George Soros: Hungarian government posters ‘anti-Semitic’ – BBC News

Sad:

Financier George Soros has accused the Hungarian government of using “anti-Semitic imagery” in its poster campaign against him.

Mr Soros has been vilified in a campaign costing the right-wing Fidesz government an estimated 5.7bn forints (£16.3m; $21m).

Many Hungarian Jews fear that open or concealed anti-Semitism lies behind the campaign, which the government denies.

This is the first time US-based Mr Soros, 86, has echoed that fear.

However, he also thanked those who had made it their mission to tear the posters down.

The most recent series of posters – many of which have had anti-Semitic graffiti scrawled on them – show a grinning Mr Soros beside the words, “Don’t let Soros have the last laugh”.

The slogan is a reference to the government’s claim the philanthropist is working to settle a million migrants in the EU.

A poster showing George Soros, on which someone has written Image copyrightAKOS STILLER
Image captionA poster showing Mr Soros, saying “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh!” Someone has written “dirty Jew” on his forehead

In a statement, Hungarian-born Mr Soros said: “I am distressed by the current Hungarian regime’s use of anti-Semitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign.

“Equally, I am heartened that together with countless fellow citizens the leadership of the Hungarian Jewish community has spoken out against the campaign.”

Mr Soros has spent $12bn, mostly through his Open Society Foundations, on civil initiatives to reduce poverty and increase transparency, and on scholarships and universities around the world, especially in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, since the 1980s.

It has seen him come up against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has declared war on liberalism.

Most recently, the university Mr Soros founded has come under attack after MPs passed a bill which could force it out of Hungary.

The posters have also drawn anger from outside the country.

Guy Verhofstadt, the chief Brexit negotiator at the European Parliament and leader of the Parliament’s liberals, wrote on Facebook: “The Hungarian regime’s xenophobia and demonization of refugees are anti-European. The claim that Soros is promoting a scheme to import a million illegal immigrants into Europe is Victor Orban’s fantasy. Darkness falls in Hungary. We cannot let this happen.”

Source: George Soros: Hungarian government posters ‘anti-Semitic’ – BBC News

Donald Trump defies calls to appoint envoy to combat anti-Semitism around the world | The Independent

Interesting that his issue is getting more widespread coverage (Jewish and Israeli media have been covering this extensively). Hard to understand the reluctance to appoint both the envoy and maintain the staff (one can make the argument, as Tillerson has, that special envoys let other officials off the hook but overall, the absence of an envoy and staff means a lower profile domestically and internationally):

Donald Trump has defied calls to appoint a special envoy to combat anti-Semitism across the world despite growing pressure from Jewish groups and Congress.

The two remaining staffers in the US State Department’s office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism are reportedly set to be reassigned next month, which will leave the branch completely unstaffed after 1 July.

Officials are yet to comment on the reported move, but insist they remain committed to fighting discrimination against Jews.

President Trump is legally required to appoint a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, a position created under former president George W. Bush.

Members of Congress from the Republican and Democrat parties have urged his administration to strengthen the office’s status in letters and proposed bills.

But earlier this month Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told them special envoys were not productive and said appointing one could weaken efforts to tackle anti-Semitism.

The US State Department said they had produced annual reports about human rights and religious freedom before the office was created in 2004, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency(JTA).

They told the JTA: “We want to ensure the Department is addressing anti-Semitism in the most effective and efficient method possible and will continue to endeavor to do so.

“The Department of State condemns attacks on Jewish communities and individuals. We consistently urge governments around the world to address and condemn anti-Semitism and work with vulnerable Jewish communities to assess and provide appropriate levels of security.

“The Department, our Embassies, and our Consulates support extensive bilateral, multilateral, and civil society outreach to Jewish communities.

“Additionally, the State Department continues to devote resources towards programs combating anti-Semitism online and off, as well as building NGO coalitions in Europe.

“We also closely monitor global anti-Semitism and report on it in our Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and International Religious Freedom Report, which document global anti-Semitism in 199 countries.”

The Anti-Defamation League has launched an online petition calling for the White House to fill the position.

The group’s CEO John Greenblatt said “maintaining the special envoy for anti-Semitism seems like a no-brainer” in an interview with the JTA.

“The idea of having a dedicated envoy who can travel around the world to raise awareness on this issue is critical,” he added.

