B’nai Birth’s community Anti-Hate Hotline is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, to provide assistance and consultation but the organization is apprehensive about whether they are investigated as hate crimes.
“We hope that the law enforcement officials across the nation investigate these crimes as hate-crimes from the outset – hesitation to designate as a hate crime is simply unacceptable. We also urge that these crimes are treated seriously, and that proper resources are dedicated to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice,” said Dimant.

Although vandalism causes on-going fear in the street, the theme of anti-Israel agitation has reached boiling point, particularly on Campuses. This came to a head three weeks ago after an alleged machete attack on pro-Israel students. Two Ottawa students, both well-known for their pro-Israel views, were assaulted when they left a local lounge in the early hours of the morning, by a large group of anti-Israel agitators, one of whom was wielding a machete.

The Jewish student, who along with his friend was called numerous derogatory and anti Semitic slurs during the assault, was a local organizer of B’nai Brith’s recent Imagine With Us pro-Israel campus initiative – an initiative which was banned by York University, a university which last year saw Jewish Hillel students verbally abused by an anti-Israel group while trying to convene a press conference.
Actions like this are leading to calls for a ban on anti-Israel campaigns on campus, such as those witnessed during Israel Apartheid Week.

Antisemitic incidents 2009, in pictures

A long and depressing YouTube slideshow of graffiti and vandalism against Jews, from the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism.

Via Modernity.

Yemen’s non-Zionist Jewish community driven out

This not so recent piece by Lyn Julius (who co-founded Harif, the association for Jews of the Middle East and North Africa) tells how the last Jews of Yemen have been harassed by jihadist gangs involved in a wider conflict.

The Yemeni government has ignored the vigorous campaigning of Yemeni human rights activists and has failed to protect its tiny Jewish community. Many of these Jews are descended from a community who declined to be airlifted by Israel in the 1950s because they were inclined toward the non-Zionist Satmar sect. Now most are packing their bags for the US and for Israel. Lyn Julius ends:

“The lesson one draws from the final exodus of the Jews of Yemen is that the Arab world does not even tolerate non-Zionist Jews. There can be no future for the pitiful remnant in Arab lands if their safety cannot be guaranteed.

In Morocco, where the Jewish community is largest, Jews traditionally repaid the king’s sympathy with tremendous loyalty. But the king of Morocco was unable or unwilling to prevent 260,000 Jews leaving in the face of rising antisemitism in the 1960s, media incitement and forced conversions.

Even benevolent rulers have been powerless to stem the rising tide of anti-Jewish hatred engulfing the Arab world. Few Arabs are now likely to meet a Jew in their lifetime, and the gullible believe the demonisation and conspiracy theories peddled by their media.

No wonder Jews have spurned official invitations for them to return to live in their countries of birth. Jews visit as tourists, but few see their future in these countries. In Tunisia and Morocco al-Qaida targeted Jews in 2002 and 2003. In April the murder of a Jew in Casablanca sent the community into a panic.In May, eight terrorists were arrested for planning attacks on Jewish sites.

If Morocco and Tunisia fail to keep a lid on jihadist terrorism and incitement, their last Jews, too, will soon be following the beleaguered Jews of Yemen into exile.”

That was June – last week Point of No Return directed readers to a Washington Post article indicating that the Yemeni security forces foiled an assassination attempt on a Jewish leader a fortnight ago.

Even where there are no Jews, antisemitism has its uses. In October Cairo hosted the 56th Congress of Liberal International, which includes delegations from the British Liberal Democrats, among many others. Two members of the Egyptian Union of Liberal Youth, Amr Bargisi and Samuel Tadros wrote, with examples, that “anti-Semitism remains the glue holding Egypt’s disparate political forces together”. The hosts, Egypts Al-Gabha, or Democratic Front Party (DFP), are implicated.

I came by these pieces via Middle East Pact, whose English-language site is sadly looking as neglected as the minority groups of the Middle East it is valiantly trying to help. I hope it manages to recover soon, because its cause is the cause of everyone who cares about peace in the Middle East.

JPR regains its senses.

Jonathan Boyd is acting director of JPR, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in London.

Read Jonathan’s piece “Antisemitism and the reported world” on CIF.

Antisemitic harassment in London

An Israeli family living in Edgware say they fear for their safety after being subjected to a campaign of antisemitic abuse by their neighbours.

