The Jewish Delegate Assembly of Greater Pittsburgh is greatly concerned by the spate of anti-Semitic incidents, including terror attacks, riots, violent assaults and the desecration of synagogues and other holy sites that have occurred in in Europe in the last year. The CRC recognizes the EU and the State Department’s definition of Modern anti-Semitism.*
The past three years have seen a marked increase in the rise of anti-Semitism throughout the world and particularly in Europe. This anti-Semitism has manifested itself in violent attacks and vandalism against synagogues, cemeteries, schools, and other Jewish institutions, properties, and individuals; in anti-Israel rhetoric bordering on anti-Semitism by public figures, the media, and in grassroots demonstrations; and in a widespread tolerance for, or justification of, anti-Semitic sentiments among opinion leaders.
Select European leadership has been far too slow in reacting to these manifestations, in many cases explaining even violent attacks against Jews as an extension of the Arab-Israeli conflict or as petty crimes, while perpetrators of anti-Semitic attacks have not been seriously pursued or prosecuted.
Moreover, for the last 15 years, and more recently in 2014-2015, those apparently seeking to protest Israeli policy targeted a number of Jewish institutions. Incidents were documented in the European Union and other incidents were reported around the world. In addition, in a number of anti-Israel demonstrations around the world, placards were displayed with anti-Semitic statements, including those equating Israel with Nazism and those calling for the destruction of Israel.
In future periods of tension and conflict, we urge government and community leaders to make it clear that they will not tolerate violent attacks against Jewish institutions. Furthermore, we hope that community leaders will make it clear that disagreements over the situation in the Middle East, however passionate, must be expressed with civilized speech and behavior.
Refreshingly, leaders in a number of European countries have made strong declarations condemning anti-Semitism, and some countries have announced initiatives to counter hatred against Jews in the political, educational, law enforcement, and judicial systems.
The Jewish Delegate Assembly of Greater Pittsburgh believes
- The rise of anti-Semitism globally and particularly in Europe is a significant and serious problem, and one that is deeply troubling given the unique and tragic history of the Jews in that region. This problem has serious implications not only for the Jewish communities of Europe, but also for Israel and the worldwide Jewish community.
- Recent initiatives to fight anti-Semitism are important and welcome. However, the success of these initiatives will require a sustained and serious commitment to combating anti-Semitism by these governments.
The community relations field should
- Monitor and expose developments and occurrences of anti-Semitism in Europe, including violence, vandalism, and expressions of anti-Semitic sentiment in the media and government.
- Develop an effective media relations strategy by engaging in a long term, on-going dialogue with newspapers, radio and television stations in Pittsburgh raising awareness of the problem of anti-Semitism in Europe.
- Encourage the U.S. Administration to continue using its global leadership position to impress upon world leaders the significance of anti-Semitism to the United States.
- Educate local elected officials, diplomats, media and the community on how incendiary rhetorical assaults on Israel help create a climate in which some individuals believe that their violent attacks against the Jewish community will be tolerated.
- Encourage full investigation of incidents of anti-Semitism and surveys of anti-Semitic sentiment, and encourage accurate reporting of such incidents and surveys.
- Work with non-Jewish and interfaith leadership to increase their understanding of the frequent linkages between anti-Israel rhetoric and anti-Semitism.
- Urge that existing European hate-crime and anti-discrimination laws be enforced to the fullest extent of the law; and urge those countries that do not have such laws to enact and vigorously enforce them.
*”Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” –Working Definition of Anti-Semitism by the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia