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Tuesday, Jul 29th

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Recent Events

Germany: rabbi gets death threat

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An unknown person has called a Frankfurt rabbi and threatened to murder Jews living in the city. Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Frankfurter Rundschau the man had called the rabbi last Friday and posed as a Palestinian with relatives in Gaza. The man then said, "I'll kill 30 Frankfurt Jews in retaliation," Graumann said. The man related his threat to the current raids by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip.


Such a concrete threat had not previously existed, Graumann said. He said he takes the incident seriously and sees it as an indication "that the hatred had reached a new level." The Jewish community is already in contact with the police. An indication of the identity of the caller will not be given.


Since the escalation in the Middle East, anti-Semitic slogans were made during anti-Israel demonstrations in several German cities.

France: Man arrested after attacking Jewish center

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A man was arrested late Saturday afternoon in Toulouse shortly after trying to attack with incendiary devices the "Space Judaism", the main meeting place for the Jewish community in the city. For Nicole Yardeni, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in Midi-Pyrenees, this anti-Semitic attack, which took place an hour after a pro-Palestinian demonstration which brought together 500 people in the city center of Toulouse, reflects a climate where "it is allowed to hurt the Jews, far beyond what is happening in Gaza."

The man came near the entrance gate, first threw two devices that did not work and stones, before throwing a third molotov cocktail at police on duty outside the building and fled, said Yardeni. It did not hit the police. Police sources confirmed that one man "was arrested quickly" .


Switzerland: Facebook users not shy of making anti-Jewish comments under real names

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The Foundation against Racism and Anti-Semitism has submitted in the Zurich cantonal police criminal charges against seven people that called on Facebook to hatred and violence against Jews, the "NZZ am Sonntag" reported. "Racist and anti-Semitic statements of this kind are found otherwise only in anonymously authored blogs and reader comments," says managing director Leila Feit. What is shocking is that some people today apparently no longer shy away from making publicly racist remarks by their own name.


Several Facebook users in Switzerland had called in advance for the demonstration on July 18, using phrases like making a genocide of the Jews. For instance, a user called on a page that promoted the rally on to move the Jews into a "Jewish quarter" and there to commit acts of violence.


Given the confrontation in the Middle East anti-jewish sentiment is piling up. A lot of Internet users let their anger run wild - apparently without being aware of possible criminal consequences. Sabine Simkhovitch-Dreyfus, Vice-President of the Federal Commission against Racism, says she considers this development dangerous. Especially young people might get the impression that everything on the Internet is permitted. "It seems that many would take their own statements seriously. Sometimes, however, this lead to further (actions). "


The worst cases would be pursued. Suspected cases can be reported via the website of the Swiss Coordination Unit for Cybercrime Control (Kobik).


According to reports, the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) has complained against six people at the Zurich prosecutor. It is connected "particularly to aggressive and discriminatory comments expressed or extremely explicit threats," SIG-President Herbert Winter told the newspaper.

Yad Vashem expresses concern

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Yad Vashem, Israel's institution established in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, published a press release saying it is “deeply alarmed” by the recent escalation of anti-Semitism and violence against Jews in the world.


According to the statement, the physical and verbal violence against Jews intended as a response to events in Gaza, is plain and simple anti-Semitism, which could be compared to the one from the Holocaust time.


It also notes that “virulent hatred is finding various expressions, ranging from attacks on synagogues in France and physical attacks against Jews, to calls such as “Jews to the Gas” in Germany, to the use of swastikas at anti-Israel demonstrations, and antisemitic caricatures in newspapers and social media”.


Yad Vashem in Jerusalem that houses a museum and several institutions dedicated to the dissemination, study and memory of the Holocaust, says it was “gravely concerned by the demagogic abuse of Holocaust imagery and language which distorts the past as well as the current reality for political purposes. Exploiting these terms from the Holocaust, in order to incite and inflame hatred, desecrates the memory of the Holocaust.”


The director of the institution, Avner Shalev, called “governments of the democracies around the world, particularly in Europe, to take immediate steps, using the legal and moral tools at their disposal, to protect Jewish citizens in their countries, and combat the expressions of antisemitism which we are witnessing in recent weeks.”


Germany: Muslim Council president rejects anti-Semitism

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The president of the Muslim Council of Germany, Ali Kizilkaya denied that among the Muslim community in Germany there is a serious problem of anti-Semitism, however he defended criticism against Israel's military operation in Gaza Strip.


