U.S. State Dept. confirms: Much anti-Semitism now in the guise of hatred of Israel

March 18, 2008

* Facebook opens popular page glorifying Jerusalem yeshiva murderer and another called “America, Israel’s bitch”
* Saudi “scholar” on TV: “Only 50-60 Jews died in the Holocaust”
* British govt. bans Likud’s deputy leader, but welcomes Hizbullah’s Mousawi
* Another Jewish teenager severely tortured in France
* Palestinian stabs rabbi in Jerusalem this morning



1. Senator John McCain at Yad Vashem today
2. Glorifying Jew-killers on Facebook
3. U.S. Report: “New anti-Semitism” disguised as hatred of Israel
4. Firebombs hurled into home of Jewish Agency rep. in U.S.
5. Another Jewish teenager tortured by gang of youths in France
6. Paris Book Fair evacuated after bomb threat
7. Peres loves Paris and Paris loves Peres?
8. Saudi “scholar” on Al-Aqsa TV: “Only 50-60 Jews died in the Holocaust”
9. Likud’s Feiglin, but not Hizbullah’s Mousawi, banned from Britain

10. British Auschwitz survivor Leon Greenman dies
11. Irish David Irving talk canceled following threats
12. New Zealand auction house to sell Hitler photo
13. Goldie Hawn heckled at Jewish charity dinner in Glasgow
14. Vandals desecrate burial place of famous Polish rabbi
15. Manchester abandons plan for new Holocaust museum
16. “Paris Book Burning” (Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2008)
17. “Jews fleeing Paris suburbs” (JTA, March 12, 2008)

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is one of an occasional series of dispatches focused on anti-Semitism. In order to fully understand the complexities of international attitudes to the Middle East, it is sometimes necessary to also be aware of the increasing level of anti-Semitism in many countries.



Senior staff at Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial who subscribe to this email list tell me that U.S. Senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain will visit Yad Vashem this afternoon. He will be guided by Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev.

His tour will take place at 5 pm local time and be closed to the media, with the exception of a wreath-laying ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance. McCain has asked to tour the Children’s Memorial.



Facebook, the social networking site with over 65 million users, now has a fast growing group honoring the terrorist who murdered eight teenagers in a Jerusalem yeshiva earlier this month.

In addition to glorifying the murder of Jews, the Facebook page dedicated to terrorist Ala Abu Dhaim* refers to him as a “martyr” and links to a page that calls Jews “pigs”.

This is only one of many user groups delegitimizing Israel on Facebook and other social networking sites. Another popular Facebook group is called “Israel is not a country”.

Another is called: “America, Israel’s bitch”. These groups have become “a hotbed for anti-Semitism, hate speech and incitement of violence against Jews,” according to anti-racist campaigners.

(* For more on Dhaim and his victims, see: Fatah’s young guard: “Blessed martyrdom operation in occupied [West] Jerusalem”)



Last Thursday, the U.S. government confirmed what many of us have been arguing for years: that anti-Semites are increasingly using highly exaggerated and often completely invented criticism of Israel as a cover for expressing more generally anti-Semitic views.

Journalists are not immune from this, as I have pointed out on several occasions. I felt this while working as a correspondent in the Middle East, both from some other western reporters based there, and from some of my editors in the UK and elsewhere. (For more on my own experience of witnessing anti-Semitism among western journalists, see here.)

The new U.S. State Department report said Jews worldwide are facing a new form of anti-Semitism disguised as criticism of Israel, in addition to more traditional forms of anti-Semitism.

“Anti-Semitism couched as criticism of Zionism or Israel often escapes condemnation since it can be more subtle than traditional forms of anti-Semitism,” the report said.

Critics of Israel have a “responsibility to consider the effect their actions may have in prompting hatred of Jews,” it said, adding that hostility toward Israel has at times manifested itself in violence toward Jews.

UN bodies often fail to “pay attention to regimes that are demonstrably guilty of grave violations,” the report added.

“Comparing contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is increasingly commonplace,” the report also noted.

The report singled out a number of leaders, governments and state-sponsored institutions for “fanning the flames of anti-Semitism,” with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the top of the list. It also took to task the Syrian government, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and government-controlled media in Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“In France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere, anti-Semitic violence remains a significant concern... Recent increases in anti-Semitic incidents have been documented in Argentina, Australia, Canada, South Africa and beyond,” it added.