Source: Donald Trump defies calls to appoint envoy to combat anti-Semitism around the world | The Independent

Tillerson retreats from pledge to fill anti-Semitism envoy post | The Times of Israel

While I understand Tillerson’s arguments (Canada has had similar debates over special ambassadors/envoys in the past), the politics will be interesting to watch:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson retreated from his department’s commitment to fill the post of envoy to combat anti-Semitism, saying the effort may be more effective without one.

“One of the questions I’ve asked is, if we’re really going to affect these areas, these special areas, don’t we have to affect it through the delivery on mission at every level at every country?” Tillerson said in testimony Wednesday to the foreign operations subcommittee of the US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. “And by having a special envoy, one of my experiences is, mission then says, ‘oh, we’ve got somebody else that does,’ and then they stop doing it.”

Since Congress established the position with a 2004 law, the role of the envoy has been to train career State Department officers and diplomats in identifying and combating anti-Semitism and to encourage embassies and bureaus to more closely monitor anti-Semitism. The envoy has not functioned as a stand-alone entity but rather is part of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and supervises about five career State Department staffers.

European Jewish community officials have said that having an envoy has delivered a message to their governments that the United States is focused on anti-Semitism.

At the subcommittee hearing, Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., asked Tillerson for a timeline for the hire. Earlier this year there were reports that the Trump administration, eyeing massive budget cuts to the State Department, planned to eliminate the role. National Jewish groups and Congress members expressed outrage, and in April a State Department spokesman told JTA that the department did not in fact plan to eliminate the position and was reviewing candidates to fill it.

Lawmakers have noted that because the role was created by statute, the Trump administration cannot eliminate the post. Tillerson said he would seek to persuade Congress to cut the position if he deems it necessary.

“Those that are mandated by statute, we will be back to talk with you about those as to whether we think it’s good to have it structured that way or whether we really think we can be effective on those issues in a different way,” he said at the hearing.

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the ranking Democrat on the foreign operations subcommittee, was appalled by the possibility of the position being eliminated.

“It is outrageous and offensive that Secretary Tillerson would even suggest appointing a Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism is unnecessary, particularly given that his State Department committed to filling the post back in April,” she said in an email to JTA. “As reports of hate crimes against Jews continue to rise in the United States and around the world, it is essential that Secretary Tillerson fill the Special Envoy position immediately.”

Bipartisan legislation under consideration would enhance the position to ambassador level.

Source: Tillerson retreats from pledge to fill anti-Semitism envoy post | The Times of Israel

Uprooting anti-Semitism in Greece, starting in the classroom | ekathimerini.com

Ongoing challenge in Greece:

Experts are urging authorities to take active measures to combat anti-Semitism in Greece after a recent study confirmed the high levels of hatred toward Jews in the country – believed to be the highest in Europe.

Αnti-Semitism, which is shown to thrive at both ends of the ideological spectrum, is believed to be particularly strong in Greece as a result of a deep-rooted sense of collective victimhood nurtured by an overly ethnocentric education system.

“Unfortunately, the findings confirm older surveys showing that Greece has rates of anti-Semitism matching those recorded in countries that neighbor Israel rather than ones in the European Union,” Elias Dinas, political scientist at the University of Oxford, told Kathimerini English Edition.

Conducted by a team of researchers based in Greece and the UK, the 50-page report brings together the findings of two opinion polls conducted in 2014 and 2015. It was published earlier this month by the Thessaloniki branch of the Heinrich Boll Foundation, a political think tank affiliated with the German Green Party.

Of the 1,000 Greeks polled, 65 percent said “Jews exploit the Holocaust to receive better treatment at global decision-making centers.” A similar percentage agreed with the statement that “Israel treats Palestinians exactly the same way that the Nazis treated the Jews” – a view seen as relativizing the Holocaust by placing it in the context of other acts of wholesale violence.

Just over 90 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “Jews have a major influence in the business world.” About 21 percent said Jews should be prohibited from buying land.

More than 37 percent said they have zero level of trust in Jews. Overall, those polled said they trust Jews less than they trust the Orthodox Church, homosexuals, migrants or the European Union. Jewish people were said to be more reliable only when compared to the Greek Parliament, Turks and Americans.

The results echo the findings of an infamous 2014 survey by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which indicated that 68 percent of Greeks “harbor anti-Semitic attitudes” – on a par with Saudi Arabia and more so than Iran.

