NEW YORK (Jul. 22)
Anti-Semitism is down around the world, according to the latest survey of the subject.
“Overall, the news is encouraging,” said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, which, together with the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research, issued its annual report on anti-Semitism.
He warned, however, that there is “never room for complacency when it comes to anti-Semitism.”
Anti-Semitism “hasn’t been eliminated, but it is being pushed to the margins,” he said.
The report includes an analysis of 60 countries.
It covers worldwide trends such as anti-Semitic parties and organizations, manifestations of anti-Semitism through physical violence and neo-Nazi gatherings, Holocaust denial and the spread of hate messages through the Internet.
The study found that in most of the countries it studied, anti-Semitism is a small threat to Jewish existence.
Some countries remain in need of careful monitoring, however. These include Eastern European countries such as Croatia, Belarus, Slovakia and Russia, according to Harris.
The report states that there is no way to systematically monitor the number of offenses in Russia.
Harris said the decline to some degree, is “a product of the collapse of communism and the expansion of democracy.”
But, the reports says, “evident lack of will on the part of authorities” to take “consistently firm action against those who instigate racial and ethnic hostility is a matter of great concern.”
While the level of anti-Semitic incidents declined over the year, the use of the Internet to disseminate anti-Semitic information has increased.
“As old forms of anti-Semitism recede, it can often take a new guise,” Harris said.
According to the report, however, anti-Semitism on the Internet has not demonstrated any ability to stir anti-Semites to action in a form other than the distribution of hate messages.
While the report, which covers 1996 incidents, details the levels of anti- Semitism within the boundaries of many countries, there are forms of anti- Semitism that cross these boundaries.
Harris said the use of the Internet was one of the “transnational” forms that anti-Semitism can take.
Holocaust denial is another of these transnational forms, according to Harris.
AJCommittee’s director of research, David Singer, said other issues that need careful monitoring are Islamic fundamentalism and its impact outside the Middle East; “movements that play with anti-Semitism but don’t provoke it directly,” such as Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front movement in France and anti-Semitism among Muslims in the United States.
Among the report’s other findings:
A clear increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Argentina.
For the first time in many years, the report says, Argentina’s Jews feel threatened by anti-Semitism, which comes against a backdrop of high unemployment and inequality of income distribution.
Some degree of increased anti-Semitism or incidents with anti-Semitic undertones in Australia, France, Greece, Slovakia, Sweden and Belgium.
A slight rise in anti-Semitic activity in Canada following the failure of Quebec nationalist to win a 1995 referendum on separation.
Increased anti-Semitic propaganda in Egypt following the election of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in May 1996.
Recorded incidents in Germany and the United Kingdom declined.
Despite a steep decline in Germany, however, the number of annual anti-Semitic incidents there remains the highest level on record in the world, according to the report.
In 1996, there were 846 anti-Semitic criminal offenses, down from 1,155 the year before.
The level of anti-Semitism in the United States remains stable, with hostility toward Jews far lower than toward other minority groups. The report does note, however, the increasing presence of extremist militia groups in the country.
Countries surveyed in the report are selected based on prior reports of a certain level of anti-Semitism.
Data is gathered through material supplied by Jewish communal organizations, specialists, human rights and government organizations, as well as other sources.