The full State Department report can be read here, or through the link given on this site.



Two Molotov cocktail explosive devices were thrown at the home of the Jewish Agency’s representative at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, on Saturday.

One landed in his living room without exploding and was taken for fingerprint analysis. The second hit an external wall, igniting a fire in the yard. There were no injuries.

The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reports that the FBI is investigating the possibility that a radical left-wing group, which has recently been highly active on U.S. campuses, was behind the attack.



Six youths, aged between 17 and 25, from the Paris suburb of Bagneux, have been arrested for beating up and sexually tormenting a 19-year-old Jewish man in February. According to investigating magistrates, the young man, Mathieu Roumi, was handcuffed to a radiator and beaten.

The gang scrawled “dirty Jew” and “dirty faggot” on his face. Later they forced him to swallow cigarette butts and to suck a condom on a stick. The teenager’s ordeal reportedly lasted nine and a half hours. The victim has been hospitalized.

The six youths have been charged with torture, blackmail, theft and racial abuse. Two years ago, a 23-year-old French Jew, Ilan Halimi was tortured to death by another gang in the same suburb of Bagneux.

(For more on France, see the articles at the end of this dispatch.)



A bomb alert on Sunday prompted the evacuation of 25,000 people from the Paris Book Fair.

Several Arab and other Muslim countries had already announced a boycott of the prestigious fair because Israel is this year’s guest of honor. The boycott was organized by the Arab League and by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Algeria, Iran, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen were among the countries boycotting.

This is in spite of the fact that most of the 39 Israeli writers attending the fair are leftists strongly supportive of a Palestinian state, and some of the Israeli writers attending are Israeli Arabs.

(For more, see the first full article below, “Paris Book Burning.”)



Despite the boycott, Israeli President Shimon Peres received a warm welcome at the fair from President Nicolas Sarkozy and his new wife, Carla Bruni.

Sarkozy granted Peres the rare honor of a “state visit” and ordered that the Champs Élysées and various public buildings to be adorned with French and Israeli flags.

Over 1,200 publishers are participating in the fair and over 200,000 visitors are expected to attend.



Having denied the Holocaust, Saudi scholar Dr. Walid Al-Rashudi then added “by Allah, we will not be satisfied even if all Jews are killed.” His television sermon has been translated by Memri and can be viewed here.

Dr. Walid Al-Rashudi is head of the Department of Islamic Studies at King Saud University, Saudi Arabia. His hateful sermon was aired on Al-Aqsa TV on February 29, 2008.



To the absolute shock of Britain’s Jewish community and people who care about democracy, the deputy leader of Israel’s Likud party, Moshe Feiglin, has been excluded from Britain by Home Secretary (Interior Minister) Jacqui Smith using powers invoked after the July 2005 London terror bombings. The letter was sent to Feiglin in Israel even though he has no plans to visit the UK.

In the two-page letter, Smith said she had “personally directed” that he be banned. She said: “It is considered that you are seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK. In light of these factors, you should be excluded from the UK on the grounds that your exclusion is conducive to the public good.” There is no right of appeal.

The British Home Office refused to tell the (London) Jewish Chronicle or the Jerusalem Post why the decision was made, other than to say that Smith can exclude people whether or not they have applied to come to Britain.

Feiglin, who owns a hi-tech start up company, said: “This is a British government problem, not mine. However, if somebody in Britain feels comfortable enough to do something like that, it should turn on some serious red lights in any British citizen who cares about democracy. Britain and America are letting in the real terrorists – remember President Ahmadinejad was allowed to speak at an American university.”

Referring to the British government’s agreement to allow into Britain chief Hizbullah propagandist Ibrahim Mousawi, who has been on a viciously anti-Israel speaking tour in the UK this month, Feiglin said: “I almost feel honored to be marked as the bad guy by a government that supports terror.”

“The letter came out of the blue,” said Feiglin. “This is all very strange because I have no plans to visit Britain either in the short or long term. I have never been banned from anywhere else. In fact I am giving a lecture in Canada at the end of this month.”

Zalmi Unsdorfer, a British Jewish activist, said “in the same way that years ago Jews were not allowed into some golf clubs, Israelis are now being stopped from entering Britain.”