Valid criticism

Experts found anti-Jewish sentiment to be as strong on the far left of the political scale as on the right. But whereas anti-Semitism among the hard-right is mostly associated with denial or minimization of the Holocaust, hostility from the left is less straightforward and often animated by solidarity with the Palestinians.

“It is true that harder facets of anti-Semitism are more evident on the right, but the left is no stranger to conspiracy theory-driven anti-Semitic attitudes,” said Dinas.

Critics, mostly on the left, complain that the term “anti-Semitism” is often misused to stigmatize legitimate criticism of Israeli settlement policies. However, the report suggests that condemnations of Israel often cross the boundary from valid criticism into territory of denigration that can be considered anti-Semitic. Instances of anti-Semitism can include denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination; using symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (for example claims that the Jews killed Christ or the classic anti-Semitic charge, known as the blood libel, that Jews use Christian blood for religious rituals) to characterize Israel or Israelis; drawing comparisons between contemporary Israeli policy and that of the Nazis; or holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Source: Uprooting anti-Semitism in Greece, starting in the classroom | Comment | ekathimerini.com

Sweden launches program to fight Holocaust denial and antisemitism – Jerusalem Post

Some useful approaches in Sweden:

With surveys showing “lots of Swedish Jews are afraid of showing their Jewishness,” Stockholm has stepped up efforts to teach about the Holocaust as a means of fighting against antisemitism, the director of a government-run program targeting the issue said.

“The Swedish government is investing a lot of money to combat the phenomenon of antisemitism and Islamophobia,” Ingrid Lomfors, director of the Living History Forum in Sweden added, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post this past week.

The Forum is a public authority established by Sweden some 15 years ago with the aim of “promoting democracy, tolerance and human rights using the Holocaust as a starting point.”

In November the government announced an additional 156 million Krona (NIS 65 million) stipend to develop a new national program for Holocaust remembrance, with the aim of combating antisemitism and racism.

“Our task is to teach Holocaust education but also to learn from history – to learn about the Holocaust and to learn from the Holocaust – what lessons can be drawn in terms of how we look at democracy, the risk of populism and racism, how do we find early warnings,” Lomfors said.

Lomfors, an historian who has devoted 30 years to studying the Holocaust, was in Israel this month seeking information from such institutions as Yad Vashem to help to build the Swedish program.

“I am very happy it [the government] gave us this opportunity but at the same time you can also say that in a way it is sad that it is needed – it says something about the world in which we live in,” Lomfors said.

“Combating antisemitism is something that you have been doing here for quite some time now and learning from the Holocaust,” she said of Israel’s experience in these fields.

“I can see lots of possibilities for collaborations to adapt programs in Israel to Swedish society,” she said. “I also think it is important for Israeli institutions to learn from us because cooperation is the only way to combat this phenomenon.”

According to Lomfors, the impetus for setting up the Forum over a decade ago was in part a nationwide survey which revealed that Swedes had very limited knowledge of the Holocaust, and that a large number of youths showed signs of Holocaust denial.

“This was really shocking to all of us,” she said, though adding that “at that time, around 20 years ago, we didn’t speak about the Holocaust.”

Another factor behind Sweden’s endeavor was renewed interest and dialogue about the Holocaust due to headlines surrounding Nazi looted art.

Lomfors described the situation in Sweden today as “very complex.”

“On the one hand you can see a trend that tolerance is increasing – young people today are becoming more and more tolerant and the country, demographically speaking is becoming more pluralistic,” she said.

“At the same time, you have an increase in racist ideas – hate speech and hate crime – as well as increasing populism.”

“I think there is a rise in antisemitism, and a rise in hate crimes which is true for many minority groups,” Lomfors said.

But she said international surveys suggested antisemitism in Sweden was not as bad as in other European countries.

“Lots of Swedish Jews are afraid of showing their Jewishness,” she said.

According to Lomfors, Holocaust education in Swedish schools is “not enough.”

She thought teachers needed more of “an opportunity to learn more about the Holocaust.”

The Forum she runs seeks to help educators by running educational and cultural programs, creating digital materials, holding regional conferences, and developing exhibitions about the Holocaust, she said.

“We are a fusion between a museum and an education forum,” she said. “Teachers are our major target group in the hope that they will use our tools to reach the students but we also reach out to student groups around the country.”

