The Jewish Agency for Israel
Annual Report on Antisemitism (2008)
Press Conference, 25th January 2009
Cause for Concern in light of Operation "Cast Lead" -
Unprecedented Quantitative and Qualitative Escalation
of Antisemitic Incidents
The Joint Forum for Countering Antisemitism presents disturbing data ahead of International Holocaust Memorial Day.
Reports indicate more than 250 Antisemitic incidents occurred worldwide during Operation "Cast Lead", compared with 80 incidents during the same period in the previous year (late December 2007-January 2008). While the overall number of antisemitic incidents fell by 15%-20% in 2008, in comparison with 2007, in the wake of Operation "Cast Lead", there was a significant and unparalleled rise in the number and severity of these incidents in January 2009.
Most of the recent antisemitic attacks were perpetrated by local Muslim groups and primarily in Western Europe. There were approximately 100 incidents in France and a similar figure was given for Great Britain, including violent assault on Jews and Israelis in the Diaspora, attacks and desecration fo synagogues, cemeteries and Jewish institutions; attacks on personal property belonging to Jews; as well as virulently antisemitic propaganda during rallies and mass demonstrations, including drawing specific false analogies between Nazi crimes in the Holocaust and IDF activity in the Gaza Strip.
Hagai Merom, Jewish Agency Treasurer, noted that the Jewish Agency for Israel plays a focal role in countering Antisemitism around the world. "We shall continue our endeavors to curb this unpleasant phenomenon by addressing our observations and proposals to leaders of the world and demanding that they implement effective measures to counter Antisemitism, as well as promoting our own educational programs through our shlichim worldwide. The Government of the State of Israel has not allocated adequate resources for this purpose, in terms of immediate and effective response to incidents which are antisemitic in nature."
Amos Hermon, Antisemitism portfolio holder at the Jewish Agency Executive, observed that levels of Antisemitism climbed to a new two-decade high during Operation Cast Lead, with incidents also marked by their unprecedented levels of violence. He said that the Jewish Agency together with the World Zionist Organization had engaged in a series of initiatives to assist Jewish communities in reducing Antisemitism, parallel to its preparations in communities to anticipate the forthcoming "Durban II" Conference in Geneva (April 2009).
Isaac Herzog, Israel Minister for Labor and Social Welfare, who holds the government portfolio for countering Antisemitism, expressed his regrets that he was unable to attend the Press Conference due to an urgent Cabinet meeting. In a communiqué delivered to the meeting, he expressed his concern at the unprecedented and inadmissible analogies drawn between Nazism and Israel. "We are witnessing the growth of Islamic and extreme left-wing groups who are taking center stage in the arena of Antisemitism in general, and Antisemitic acts against Jews, in particular. As a sovereign state, it is our duty to redouble our cooperation and liaison with foreign governmental institutions, as well as the Jewish communities, in an endeavor to guarantee the physical security, as well as to ensure both personal and communal welfare within Jewish communities, in this developing reality."