It also emerged this week that the ban may have been in place before Smith’s letter was sent. Feiglin’s 24-year-old Australian cousin, who is also called Moshe Feiglin, was detained and questioned at London’s Heathrow airport last year while on a connecting flight from Australia to New York, before being escorted by police to the New York flight.



Leon Greenman, the only* British-born Jew to survive Auschwitz, died last week at the age of 97. Greenman was born in London, but was captured in Holland in October 1943. Greenman, his wife Esther and their young son Barney were deported to Auschwitz; Esther and Barney died there.

Greenman went on to survive six concentration camps. He later became among the best-known Holocaust survivors living in Britain to tell the story of the Holocaust. Greenman spoke to school groups almost every day of the week, touring the country to take his story to as many people as possible and also published a memoir, “An Englishman in Auschwitz.”

Greenman, who before the war had trained as a boxer despite being only 5 foot 2 inches tall, and also worked as a barber’s apprentice, was liberated by the American army in Buchenwald in April 1945.

In 1988 he was awarded the Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II for his work fighting racism.

(* Other British Jews were murdered in other Nazi death camps.)



A speech by convicted Holocaust denier David Irving at University College Cork, in southern Ireland, has been canceled after the students that invited him received death threats. Irving was invited by the university’s Philosophical Society.

However, Irving did appear as a guest on Ireland’s most-watched television show on the Friday before last. Police had to break up a small demonstration outside the Dublin studios of RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster as he appeared.

Irving, a British hatemonger masquerading as a historian, was jailed by Austria for Holocaust denial in 2006. Irving’s estranged teenage daughter, in a show of defiance towards her father, now carries a copy of Anne Frank’s Diary with her at all times.

Among previous dispatches on this website concerning Irving:
* David Irving says from prison: “The Jews will see a second Holocaust in 20 to 30 years” (Feb. 27, 2006)
* David Irving: Auschwitz “was a tourist attraction” (& British Muslims scrap Holocaust Day) (Jan. 31, 2007)



A New Zealand auction house has rejected calls by the country’s small Jewish community to withdraw a signed photograph of Adolf Hitler and his deputy Rudolf Hess from sale. The 1933 photograph, which the local Dominion Post newspaper says was previously put up for sale without success, is estimated to be worth up to US$3,200.

David Zwartz, a Jewish community leader, told the paper that the auction of the photograph and other Nazi items, including a helmet, was “deeply distasteful. It promotes a view that gives prominence and support for people who were immensely evil and caused a lot of harm to the Jewish people and to the world at large.” However, auctioneer Bettina Frith said: “I don’t have a problem with it. It’s part of history now. You could say anything about any of the wars.”



Hollywood actress Goldie Hawn was heckled by demonstrators outside a fund-raising dinner hosted by the Jewish National Fund in the Scottish city of Glasgow. About 150 demonstrators screaming curses about Israel and Jews jeered Hawn as she arrived at the event on Sunday March 9. The dinner was to raise funds for a reservoir in the Galilee that benefits both Jews and Arabs.

Separately, the Israeli ambassador to Britain has been disinvited from giving a talk at Edinburgh university after threats and protests from anti-Israeli student groups.

And also in Scotland, two leading Scottish newspapers, the Edinburgh-based daily The Scotsman, and The Glasgow Herald, are being investigated by the police after virulently anti-Semitic comments were posted on their websites alongside articles containing mistranslated comments about Israel threatening to inflict a “Holocaust” on Gaza. The Scotsman has said it is cooperating with police to try and identify readers who posted comments urging people to kill Scottish Jews and praising Hitler.

One of Britain’s leading Muslim politicians, Shahid Malik, the government’s minister for overseas development, called upon Britons to make sure that criticism of Israel’s actions did not spill over into anti-Semitism.



The grave of Rabbi Elimelekh Weissblum in Lezajsk, southeastern Poland, was desecrated earlier this month. The small white building sheltering the grave of Rabbi Elimelekh, one of the founders of the Hassidic movement, was daubed with anti-Semitic inscriptions.

The incident occurred on the 40th anniversary of an anti-Semitic campaign in 1968 by the Communist regime, which forced about 20,000 Jews to emigrate from Poland.



