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By Miriam Raftery

February 17, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)—Last week,  a young Jewish man was shot and killed outside a Copenhagen synagogue. In Paris, as many as 250 Jewish graves were desecrated.  At the University of California in Davis, California earlier this month, swastikas were sprayed on a Jewish fraternity house after a demonstration by pro-Palestinian students, one of whom  proclaimed on Facebook that Hamas and Sharia law had come to the campus, prompting 23 organizations to demand an investigation to protect Jewish students’ safety. These are the latest in a string of hate crimes targeting Jewish people around the world.

It's a violent start to the New Year that continues a chilling trend.  Last year, 2014, was a year of unprecedented anti-Semitic violence worldwide, the Simon Wiesenthal Center reports. That report found that due to violent anti-Semitism, Jewish people worldwide now face the greatest challenges since the end of World War II, when 6 million Jewish people were exterminated in concentration camps by the Nazis.

 Last year was the year of ISIS, Lone Wolf terrorism, targeted murders and rapes of Jewish citizens in European democracies and anti-Jewish demonstrations in streets of Europe and on college campuses in America.    Many Jews are now fleeing Europe, fearing they have no safe future in their European homelands after hundreds of violent physical attacks, many of them deadly.

Mark Steyn, writing in Jewish World Review in January 2015, warns that “The Jews are always the canaries in the coal mine, so they won’t be the last in Europe to discover that, when it matters, the state isn’t there for you.”  Indeed, in nations such as Iraq and Egypt, Jews were the first to be violently attacked and driven out of the country, before the far more widely publicized attacks and displacement of Christians in those regions by the same Muslim extremist forces.

During the shootings of cartoonists and others at the French magazine Charlie Hebdot, the Islamic terrorists also seized a Jewish deli, killing four people.   In 2012, a rabbi and three schoolchildren in France died in an attack in front of their school, the Washington Post reported, prompting high security at schools across France and some schools denying admission to Jewish children. Other French Jews attacked recently include a disk jockey whose throat was slit and eyes gouged out,  a schoolgirl beaten by a mob chanting “Jews must die,” and a young man tortured  to death over three weeks by assailants who phoned his family and forced them to listen to his torment, Jewish World Review reports.. Numerous other sources report other disturbing crimes including an arsonist setting fire to a kosher market, a kosher restaurant that was firebombed, and two Islamic female teens who were arrested for plotting to blow up a synagogue—all in France, once a bastion of freedom and safety for Jews formerly persecuted by the Nazis.

The editor of Britain’s Jewish Chronicle told the Daily Mail that every Jew he knows has left France or is actively working to leave. Nearly 7,000 French Jews have moved to Israel  this year—double last year’s level, a rise fueled by safety fears, Tablet Magazine reported in January.

After the recent attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by inviting European Jews to take refuge in Israel, stating, “We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe,” the New York Times reports.

But Israel is far from a permanent safe haven, with Palestinians and many Arab  and Middle Eastern nations committed to the destruction of the Israeli state.  For instance, Iran’s Ayotollah Ali Khamenei  last year called for “annihilation” of Israel, Slate Magazine reported.

While the Israeli-Palestinian situation is controversial and has ignited criticisms of both sides, the attacks on Jews worldwide have not been limited to those supporting the Israeli government, faulting all Jews for the actions of Israel. Moreover the assailants have failed to recognize the free speech rights of people in western nations to support political causes regardless of popularity, seeking to kill or silence through intimidation all who disagree with pro-Palestinian views and even some Jews who have criticized Israeli policies.

In fact, Jews have been targeted solely for their faith across Europe and other parts of the world, including the U.S.

Anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise in Germany despite strong laws prohibiting hate speech.  Last year,  184 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in just two months, the Wall Street Journal reported.  Violence included torching a synagogue and attacks by anti-Israel protesters on Jews in the streets of Berlin.  Dieter Graumann, president of Germany’s Central Council on Jews, told the Guardian, “These are the worst times since the Nazi era.  On the streets you hear things like “The Jews should be gassed, The Jews should be burned.”

Britain’s Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sachs told BBC radio that many rabbis have been assaulted and attacked on streets of Europe, and Jewish schools have been burned to the ground by people seeking to silence or even ban Jewish societies on campuses.

The Jerusalem Center for Public affairs in 2004 reported a rise in anti-Semitism across Europe including firebombing of Jewish schools, desecration of synagogues and cemeteries and verbal attacks.   In 2005 the U.S. State Department warned of high rates of attacks on Jewish people even in seemingly permissive societies such as Sweden and the Netherlands.