Read the rest in the JC.

Jewish Center attacked in Venezuela

This piece is by Christopher Toothaker at AP.

Assailants threw an explosive at a Jewish community center on Thursday, but nobody was hurt in the blast — the second assault against Venezuela’s Jewish community this year.

Abraham Garzon, president of the Jewish Community Center, told the local Globovision television news channel that a small explosive resembling a pipe-bomb was lobbed at the building in Caracas before dawn on Thursday. The explosion damaged the doors to the center.

“It seems there are people in the country dedicated to sowing terrorism,” Garzon said.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, which immediately reignited fears of rising anti-Semitism in Venezuela.

It was the second attack against a Jewish institution this year.

A Caracas synagogue was ransacked and vandalized last month. The assailants shattered religious objects, spray-painted “Jews, get out” on the temple’s walls and stole a computer database containing names and addresses of Jews living in Venezuela.

Authorities have arrested 11 people, including eight police officers, suspected of participating in the attack. Investigators believe the assailants forced their way into the temple to steal a large amount of cash they believed was inside. The vandalism, authorities say, could have been aimed at turning attention away from the true motive behind the crime.

On Thursday, Sergio Widder of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center criticized Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for failing to take steps aimed at curbing anti-Semitism.

Chavez should strongly criticize pro-government Web sites and newspapers that have carried articles and columns that many Venezuelan Jews perceive as anti-Semitic, he said.

“This is outrageous, it’s turning into an escalation,” said Widder, the center’s representative for Latin America. “It’s the government’s responsibility to stop this.”

During Israel’s offensive in Gaza, Chavez fiercely criticized the Jewish state and ordered the Israeli ambassador out of Venezuela. Protests against the military incursion were held in Caracas and demonstrators hurled shoes at and sprayed graffiti on the Israeli embassy.

Chavez, who has repeatedly condemned the Jan. 30 attack on the synagogue, denies being anti-Semitic. The socialist leader says he simply opposes Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. He accuses the Israeli government of acting as an arm of Washington.

Venezuela’s Jewish community numbers nearly 15,000.

This piece is by Christopher Toothaker at AP.

via Z word

As British Jews come under attack, the liberal left must not remain silent

Jonathan Freedland

Jonathan Freedland

This piece, by Jonathan Freedland, is from Comment is Free

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on September 11 2001 and July 7 2005, a noble impulse seized the British liberal left. Politicians, commentators and activists united to say to their fellow citizens that, no matter how outraged they felt at the loss of civilian life they had just witnessed, they should under no circumstances take out that anger on the Muslim community. Progressive voices insisted that Muslims were not to be branded as guilty by association, just because the killers of 9/11 and 7/7 had been Muslims and had claimed to act in the name of all Muslims.

They urged Britons to be careful in their language, not to generalise from a few individuals to an entire community, to make clear to Britain’s Muslims that they were a welcome part of the national life. One week after the 7/7 London attacks, a vast crowd gathered in Trafalgar Square to hear a call for unity led by then mayor Ken Livingstone, who said Londoners should not start looking for “who to blame and who to hate”.

It was the right reaction and I am glad that, writing on these pages, I shared it, denouncing the surge in Islamophobia that greeted either a terrorist attack or the revelation of a terror plot. Yet there’s been a curious silence in the last few weeks. Once again many are outraged by the loss of civilian life they have witnessed – this time in Gaza. Yet there has been no chorus of liberal voices insisting that, no matter how intense their fury, people must not take out that anger on Britain’s Jewish community.

It’s worth stating the obvious – that Operation Cast Lead is not 9/11 or 7/7, that Israel is not al-Qaida – and noting that the silence has not been absolute. In a very welcome move, a group of leading Muslims wrote an open letter condemning apparent Gaza-related attacks on Jews. Meanwhile, Labour’s Denis MacShane, in a passionate article for Progress magazine, urged those on the left not “to turn criticism of Israel into a condemnation of Jews”.

Otherwise, it has been eerily quiet. Those who in 2001 or 2005 rapidly spoke out against guilt by association have been mute this time. Yet this is no abstract concern. For British Jews have indeed come under attack.