Plans to build a museum in memory of victims of the Holocaust in the northern English city of Manchester, have been abandoned, according to the Manchester Evening News. Some of the estimated US$1 million already raised to fund the project, which was to be designed by the architect Daniel Libeskind, will now be used to pay for a new lecturer’s post on Holocaust Studies at Manchester University, the paper reports.

Separately, Jewish leaders in the city paid tribute to Michael Todd, the Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester police who committed suicide last week. Todd, who was not Jewish, urged other leading police officers to visit Auschwitz to see for themselves the dangers of anti-Semitism, and campaigned to set up a special mobile police station in the city’s Hassidic neighborhood to try and reduce attacks on Jews there.


I attach two articles below.

-- Tom Gross



Paris Book Burning
The Wall Street Journal
March 12, 2008


Then, in Paris, they came for the novelists.

One by one, from Morocco to Saudi Arabia to Iran, Muslim governments have signed up for the boycott of the international book fair opening Friday in the French capital. The reason? It showcases Israeli literature this year – which, by mere coincidence organizers say, happens to be the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish state.

Impromptu or official boycotts of Israeli commercial goods or national sports teams are nothing new. But the assault on words – merely for being written in Hebrew by writers who happen to carry Israeli passports – adds a revealing wrinkle to a familiar story.

The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization late last month cited Israeli “atrocities, oppression and imposed starvation and siege against the Palestinian people” in its call for governments to keep their writers and books away from Paris. As did the Arab League. Tariq Ramadan, the Oxford scholar and grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, proclaimed in Le Monde that the “fair can’t celebrate the Jewish state and ignore the fate of the Palestinians.”

Aware of his Western audience, the pop Islamist intellectual was quick to stress that “political criticism [of Israel] and anti-Semitism” aren’t the same thing. Sure – except we’re not talking about politics here. Culture expresses a people’s essential identity and the coordinated Muslim assault ahead of the book fair expresses a not so latent anti-Semitism.

The richness of Israeli society, as shown through its thriving arts scene, makes an illusive target for such venom. Joining Amos Oz and Aharon Appelfeld in the national delegation of 39 writers in Paris will be Israeli Arabs Sayed Kashua and Naim Araidi.

An Israeli Jewish poet, Aaron Shabtai, declined the invitation. “I don’t think that a state that maintains an occupation, that every day commits crimes against civilians, deserves to be invited to a week devoted to culture. That’s anti-cultural.” Working in the Middle East’s most vibrant democracy, Mr. Shabtai is free to make his choice and publicly proclaim it.

His peers in the Muslim world don’t have that privilege. Moroccan novelist Abdelouahab Errami told Le Journal du Dimanche of his “disappointment” at the boycott. “I don’t share the position of my government. But I won’t go... It is difficult to have a different individual position without exposing yourself to a campaign of pressure.”



Jews fleeing Paris suburbs
By Devorah Lauter
JTA news agency
March 12, 2008

VILLEPINTE, France – Rabbi David Altabe looks older than his 27 years when he talks about the future of the Jewish community in this working-class suburb of Paris.

Altabe leans his elbows on a table set for the Sabbath and sinks his furrowed brow in his palms. “We do what we can, but it’s hard,” he says. “I don’t know why I stay. I ask myself that question all the time.”

Over a period of just three years, roughly half the Jewish families in Villepinte have left. Some have gone to other suburbs or Paris neighborhoods considered safer for Jews; a few have left the country.

Of 300 families three years ago, only 150 remain today, community president Charly Hannoun estimates. The reason, he says, is anti-Semitism.

Now Villepinte’s 40-year-old synagogue, which was torched in 1991 and 2001, is at risk of closing because there are barely enough regulars for a minyan. Jewish community leaders are wondering if Jews have a future here.

“It’s a whole history that’s being erased,” says Hannoun, who worked with contractors and friends to build the town’s synagogue. “It’s the end of the synagogue, and I say that with rage in my heart.”

Villepinte is one stark example of what is happening to many Jewish communities in the immigrant-heavy suburbs of the Seine-Saint-Denis region, north of Paris.

Scarred by the surge in anti-Semitism that swept through France between 2000 and 2005, roughly two-thirds of the mostly Sephardic Jews who once lived in these close-knit communities have left town.

Sammy Ghozlan, the president of the Seine-Saint-Denis Council of Jewish Communities, says more than 16,000 Jews have moved out of the suburbs since 2001. Left behind are synagogues weighing whether to close and mostly poor, elderly and religious Jewish families.

Experts say the Jewish flight from the suburbs is changing the demographics of France’s Jewish community and increasing the ghettoization of Jews in the country.

All of France is experiencing the problem, says University of Paris sociologist Shmuel Trigano, the author of “The Future of the Jews in France.”

“It is a general shift, not a passing crisis,” Trigano says. “The Jewish community is becoming a ghetto. It is no longer a community of choice but a community of necessity. In a democracy that shouldn’t happen.”

Though increased security has helped reduce anti-Semitic crime in France, bringing the level of anti-Jewish incidents in poorer suburbs down to the levels in Paris, the change has come too late for many suburban Jews fed up with worrying about what might happen.

Altabe says he recently had a glass bottle thrown at him from a passing car while walking with his 3-year-old child.

“If you hit us over the head enough times, we’ll protect ourselves,” says Marc Djebali, the president of the Sarcelles Jewish community, north of Paris.

Djebali says the Sarcelles community of 10,000 Jews lost about one-fifth of its population over the last decade. “We don’t attack,” he says. “The Jews just take their bags and they go.”

Jews from the northern suburbs who are wealthy enough to live in Paris are moving to eastern Paris and its suburbs, where anti-Semitism is minimal and Jewish schools are available.

“By the next generation there will be practically no more Jews in the northern Paris periphery,” says Maurice Robert Fellous, the president of the Jewish community in Noisy-le-Sec, a northern Paris suburb. “In 25 years we’ll have to sell our synagogue.”

Since 2000, nearly 40 percent of Noisy-le-Sec’s school-aged Jewish families have pulled their children from area public schools and enrolled them in Jewish institutions, Fellous says.

He attributes the shift to the area’s general anti-Jewish environment and specific incidents students have encountered, such as being beaten up and subjected to insults and taunts. Many regularly hear the cry “dirty Jew!”

This shift to Jewish schools is apparent in many places in France, albeit to a lesser degree than in Noisy-le-Sec.

Exact numbers are hard to access because by law, public schools cannot identify or count their Jewish students. Patric Petit-Ohayon, the director of the education department at the Jewish community social welfare umbrella group, the Jewish Unified Social Funds, says Jewish school enrollment in the northern Paris suburbs increased rapidly during the 2000-2005 period.

In moving their children to Jewish schools or their families out of the suburbs, many Sephardic families make a direct comparison between this migration and their families’ flights from North Africa some 40 years ago.

“They chased us from Algeria and they followed us here,” Robert Sebbane, 81, says of the North African Muslims responsible for much of France’s anti-Jewish crime.

In 2000, “we were shocked because we didn’t think this would happen here,” says Sebbane, who lives in the town of Creteil.

Even in Seine-Saint-Denis, which community leaders say is a comparatively safe area, Jewish residents are subject to anti-Semitic taunts and youths regularly spit at synagogues as they walk past.

Some religious Jews in France have warned community members not to display their yarmulkes in public.

In Villepinte, Hannoun says families started departing “very rapidly” in 2004, when “the reality of the situation set in.”

“It was horrible,” he says. “You couldn’t walk out of synagogue. Families couldn’t take it.”

Despite the drop in anti-Semitic crime, which Hannoun attributes to the declining number of Jews in town, Jews have continued to leave Villepinte.

Hannoun says he is torn between the desire to recruit new Jewish families to the neighborhood to replace those who have left and discouraging potential community members from coming to a place he fears is not good for Jews.

“Honestly, I don’t know if I want them to come,” he says, adding however that he encourages couples who cannot afford housing elsewhere to settle here.

Though he has the financial means to relocate, Hannoun says he will not move so long as he is needed by Jews in Villepinte.

“After us there’ll be nothing left,” Hannoun says. “We can’t lower our hands while we still have a role to play. It’s like being the captain on a sinking ship.”

In 2002 Hannoun’s son, Olivie, 40, moved with his family to Miami from France because of anti-Semitism.

Olivie Hannoun says he misses a lot about home, but his three children have become accustomed to life in the United States.

“They can’t understand that it can be difficult to be a Jew elsewhere,” Hannoun says. “They don’t know what that is, which is exactly what I wanted.”

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.