Lomfors said further that the Forum trains thousands of teachers and reaches several hundred thousand students every year through workshops and traveling exhibitions – all with a focus on both the past and present day.

The Holocaust provided a “tool for discussion” for programs focused on modern day antisemitism and racism in Sweden.

Lomfors said it was too early to gage the impact that growing numbers of refugees settling in Sweden may have on a rise in antisemitic attitudes.

“It will definitely reshape Swedish society and my institution has to take this into account when we outline programs. We have to learn more about the attitudes of newcomers,” she said.

“Antisemitism is global and if you really want to combat it you have to work in a global way – racism doesn’t have any national borders,” Lomfors said.

Source: Sweden launches program to fight Holocaust denial and antisemitism – Diaspora – Jerusalem Post

Evil Soros; Invisible Finkelstein-Orban’s Anti-Semitism – The Forward

Good long read on the complex relationships between Orban, Soros and Finkelstein:

At the time, conservatives and liberals from across the spectrum hailed Soros’s work.

In the difficult years of post-communist transition, Soros’s foundations provided humanitarian assistance in the form of school breakfasts and hospital equipment. Today, his foundations still provide some funding to nongovernmental organizations in Central and Eastern Europe — in particular in the human rights field. CEU, in the heart of Budapest, was designed as an English-language magnet school for Central and Eastern Europe’s best and brightest, and has become world-renowned.

 Soros, Konrád observed in his open letter to the prime minister, “devoted a considerable part of his fortune to young students’ needs, allowing the state to direct its resources elsewhere. He established a number of outstanding institutions in Hungary, even though in 1944 this land dealt with him so callously that it nearly cost him his life.”

Yet despite Orbán’s bristling against Soros as a foreign influence, his Fidesz party has been working for nearly a decade with Finkelstein, a New York-born secular Jew who is not afraid of embracing the very stereotype that Orbán deploys against Soros. Asked by Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley early on in their friendship whether he pronounced his last name as “Finkelsteen” or “Finkelstine” (with a long ‘i’), the consultant replied, “If I was a poor Jew, it would be Finkelsteen, but since I am a rich Jew, it’s Finkelstine.”

Finkelstein, moreover, is a gay rich Jew, long married to a male partner. Nevertheless, the self-professed libertarian, who first imbibed his ideology as a Columbia University student directly from libertarian icon Ayn Rand, has been critical to putting in office as prime minister a man with the declared goal of converting Hungary from a liberal democracy into a more authoritarian, government-heavy “illiberal state,” one with restricted rights for gay men and lesbians. In 2014, Orbán praised Russia, Turkey and China as “successful nations…none of which is liberal and some of which aren’t even democracies.”

“I don’t think that our European Union membership precludes us from building an illiberal new state based on national foundations,” he said.

Over the decades, Finkelstein, who worked early on for Richard Nixon’s 1972 presidential campaign, has rarely let his ideology interfere with his choice of clients, as long as those clients were on the right. Some estimate that at one point in the 1980s, half of Republican U.S. senators were Finkelstein clients. But over the past two decades, Finkelstein’s focus shifted abroad, where he did his most high-profile work for Israel’s Netanyahu.

GEB International, a consultancy under the leadership of Finkelstein and fellow strategist George E. Birnbaum, has taken credit for the election of Ariel Sharon and the success of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party in 2009. Finkelstein also reportedly orchestrated the 2012 alliance between Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu.

Through GEB International, Finkelstein has been providing consulting services to Fidesz since 2008, helping shape the party’s strategy in both local and national elections, including its control of a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Finkelstein’s successes — in the United States, Israel and Central Europe — can be attributed in large part to his approach to political communication.

“He likes campaigns that have signature issues, where the candidate would be known for one issue or a series of related issues,” Shirley said.

This approach has been evident in Orbán’s campaigns, which often focus on one simple message repeated over and over again — as has been the case with the prime minister’s repeated attacks on Soros.

…Orbán’s relationship with Hungary’s Jewish community, estimated at roughly 120,000 people in a country of 10 million, is complex. According to a recent survey, about 37% of Hungarians hold anti-Semitic views, telling pollsters that they “agree” or “completely agree” that “there’s too much Jewish influence in Hungary.” This was an increase from previous years: In 2013, only 27% gave positive replies to this question.

