SPECIAL FOR THE AJT //
A resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe, Iran’s subterfuge on the road toward nuclear weapons capability and the vote at the United Nations to upgrade the status of the Palestinian delegation topped the Anti-Defamation League’s annual list of top issues affecting Jews in 2012.
“While it isn’t always true, this year was a year with particular emphasis on events overseas,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL National Director. “For us at ADL – and, indeed, for the entire Jewish community in America, which has long assumed responsibility for the well-being of Jews abroad, including in Israel – these are matters of great concern.”
Here’s a snapshot of the ADL’s Top 10 issues:
1. Anti-Semitism Resurgent in Europe
Three countries witnessed the rise of anti-Semitic political parties in parliament, and the Jewish community in France witnessed another upsurge in violent attacks. A survey in 10 European countries revealed anti-Semitic attitudes at disturbingly high levels.
In April, one in six Hungarian voters cast ballots for an anti-Semitic party, Jobbik, in national elections. The following month, Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn won 21 seats in parliament. And, in November, the radical Svoboda party of Ukraine captured 12 percent of the popular vote.
But perhaps no country in Europe was more susceptible to violent anti-Semitism than France, where a series of attacks left the Jewish community on edge.
On March 19 in Toulouse, four Jews were killed at the Ozar Hatorah School by a terrorist on a motorcycle (later identified as Mohammed Merah). Before he was killed by authorities, Merah stated that he targeted the Jewish school to avenge “the killing of children” in Gaza.
2. Iran: Sanctions and Subterfuge
As new sanctions against Iran’s banking, petrochemical and energy sectors took force, the economy floundered. But the regime remained defiant in its open pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s February 2012 report noted that Iran’s stockpile of 20-percent-enriched uranium increased by almost half, significantly shortening the time needed to further enrich the uranium to weapons-grade material, and that Iran had begun production of enriched uranium at a heavily defended installation deep underground.
The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran was underscored by the regime’s open embrace of the Hamas assault on Israel as well as its promise to supply the Gaza-based terrorist organization with more powerful rockets to target Israeli cities.
3. The United Nations Vote to Upgrade ‘Palestine’
The United Nations General Assembly, in a lopsided vote that revealed once again the world body’s determined bias against Israel, approved on Nov. 29 an upgrade of the Palestinian delegation from an observer entity to that of “non-member state observer” with a count of 138 nations in favor, 9 opposed and 41 abstentions.
Voting against the resolution were the United States, Israel, Czech Republic, Canada, Panama, Marshall Island, Micronesia, Palau and Nauru.
European nations were strongly criticized by Jewish organizations for capitulating to Arab intimidation and pressure for voting in favor of or abstaining to the upgrade and reverting back to the traditional anti-Israel sentiment and lack of objectivity.
4. Gaza Rockets Met with Israeli Airstrikes
After an incessant barrage of rocket and missile attacks on Israeli towns and cities from Gaza, Israel launched “Operation Pillar of Defense” in an effort to defend its citizens and destroy the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.
During the Israeli military operation, which consisted mostly of airstrikes, more than 800 rockets fell on Israeli towns and cities. Meanwhile, Israel’s operation targeted senior Hamas terrorist leaders and managed to successfully destroy weapons factories and rocket-launching sites.
The U.S. and Egypt were able to serve as constructive mediators in an attempt to reach a ceasefire, which took effect Nov. 21.
5. Campaign 2012 and Efforts to Woo the Jewish Vote
The 2012 U.S. presidential election made history, with an African-American incumbent, Democratic President Barack Obama, facing off against a Mormon challenger, Republican Govenor Mitt Romney.
Despite their minority status, neither candidate placed an emphasis on his religious and racial identity, and the electorate seemed more concerned about which of the two was most qualified to lead the country out of a crippling economic recession than about matters of ethnicity or faith.
Both campaigns made unprecedented efforts to woo Jewish voters. Gov. Romney traveled to Israel in June, held fundraisers and meetings in Jerusalem and criticized the Obama Administration’s approach toward the Jewish State; President Obama argued that the security relationship between Israel and the U.S. had never been stronger.
In the end, an estimated 70 percent of American Jews voted to re-elect President Obama.
6. Rumor Jews Were Behind Anti-Muslim Film
The story cooked up by a Los Angeles filmmaker sounded vaguely implausible – that 100 Jewish investors had been recruited to finance an amateurish yet highly incendiary anti-Muslim film called “Innocence of Muslims.”
But by the time the lie was deconstructed, it was too late. The trailer for the film, translated into Arabic and posted on YouTube, sparked violent protests around the world and led to attacks and demonstrations in front of Israeli and American embassies in some two-dozen Muslim and Arab countries.
While the film was eventually revealed as work of a Coptic Christian with a criminal record and hateful motives, the myth that Jews produced and financed the film in an effort to insult the Prophet Muhammad and Islam had gone viral.
7. Primary Presidential Candidates Mix Religion, Politics
Repeated inappropriate references to religion and divisive faith-based voter appeals marked the 2012 presidential primary campaign.
Highlights ranged from Sen. Rick Santorum commenting that President Kennedy’s celebrated speech on separation of church and state made him “want to throw up” to Gov. Rick Perry running a television ad saying “there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”
8. Olympic Committee Refuses to Honor Munich 11
Continuing to show a stubborn insensitivity to the memory of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Games, the International Olympic Committee refused a request to hold a moment of silence at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Games in London.
While the IOC held several spontaneous commemorations, including a moment of silence in the Olympic Village, the 40th anniversary of the murder of Israeli athletes and coaches at the hands of Palestinian terrorists passed without so much as an official acknowledgement during the main Olympic ceremonies.
9. U.S. Jewish Community on Alert As Year Begins, Ends with Anti-Semitic Incidents
The year began with the news in early January that five Molotov cocktails had been thrown at a Jewish congregation in Rutherford, N.J.
The hostilities in Gaza raised new concerns about Jewish institutional security in this country and abroad, and as 2012 came to a close, several Jewish communities across the U.S. reported additional anti-Semitic acts, among them the vandalism of a menorah on the quad at Northeastern University (where anti-Semitic fliers were also discovered) and anti-Jewish graffiti on Chanukah displays in South Florida.
10. Deafening Silence in Face of Hamas Celebration to ‘Destroy’ Israel
In the aftermath of the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas in the south, Hamas held a series of “victory rallies” in which prominent Hamas officials vowed never to recognize Israel.
As the year wound to a close, Hamas was scheduled to hold additional rallies in the West Bank to mark the 25th anniversary of the Islamic movement. Meanwhile, and despite the maximalist rhetoric from Hamas leaders calling for the destruction of the Jewish state and the takeover of Jerusalem and Haifa and Jaffa, much of the world remained silent.
The ADL, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.