European Officials Refuse to Release Anti-Semitism Report

By Mike Wendling | July 7, 2008 | 8:14 PM EDT

London ( - An European agency responsible for monitoring racism has suppressed a report on anti-Semitism because it found that Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups were behind many of the incidents, an author of the study alleged Monday.

The Vienna-based European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) commissioned the report by the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at Berlin's Technical University after an upsurge in anti-Semitic violence in early 2002.

The EUMC declined to release the findings after senior officials at the monitoring center said that there were problems with the data used.

But Juliane Wetzel, a co-author of the report, told that the decision was "political" and that EUMC officials shelved the report because they did not agree with the conclusions of the researchers.

Wetzel said that although she had not received an official decision about the report "we know from other people that it will obviously not be published."

"What the real reasons are for this decision are mysterious, but we have the impression that it's mostly political," Wetzel said by phone from Berlin.

EUMC was upset by several of the conclusions, she said, including findings that most of the perpetrators of anti-Semitic violence in the countries studied were young Muslims of Palestinian origin.

"These perpetrators are themselves discriminated against and they're searching for a scapegoat for their situations," she said.

The study found that those involved in anti-Semitic activities are influenced by Arab media and by conspiracy theories about Jews floating around the Internet, Wetzel said.

The study also attempted to provide a precise definition of anti-Semitism and that EUMC officials may have been upset by the terms of reference used.

Wetzel said that by the researchers' definition, comparing Israeli policies to the policies of Nazi Germany "may cross the line into anti-Semitism." Also potentially anti-Semitic is the questioning of the legitimacy of the existence of Israel, the researchers said.

Another potential area of racial abuse they set out was the blaming of European Jews for allegedly discriminatory policies of Israel.

"This is something that has come mainly from left-wing groups" and might have formed another potential sticking point for the EUMC, Wetzel said.

"Obviously Jews in the U.K., Germany, France or Denmark are not responsible for the policies of Israel. These are two different things," she said.

The EUMC has vigorously denied the allegations.

"This decision was based on the poor quality of the data, not on political grounds," said John Kellock, director of communications at the monitoring center.

Kellock said the time period covered by the study - May to June 2002 - was too short to provide meaningful conclusions. In addition, he said that the researchers had used information from outside that period when evidence from the two months was scant, further muddying the results.

"The researchers made generalizations about (E.U.) member states and residents that weren't backed up by the evidence," Kellock said. "Actions by individuals are not representative of their communities."

Kellock said the monitoring center would be publishing its own report into anti-Semitism in Europe in the first quarter of 2004.

"We're doing extensive work on anti-Semitism," he said.

Due to contractual obligations, the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism could not release its report, but according to a copy seen by the London Financial Times , the study concluded that "anti-Semitic incidents in the monitoring period were committed above all by right-wing extremists and radical Islamists or young Muslims."

The newspaper reported that some senior staff at the anti-Semitism center also objected to the researchers' definition of anti-Semitism and viewed the sections on radical Islamists and pro-Palestinian groups as inflammatory.

Anti-Semitism on the rise

Anecdotal reports indicate that anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise in Europe since the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada three years ago. Ethnic tensions have also been heightened by the Sept. 11 attacks and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The deadliest recent incident occurred in E.U. candidate country Turkey earlier this month, when suicide bombers killed 25 in coordiated attacks on two synagogues. On the same day in Paris, a Jewish school was firebombed.

Following the Paris attack, French President Jacques Chirac ordered a crackdown on anti-Semitic violence, established a committee to be led by Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and announced a regeneration program aimed at poor Muslim areas in French cities.

France has Western Europe's largest populations of both Jews (around 600,000) and Muslims (five million).

In an interview published Monday on web site, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said anti-Semitism is rife across Europe and accused European leaders of not doing enough to combat it.

"What we are facing in Europe is an anti-Semitism that has always existed and it really is not a new phenomenon," he said. "This anti-Semitism exists and what pushes it is a collective anti-Semitism that incorporates Israel into this equation."

Sharon said that Europe could play a "stronger and central role" in the Middle East peace process if it had a "more balanced policy" toward Israel.

See Earlier Story:
Israel Troubled by Poll Calling It A Threat to World Peace
(Nov. 4, 2003)

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.