According to the Community Security Trust, the body that monitors anti-Jewish racism, the four weeks after Cast Lead began saw an eightfold increase in antisemitic incidents in Britain compared with the same period a year earlier. It reports 250 incidents – nearly 10 a day – the highest number since it began its work 25 years ago. Among them are attacks on synagogues, including arson, and physical assaults on Jews. One man was set upon in Golders Green, north London, by two men who shouted, “This is for Gaza”, as they punched and kicked him to the ground.

Blood-curding graffiti has appeared in Jewish areas across the country, slogans ranging from “Slay the Jewish pigs”, and “Kill the Jews”, to “Jewish bastardz.” Jewish schools have been advised to be on high alert against attack. Most now have security guards on the door; some have a police presence.

The threat is real, and yet barely a word has been heard from those who pride themselves on their vigilance against racism. But there is more than a sin of omission here.

Take last month’s demonstrations against Israel. Riazat Butt, the Guardian’s religious affairs correspondent, describes in a joint edition of the Guardian’s Islamophonic and Sounds Jewish podcasts how at one demo she heard the cry not only of “Down with Israel” but “Kill Jews”. An anti-war protest in Amsterdam witnessed chants of: “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.”

At the London events, there were multiple placards deploying what has now become a commonplace image: the Jewish Star of David equated with the swastika. From the podium George Galloway declared: “Today, the Palestinian people in Gaza are the new Warsaw ghetto, and those who are murdering them are the equivalent of those who murdered the Jews in Warsaw in 1943.”

Now what, do you imagine, is the effect of repeating, again and again, that Israel is a Nazi state? Even those with the scantest historical knowledge know that the Nazis are the embodiment of evil to which the only appropriate response is hate. How surprising is it if a young man, already appalled by events in Gaza, walks home from a demo and glimpses the Star of David – which he now sees as a latter-day swastika – outside a synagogue and decides to torch the building, or at least desecrate it? Yet Galloway, along with Livingstone, who was so careful in July 2005, did not hesitate to make the comparison (joined by a clutch of Jewish anti-Israel activists who should know better).

The counter-arguments here are predictable. Some will say they take pains to distinguish between Zionists and Jews. Intellectually, that’s fine; in the seminar room, it holds water. The trouble is, it doesn’t mean much on the street – at least not to the man who saw a group of Manchester Jews leaving synagogue on January 17 and shouted “Free Palestine, you motherfuckers,” before giving them the Nazi salute.

The liberal left should know this already. After all, when Jack Straw wrote his notorious piece about the hijab, full of qualifications, progressives understood that none of that would matter: it would be read as an attack on all Muslims. And so it was. For all Straw’s careful phrasing, Muslim women whose heads were covered were attacked. Liberals warned Straw that he was playing with fire. Today’s anti-Israel activists need to realise they are doing the same.

Besides, this business of distinguishing between good and bad Jews has a long history. Anthony Julius, author of a definitive study of English antisemitism, says that, with the exception of the Nazis, Jew-haters have always made distinctions. Christian antisemites accepted Jews who were ready to convert and rejected those who refused. A century ago, Winston Churchill drew a line between homegrown British Jews and those spreading Bolshevism. Now the dividing line is affinity for Israel.

But the logical corollary of this is that, if Jews refuse to dissociate themselves from Israel, then they are fair game for abuse and attack until they publicly recant. Liberals rightly recoil from the constant pressure on Muslims to explain themselves and denounce jihadism or even islamism. Yet they make the same implicit demand when they suggest Jews are OK, unless they are Zionists. The effect is to make Jews’ place in British society contingent on their distance from their fellow Jews, in this case, Israelis.

Nor is it good enough to say that most Jews support Israel. Yes, most have a strong affinity and family ties to the Jewish state. But that doesn’t mean they support every policy, including the one that led to such mayhem in Gaza. And do we think that those who kicked the man in Golders Green first stopped to ask his opinion of the merits of Cast Lead?

I know that some will say that even raising this is an attempt to divert attention from the real and larger issue, Israel’s brutality in Gaza and the colossal number of civilian deaths that entailed. I won’t accept that. Regular readers know that I denounced Cast Lead from the beginning. But I shouldn’t have to say that. These two matters are separate. It is perfectly possible to condemn Israel’s current conduct and to stand firmly against anti-Jewish prejudice. And it’s about time liberals and the left said so.

This piece, by Jonathan Freedland, is from Comment is Free

More4′s Nina Teggarty reports on antisemitic backlash to the Gaza war

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