Growing up outside Budapest, Orbán likely had little exposure to Jews, who reside primarily in Budapest, before he moved to the capital to attend university. When he initially began his political career as a young, liberal anti-Communist in the late 1980s, however, he befriended Jewish Hungarian intellectuals and dissidents. Unusual for a Hungarian not of Jewish origin, Orbán’s eldest daughter, born in 1989, was given the Hebrew name Ráhel.

But very few Hungarian Jews supported Orbán’s nascent political party, and as Orbán began moving more and more to the right and adopting a nationalist stance, he alienated much of the Jewish community.

“During the [2013] World Jewish Congress in Budapest… Orbán spoke about ‘us’ the Hungarians and the ‘Jews,’” Pfeifer recalled. In the United States, he pointed out, it would be unimaginable for a sitting president to refer to “Americans” and “Jews” as separate groups.

For many Hungarian Jews, Orbán crossed a red line in 2014, when his government constructed a memorial to the “victims of German occupation” that many, including the U.S. State Department, saw as rejecting Hungary’s own complicity in the Holocaust. The Jewish community has since set up a permanent informal memorial to the victims of the Holocaust as a protest against what it sees as the government’s distortion of history.

But Orbán’s rhetoric on Soros over the past months has raised new concerns about government-sponsored anti-Semitism.

Konrád told Orbán in his open letter, “The real turning point for me was that, in the interest of the arbitrary extension of your power, you dipped into the hypocritical repository of political anti-Semitism and pulled out its shrill slogans with both hands.”

Not everyone shares this view.

“Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s policies aren’t anti-Semitic at all,” the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, known as MAZSIHISZ, said in a statement to the Forward. “His government supports the large Jewish organizations in achieving their goals, the Jewish community is not a victim of any kind of official discrimination, and there’s no real chance that it will change in the foreseeable future.”

Similarly, Slomó Köves, executive rabbi of EMIH Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, an affiliate of Chabad, told Hungarian state media May 12 that he “does not know of an internationally accepted norm” by which anti-Soros rhetoric is considered anti-Semitism.

Both Köves’s Chabad operation in Hungary and MAZSIHISZ receive significant funding from the government. Köves did not respond to emailed questions from the Forward.

Source: Evil Soros; Invisible Finkelstein-Orban’s Anti-Semitism – The Forward

Trump Sets Up The Next Anti-Semitism Envoy For Failure – The Forward

Valid commentary by Shai Franklin who worked on antisemitism both with Europe and the Bush administration:

Responding to American Jewish anxieties, the Trump administration has indicated it will be filling the post of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (SEAS). Before popping Champagne corks, we should understand the severe limitations of such a role amid a retrenchment of U.S. diplomacy and serious challenges to civil rights by our own government.

If the President fills the SEAS slot, we can certainly work with his appointee and utilize those resources. And it is important that Congress not permit the budget for this post to be eliminated. But we must not ignore the obvious, unprecedented limitations and contradictions.
The entire SEAS cachet was predicated on U.S. moral leadership, as an example at home and a force for democracy abroad, applying over two centuries of painful lessons learned. At this time, the best channel for globally combating anti-Semitism is to insist that our government recommit to upholding minority rights domestically and to demanding other countries respect fundamental freedoms and civil society. Without that, SEAS won’t be much more than a trophy on a Trump donor’s shelf.

At a time when the Secretary of State is the only Presidential appointee in the State Department, when the only new U.S. Ambassador – to Israel – has yet to take up his post, with whom would an anti-Semitism envoy collaborate within the building or coordinate in the field? What follow-through can there be from a bureaucracy that’s being scaled back and dismantled?

When the Administration has dismissed all U.S. Attorneys around the country, without naming a single permanent replacement, how do we convince other countries to prosecute hate crimes against Jews or others?

What credibility will any U.S. diplomat have in urging other governments to take meaningful action, that the rights of Jews are integral to the concept of universal human rights – rights our own government no longer trumpets?

Beyond highlighting the plight of Christians in some Muslim-majority countries, the Trump administration has barely mentioned minority rights or human rights. Last month, President Trump first gave a warm Oval Office welcome to Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, whose ongoing military crackdown earns him the worst human rights records in the country’s modern history. The President then called to congratulate Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan for a referendum granting him sweeping powers to crack down on civil society and the rule of law.