The Netherlands, site of the recent Copenhagen attack, has among the highest incidence of anti-Semitic incidents in the European Union. The country once home to Anne Frank, whose heart-wrenching diary of hiding during Nazi occupation has been  read by millions, is once again no longer safe for Jews. The situation is so dire that in 2010 an orthodox rabbi in Amsterdam, Raphael Evers, said Jews can no longer be safe in the city anymore due to the risk of violent assaults.

In Norway, the Norwegian Broadcasting Company did research and found Jew hatred prevalent in 8th to 10th graders; students praised Hitler in schools, denigrated teachers trying to teach about the Holocaust and reportedly took one child out to the woods to hang because he was a Jew, though fortunately the child escaped.

In Malmo Sweden a synagogue was set on fire, worshippers abused on the streets and cemeteries desecrated; masked men chanted “Hitler” in the streets. Now Jewish children must attend school blocked by thick, steel security doors, the London Telegraph has reported.  At rallies flags of Hamas and Hezbollah are waved in the streets while Israel’s flag is burned.  The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights group, issued a travel advisory in 2010 warning Jews to use extreme caution if visiting southern Sweden; the Mayor of Malmo has been accused of failing to protect Jews and allowing young Muslims to harass Jewish people, according to the Telegraph’s report. 

The European Jewish Congress’s president  in 2012 called these earlier attacks “tremors before a massive earthquake” and asked that European nations react with legislation to halt incitement and halt terrorism and violent activities against Jews, which have instead escalated since then.

These alarming trends are also happening in North America.  There have been anti-Semitic attacks on synagogues, schools, cemeteries, Jewish owned homes and businesses across Canada, according to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Here in the U.S., Time Magazine reported that 60% of all 1,166 religious hate crimes investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2012 targeted Jews, who face threats in America from home-grown white supremacists as well as from Muslim immigrant extremists—violence that has spilled over to harm others.

 In April 2014, a former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan murdered three people near Jewish community centers in Kansas City.  The killer in that case, a raging anti-Semite who for decades advocated the extermination of all Jews, missed his mark however –the victims he gunned down at the Jewish Community Center were not Jewish.

Hate crimes against Jews in America have most often been property crimes, according to the Anti-Defamation League, including 315 acts of vandalism and 31 acts of violence reported to their call centers in 2013.

But not always.  Last year a rabbi was killed in Florida on his way to religious services; mourners at his funeral found their cars defaced by swastikas.  In 2012, a New York City commemoration of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp was disrupted by pro-Palestinian demonstrators, prompting Councilman David Greenfield to chastise the disruptors for showing they were not only anti-Israel, but displaying “naked, blind anti-Semitism.” ABC News reports recently that a Jewish-owned business in Washington D.C. has received phone calls threatening mass murder.   

Most recently at UC Davis, pro-Palestinian demonstrators harassed pro-Israeli demonstrators and swastikas were sprayed on a Jewish fraternity house.  A symbolic vote calling for divestiture of University of California funds from Israel was pushed through by  Muslim students, though UC regents have said they do not support the resolution. A member of the student senate, Azka  Fayyaz,  proclaimed on Facebook that “Hamas and Sharia law have taken over U.C. Davis.” Hamas is designated a terrorist group by the US State Department and by the United Nations.

Last week, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber from San Diego was reappointed chair of the California Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate.  We asked her office for a response to the anti-Semitic incidents at U.C. Davis.  The committee’s purpose is to assure that the campuses of state universities and community colleges have policies to assure safety of everyone and safety for the free expression of ideas.  

Weber’s spokesman, Joe Kucerek, told East County Magazine, “We are also committed to campuses where differences do not interfere with mutual respect required for civil discourse and a productive learning environment.  The reports of incidents of heckling, intimidation, inflammatory speech and the appearance of swastikas  on the UC Davis in conjunction with the recent divestment vote are abhorrent. We understand the UC administration and campus police were fairly swift in their response. We’ve been meeting with stakeholders and the committee will continue to monitor the administration’s response and the police investigation into this matter.”

A survey by the Anti-Defamation League in 2007 found 15% of Americans hold anti-Semitic views.  Globally,, the Brandeis Center reports that a recent Anti-Defamation League study found that there are now one billion adult anti-Semites in the world—that’s approximately one-seventh of the entire world population.