"Muslims reject anti-Semitism," Kizilkaya told the "Mitteldeutschen Zeitung" newspaper in its Saturday edition. The Muslim leader also argued that "criticism of Israel's conduct is justified", but not the activities against Jewish people. "All kinds of hatred, either anti-Semitism or racism against Muslims is unacceptable," said the representative of the Muslim Council.


The demonstrations against Israel's military offensive in Gaza have raised concerns in Germany, after last week when some incidents against Jewish people or buildings were reported. In some pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Berlin, anti-Jewish insults were heard, while in the city of Essen a dozen of people were arrested allegedly when trying to attack a synagogue.


Dozens of celebrities and politicians, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have warned of the risk of a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Germany.

Belgium: Cafe bans Jews

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Displays of anti-Semitism continue to spread in various European countries in Europe due to the two weeks conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Now, a cafe in the village of Saint-Nicolas-Ans in the province of Liege in Belgium, made a sign with Turkish characters in which welcomes dogs, but not Jews "under any circumstances".


Besides the message that prohibits entry to Jewish people, one can see an Israeli flag with red stripes and a kaffiyeh and other Palestinian flag. When the message was translated into French, the word "Jew" was exchanged for "Zionist."


The mayor of the town of Saint-Nicolas-Ans ordered the authorities to remove this ad immediately, after the Belgian League against Anti-Semitism (LBCA) denounced the cafe and its owner. However, the association seeks to take more serious action in the matter.


Belgium is not the first country where signs of anti-Semitism are shown. The foreign ministers of Italy, Spain and France have condemned similar incidents.


EU leaders vow to fight antisemitism

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The foreign ministers of Germany, France and Italy condemned on Tuesday the increase in anti-Semitic violence during the protests against the conflict in Gaza and said they would do everything possible to combat this trend in their countries.


"The anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews, attacks against Jews and synagogues, have no place in our societies," stated the foreign ministers of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier; France, Laurent Fabius, and Italy, Federica Mogherini, in a joint statement issued in Brussels.


All three said that while respecting freedom of expression and freedom of demonstration, they will do everything possible to combat acts and statements that cross the line of anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia.


Since the beginning of hostilities between Israel and the terrorist Hamas, participants in demonstrations against Israel in Germany have frequently used anti-Semitic slogans and called for the Jews to be killed by poisonous gases, a reference to the killing of Jews by Nazis in the Holocaust.


On Tuesday evening in Berlin, about 500 pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched from Potsdamer Platz to the Brandenburg Gate. In France, earlier this week young pro Palestinians have repeatedly clashed with police and torched vehicles, robbed shops and attacked two synagogues in Paris suburbs. In Italy there have been pro Palestinian peaceful demonstrations.


Jewish groups have expressed shock and distress at the increasing anti-Semitism in Germany and other European countries with large Muslim populations.


Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande met Monday with Muslim leaders at the Elysee Palace, where he told them that the fight against anti-Semitism will be a "national cause".

Merkel vows to fight antisemitism

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has condemned the anti-Semitic slogans at rallies in German cities held against Israel's Gaza offensive.


Such remarks were an "attack on freedom and tolerance, and the attempt to undermine our free and democratic basic order" she was quoted as saying on Wednesday. "This can not and will not be accepted."


At pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Berlin, Frankfurt and other cities slogans like "Jew, Jew, cowardly pigs - and come out to fight alone" were chanted. It is feared that there will be further abuse in the next few days in already authorized rallies. The police announced tougher action.


Merkel also insured: "We will continue to advocate for the safety of our Jewish citizens." She added: "The security authorities are taking every attack on Jewish institutions and against individuals very seriously. Anti-Semitic crimes are consistently pursued with all legal means."

Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies

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Despite the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip, there are also some efforts to maintain the good relations between Jews and Arabs. For instance, on the Twitter the hashtag # JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies (Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies) made its appearance a few days ago with the publication by a journalist of Lebanese origin, Sulome Anderson, who shared a picture of her and her fellow Jew. The photo quickly became viral and other mixed couples, or children of mixed couples, have followed this steps.


The Facebook page dedicated to this movement already has over 7,100 fans.


This is one initiative in a sea of anti-Jewish incidents which have been reported since the beginning of the current Gaza conflict.

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