Imagine a newly elected foreign leader who argues the Holocaust wasn’t specifically about Jews, who waits weeks before denouncing a nationwide vandalism wave against Jewish cemeteries, whose own spokesman insists Syria’s Bashar Assad is worse than Adolf Hitler? Now imagine that same leader brings in a leading white supremacist (recently sanitized to “Alt-Right”) bandleader as his policy chief.

How can any American reasonably admonish Hungary’s Prime Minister for feeding xenophobia and anti-immigrant hysteria, when President Trump’s counter-terror advisor appears to be a member in Hungary’s far right Vitezi Rend – in which case he shouldn’t even be allowed to be in the United States.

Across America, Jews and Muslims are finding common cause – defending each other’s institutions and proactively promoting mutual respect and cooperation. This is the best answer to those seeking to divide and isolate us as a nation and as a society.

A critical step 15 years ago in convincing European governments to join forces against anti-Semitism was the commitment of American Jewish organizations and the U.S. Government to also fighting Islamophobia. How will the concerns of a Trump envoy be received in any European capital, while our President and his administration are actively pushing to ban visitors from Muslim countries, to stop admitting all refugees? When our President uses his first Congressional address to demonize immigrants, when he wants to build a physical wall along our border and is sending immigration squads into urban neighborhoods, will it help Jews to be the only group with a special envoy?

The best way to stand up for Jews abroad is to embrace universal human rights in partnership with other minorities, to encourage rather than stifle international exchange and engagement, and to be as sensitive to Jewish fears at home as we demand of other countries. It also helps if the State Department’s diplomatic machinery and decision-making apparatus aren’t confined to a few period rooms on the seventh floor.

An anti-Semitism envoy can work effectively with other countries and within our own government to address the persistent and evolving challenges of anti-Semitism – if these logistical and thematic impediments are remedied. Even then, restoring the credibility and moral leadership of the United States could take decades, and every future U.S. envoy will probably have to walk a bit more humbly than before. Pretending otherwise would harm our own credibility as a Jewish community and undermine the legitimacy of our cause.

Source: Trump Sets Up The Next Anti-Semitism Envoy For Failure – The Forward

New [ADL] Study Shows Anti-Semitism Soared Last Year | The Huffington Post

Rise refers to what Canadian hate crime stats would classify as mischief, with violent forms declining. Still disturbing:

Harassment, vandalism and other hostile acts against Jewish people and sites in the U.S. increased by 34 percent last year and are up 86 percent through the first three months of 2017, according to data released on Monday.

A spate of bomb threats against Jewish community centers and schools, and vandalism at Jewish cemeteries in the U.S. this year have contributed to the surge, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s report.

There have been more than 100 bomb threats against 75 Jewish community centers and eight Jewish day schools around the country this year through early March. Vandals have toppled headstones and inflicted other damage at Jewish graveyards in St. Louis, Philadelphia and other cities this year. A swastika made from feces besmirched an art school bathroom in Rhode Island.

“What the data tells us is incontrovertible and why the Jewish community describes such heightened anxiety,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told The Huffington Post. “There’s no doubt that there’s a high degree of anxiety.”

Greenblatt added that his organization’s report, which was released on Holocaust Remembrance Day, shows that public officials must do more to denounce anti-Semitism and find ways to make Jewish-Americans feel secure.

DOMINICK REUTER VIA GETTY IMAGES
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, Feb. 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated.

In all, the ADL documented 1,266 incidents in 2016 and 541 since the beginning of this year until March. That’s a sharp increase since 2013, when the ADL recorded 751 incidents, the fewest number since record keeping began in 1979, a spokesman said. For comparison, anti-Semitic incidents peaked in 1994 when there were more than 2,000 incidents reported for the first and only time.

The ADL’s analysis excluded most bigoted acts on social media. However, it included the harassment of Jewish residents in Whitefish, Montana, because the coordinated abuse rose above typical taunting and hate speech online, an ADL spokesman said. Supporters of alt-right figurehead Richard Spencer targeted town activists and Jewish residents after Spencer’s mother, a Whitefish business owner, said she was harassed because of her son’s politics.

While forms of harassment and vandalism have jumped since 2015, the ADL said that physical assaults fell 36 percent in 2016 and are down 40 percent this year.