Experts believe the alarming rise in modern anti-Semitism is being fueled largely by an influx of Muslim immigrants from Arab nations, though their outspoken words and actions are also emboldening home-grown hate groups such as neo-Nazis and white Supremacists.

There are certainly some Muslims who respect the rights of all people to practice their faith, or at least would stop short of condoning violence on those with different religions.  But media too often downplay the very high rate of Muslims who hold anti-Semitic views, particularly those in or from the Middle East.

Robert Bernstein, founder of Human Rights Watch, says anti-Semitisim is “deeply ingrained and institutionalized” in Arab nations in modern times.   

A 2011 survey by Pew Research conducted in all Muslim-majority Middle Eastern countries found that the number of people there with positive views of Jews ranged from just 2% to 4%, compared to the U.S., where 82% surveyed said they have positive views of Jews.  

Moreover, dialogue from Middle Eastern media at times resembles Nazi propaganda. Newsweek has reported that “Jew hatred remains culturally endemic.”  Muslim clerics in the Middle East and elsewhere frequently have referred to Jews as descendants of apes or pigs, citing Koranic verses, also calling Christians swine, according to the Anti-Semitism documentation project published by the Middle East Media Research Institute. Some clerics have called for the deaths of all Jews.  Textbooks in many Muslim schools also refer to Jews and Christians in these derogatory terms, as well as spreading propaganda referring to Jews as miserly or greedy.   One Saudi text blames Jews for wars in modern times and predicts an apocalyptic fight that will end in victory over all Jews.  A Saudi newspaper suggested that hatred of all Jews is justifiable.

A U.S. State Department report in 2008 found a rise in anti-Semitism worldwide, CNN reported, as did a 2012 report by the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, the State Department reported in 2013.  

Kenneth Marcus, president and general counsel of the Louis D Brandeis Center, wrote in an article published on the Center’s website, “To ignore the dangers of resurgent worldwide anti-Semitism is to misunderstand the ways in which we will all be touched by developments around the world, whether we choose to recognize them or not.”

In the past year alone, the Wiesenthal Center’s list of the 10 worst anti-semitic actions included a Belgium doctor refusing medical help to a 90-year-old woman with a fractured rib, telling her son to “Send her to Gaza.” In Paris, anti-Semitic assailants conducted a home invasion, tying up and raping a Jewish couple, insisting Jews always have money.

In Hungary, where over a half million Jews perished in the Holocaust, the mayor of one town hanged Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanhayhu in effigy; an anti-Semitic political party is gaining political power and influence.

 In Belgium, a café hung a sign reading “Dogs welcome, Jews not,” and in Brussels demonstrators chanted “Death to the Jews.”  Terrorists murdered three rabbis outside a Jewish museum in Brussels, attacking them with axes and cleavers, leaving them dead in a pool of blood. Three of the rabbis were American citizens.

Jew-haters have increasingly also sought to deny historical facts through holocaust denial. Israel was established by the United Nations as a save haven for Jews after World War II, so holocaust deniers seek to discredit the legitimacy of the Israeli state as well as reduce empathy for crimes against Jewish people. The United States Holocaust Museum Memorial has detailed information on its website documenting the holocaust tragedies and advising the public how to recognize and combat holocaust denial.  Holocaust denial is a crime in many European nations, but is tolerated in the U.S. due to First Amendment free speech protections, unless the messages incite violence.

For Holocaust survivors and descendants who lost loved ones, as well as to Jewish people everywhere, the growing anti-Semitism and violence targeting Jews are frightening – chilling reminders of a past all hoped would they would never have to face again.

A troubling aspect of the rising tide of hatred against Jews is the lack of coverage by major media.

When three Muslim-Americans were shot and killed by a neighbor in North Carolina over what authorities call a parking dispute, the story made national and international news headlines.  But where is the international media attention, the global outrage, over the cold-blooded murders and systematic efforts to terrify Jews around the world?   Even in the U.S., many Americans are unaware of the blood being shed by Jewish people under attack across Europe or their near extermination in the Middle East.

What can be done to reverse this rising tide of violence, hate crimes and intimidation targeting Jews?

The Simon Wiesenthal Center urges “people of good faith everywhere" to commit in 2015 to "break the apathy and silence and to stand up and speak out against history’s oldest hate wherever it rears its ugly head. “

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Wrong end of the binoculars.

Please forward this article to President Obama, perhaps he will discover he is looking through the wrong end of the binoculars.