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12/8/03 - UPSURGE IN ANTI-SEMITISM - 2003-12-08

There is growing concern over the upsurge in anti-Semitism in Europe, the Middle East, and other places. On November 15th, suicide terrorists set off bombs at two synagogues in Istanbul. Some two dozen people were killed. On the same day, a Jewish school near Paris was destroyed by arsonists. Earlier in November, a synagogue near Manchester, England, was severely damaged in an arson attack.

Turkish authorities say that some of those arrested for the synagogue bombings have links to al-Qaida, the terrorist group that has declared war on Jews, Christians, moderate Muslims, and others who do not share its extremist version of Islam.

In France, President Jacques Chirac reacted to the destruction of the Jewish school by calling an emergency cabinet meeting. He declared that “an attack on a Jew is an attack against France.”

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has also spoken out against attacks on Jews. “We have just got to make it absolutely clear there will be no toleration of that at all,” he said. “We are proud in this country to have a strong Jewish community, as well as a strong Muslim community,” said Mr. Blair. “And. . .certainly all the Muslim leaders I speak to. . .condemn these attacks fiercely and believe that they represent absolutely nothing to do with the true spirit of Islam.”

In addition to violent attacks, incitements to hatred of Jews continue, most conspicuously in Arab countries. One of the most egregious examples was the dramatic television series “Al-Shatat,” or “Diaspora,” which falsely portrayed Jews as murderous people plotting to take over the world. It was produced in Syria and televised by Al-Manar, the station of the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah.

The notorious anti-Semitic forgery known as “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” also continues to be widely distributed in the Middle East and elsewhere. An Arabic version reportedly was displayed in the historic library in Alexandria, Egypt -- next to the Torah, the Jewish holy book.

Let’s hope the leaders of other countries, especially those in the Middle East, will join French President Chirac and British Prime Minister Blair in condemning anti-Semitism.