Source: New Study Shows Anti-Semitism Soared Last Year | The Huffington Post

Marine Le Pen: France ‘not responsible’ for deporting Jews during Holocaust – The Washington Post

Sigh … hope French voters react:

The Velodrome d’Hiver is an eternal stain on French history.

After dark on July 16, 1942, French police rounded up about 13,000 Jews from across occupied Paris and deposited them in the “Vel d’Hiv,” a famous indoor stadium that had hosted the 1924 Summer Olympics and where the likes of Ernest Hemingway would come to enjoy the races. From the stadium, not far from the Eiffel Tower, the vast majority of these interned Jews in 1942 were deported to Auschwitz. Most would never return from that World War II Nazi concentration camp.

The reason the Vel d’Hiv lingers in France’s national memory is that the roundup was carried out by French police — not by the German occupiers.

In a republic devoted to the lofty ideals of equality and universal citizenship — and that had legally emancipated its Jews long before any of its European neighbors — the Vel d’Hiv roundup exposed the deadly hypocrisy of collaboration with the Nazi regime. In 1995, speaking at the site of the stadium, then-President Jacques Chirac put it this way: “France, the homeland of the Enlightenment and of the rights of man, a land of welcome and asylum — France, on that day, committed the irreparable. Breaking its word, it handed those who were under its protection over to their executioners.”

Now enter Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front party, who is making a run for the presidency in the April 23 election.

“I don’t think that France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,” she declared Sunday on French television. “I think that in general, more generally, if there were those responsible, it was those who were in power at the time. This is not France.”

In remarks that elicited outrage across the French media, Le Pen went further: “France has been mired in people’s minds for years. In reality, our children are taught that they have every reason to criticize her, to see only the darkest historical aspects.”

“I want them to be proud to be French again.”

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is among the top contenders in France’s presidential campaign. Here’s what you need to know about her.(Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)

Israel condemned Le Pen’s remarks, saying they reflect rising anti-Semitism that, “unfortunately, is once again raising its head.”

Canadian antisemitism statistics should be taken with a pinch of salt – The Jewish Chronicle

The StatsCan annual reports do separate out “mischief” (“non-violent offences,” about two-thirds of the total) from more serious hate crimes:

Here in Montreal, extremist imams can be seen on YouTube calling for the death of Jews at mosques, and chants of “death to the Jews” can be heard in Arabic at anti-Israel rallies.

The issue is also pretty cut and dried when synagogues are defaced with large swastikas, Jewish school libraries are burned down (as happened in Montreal in 2004), or small pipe bombs go off at Jewish institutions, such as happened in Montreal in 2007.

But what makes the issue murkier is whether real antisemitism is always involved, and a recent police report released report in Toronto bears that out.

According to the city’s Hate Crimes Unit, for the 12thconsecutive year – 12th! – Jews were the main victims in almost 30 per cent of hate-motivated crimes against minority groups, significantly ahead of black, Muslim, and the LGBTQ communities.

To me, this makes no real sense. Why should Jews be more targeted than other minorities, and for so many years in a row?

I got no help in answering this question from the unit itself. As a matter of policy, I was told, it does not publicly disclose who reports a “hate crimes” incident, other than to acknowledge that it might come from any individual or organisation.

That latter part resonated with me since it’s kind of an open secret that certain Jewish organisations have a vested interest in creating the public impression that antisemitism in Canada is perpetually “on the rise.”

So anything, in a way, can be seen and reported as a “hate crime”: from a swastika finger-painted in the snow by a stupid teenage kid to an idiot making a bigoted comment at a supermarket.

And if they are designated as “hate crimes,” those numbers can really add up! For the Jews, 12 years in a row, it appears.

It’s not irrelevant, in that context, to recall that in 2010, Canadian journalist Jonathan Kay criticised one Jewish org, B’nai Brith Canada, for its “absurd contention” that antisemitism is a growing problem in Canada.

In other words, “hate crimes” stats are pretty broad, open-to-interpretation – and dubious. The numbers should be taken with a big pinch of salt.

Of course there are serious antisemitic incidents in Canada. Of course there are. But the call as to what is truly a hate crime seems too often open to interpretation and involves too many vested community interests to get a truly accurate picture of the reality on the ground.

Source: Canadian antisemitism statistics should be taken with a pinch of salt – The Jewish Chronicle