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Jews in West Europe Are Targets of International Terrorism

October 22, 1981
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West European Jews are the targets of international terrorism even though they are relatively secure in their respective countries, according to a survey by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. The survey was released on the eve of the ADL’s National Executive Committee meeting here at the Fairmont Hotel which concludes Sunday.

Abraham Foxman, ADL’s associate national director and head of its International Affairs Division, said the survey revealed that Jews and Jewish institutions “face very real threats — including threats to their physical safety — because of bombings, assassinations, attempted assassinations, assaults and vandalism.” The countries examined by ADL were Austria, Belgium, England, France, Italy and West Germany.

Terrorist acts are not only aimed against Jews, Foxman declared, but, increasingly, against American military personnel and installations in Western Europe and against other European groups and individuals in an attempt to destabilize society and bring down democratic governments.

The perpetrators of these acts, he said, are well-organized networks of terrorists and extremists including the Palestine Liberation Organization, other Arab terrorists, neo-Nazis and far left extremists — that cross national boundaries.


The ADL study further noted that many terrorist factions on the right and left cooperate with each other in attacks on Jews, Israelis and Zionist groups. PLO terrorists, the report went on, train West European right wing paramilitary groups, and Libya funds ultra-leftists, who provide support for PLO and other Arab terrorists in Europe.

Many or all of the groups operating in Western Europe, the report said, have been responsible for terrorist incidents in the past two years, the most prominent of which were the fatal bombings of synagogues in Paris in October, 1980 and Vienna last August, the murders of a West German businessman and a non-Jew who headed the Austria-Israeli Friendship Society earlier this year, and the slaying of a 15-year-old Jewish boy in Antwerp in July, 1980 when a hand grenade was tossed at a bus carrying youths to a Jewish summer camp.

Not only are Jewish lives threatened, the ADL report said, but Jews are victims of many other types of anti-Semitic acts carried out by neo-Nazi and other rightwing extremists and paramilitary groups.

These include harassment and intimidation through militant rallies and marches designed to provoke violence and attract headlines; acts of vandalism such as cemetery desecrations; intimidating letters and threatening phone calls, and the wide-spread distribution of “vicious” anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist propaganda materials through newspapers and handbills.


The terrorists, according to the ADL findings, operate effectively despite the fact that they are few in numbers and do not have mass followings — and despite the fact that West European Jews are prominent in public and professional life and reside in nations which have a “healthy” state of democracy.

The threat may grow even greater in the future, the report went on, with unemployment and economic uncertainty — the historic situation for scapegoating Jews — contributing to the impact of anti-Semitic acts and propaganda.

Turning to the menace posed by the PLO, the report declared that the “PLO and its assorted factions continue to demonstrate the ability to bomb and shoot selected targets, virtually at will. Their ability to do so rests in large measure on the fact that they enjoy the support of the Soviet Union, other Communist and Arab states and ultra-leftist and rightist groups which make common cause against Jews, Israel, the United States and democratic forms of government.”

In detailing the activities of neo-Nazi and other extreme rightist movements, the ADL report stated that “they are few in numbers and without significant political influence. But they constitute a serious threat to the security of European Jewry because of their ability to bomb and terrorize Jewish targets.”

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