- Anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli manifestations reached post-Second World War highs during Israel’s recent Gaza campaign. Attacks came from many directions. They included strong condemnations of Israeli actions by several governments as well as partly violent demonstrations in a number of countries. Furthermore, there were physical attacks on Jewish individuals as well as institutions. There was also much hate speech.
- A number of new hate thresholds were crossed. There were much-increased public expressions of equating Israel with Nazi Germany. Calls for the murder of Jews abounded for the first time in demonstrations in Germany, as well as in the United States. Prominent politicians, including the Norwegian finance minister, marched in such protests. There are indications that a variety of Muslim bodies, including mosque organizations, had planned these events well in advance.
- A number of actions by various independent Muslim bodies in several Western countries manifested their desire to conquer the public square and, at the same time, remove Jewish and Israeli identities from it. This development is relevant not only to Jews but also to the general public. Those who want to impose themselves in the public domain today at the expense of Jews, are likely to do so tomorrow at the expense of others.
- The Gaza war has shown once again that Israel can cope with the many military challenges it faces. On the other hand, the problems of the asymmetric verbal war conducted against it by circles from the United Nations, several Western political parties, media, academe, NGOs, and many others have never been properly analyzed by the Israeli authorities. Understanding how this anti-Israeli propaganda functions, and internally interacts, is necessary for gradually building adequate defenses in this area as well.
During Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, which lasted from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009, anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli manifestations reached post-Second World War highs. One indicator of the growth in expressed hate is that during this period the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain increased eightfold to 220 compared to the same period a year earlier. Estimates of the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism put the worldwide increase of anti-Semitic incidents at 300 percent. Hate emails to the umbrella body of the Jewish community in Germany were up 40 percent. They now stand at 200-300 per week.
Attacks came from many directions. Several governments strongly condemned the Israeli military actions; some Western media were harshly negative toward Israel despite the fact that it was facing a terrorist movement that promotes genocide in its charter. There were accusations from many sides, several of which later turned out to be false. NGOs charged Israel with a variety of alleged violations of international law such as “crimes against humanity” and “war crimes.” There were some decisions as well as attempts at anti-Israeli boycotts.
Muslims formed the majority of the participants in anti-Israeli demonstrations in numerous countries. Often there were shouts of “Death to the Jews” or similar slogans. Equations of Israel with Nazi Germany were frequent. Several such protests turned violent. There were also pro-Israeli demonstrations, a number of which were violently attacked.
Among the physical attacks on Jewish individuals, the worst occurred in Denmark where two Israelis were shot. There were arson and vandalism attempts against synagogues in countries such as France, Belgium, Sweden, Britain, Italy, and the Netherlands. There were also attacks on cemeteries, kosher restaurants, and other Jewish businesses.
The number of actions and incidents is so major that no complete picture can be obtained at this time. The information below, however, provides a strategic overview of the issues at stake. It should be noted, though, that little attention has been given to the Arab and Muslim world where demonization of Israel and Jews is often an ongoing phenomenon.
Although the scope of events mentioned below is sizable, one should not conclude that a majority of people in all Western countries are against Israel and the Jews. A determined group of anti-Israelis and anti-Semites, however, can create an atmosphere that makes it appear to be so, partly due to readiness for violence. This is even further exacerbated by the distortion of the facts and context of the conflict by many media.
I. GOVERNMENT REACTIONS
Anti-Israeli Government Declarations and Actions
Among the countries that condemned Israel severely were Iran, Syria , Venezuela, and Cuba. A major new development was the Turkish leadership’s alignment with these countries. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Israel’s actions “crimes against humanity” and said Israel was using “disproportionate force.” This was one of the frequent false claims against Israel.
Dr. Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, explained during the war that “from a purely legal perspective, Israel’s current military actions in Gaza are on solid ground. According to international law, Israel is not required to calibrate its use of force precisely according to the size and range of the weaponry used against it. (Israel is not expected to make Kassam rockets and lob them back into Gaza.)”
Erdoğan, however, stated while addressing his parliament: “They say my criticism is harsh, I assume it is not as harsh as phosphorus bombs or fire from tanks…. I am reacting as a human and a Muslim.” The Turkish prime minister was extremely vocal against the Israeli operations in Gaza. Regarding the international community he said that “those who will remain silent to this aggression will give its account in front of history.” He also claimed that “the dignity of humanity is being killed in Gaza.” Erdoğan has never used similar language concerning genocidal intentions and murderous behavior in the Muslim world. According to the working definition of the European Union, the use of such double standards is anti-Semitic.
Referring to Erdoğan’s remarks about Israel, Soner Cagaptay wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “Mr. Erdogan’s rhetoric, meanwhile, has reached Islamist fever pitch.” Some of the Turkish prime minister’s statements contained classic anti-Semitic motifs. For example, when speaking to the Turkish parliament on 13 January 2009 he accused Jews of “controlling the media and intentionally targeting civilians.” He also asserted that the “media outlets supported by Jews are disseminating false reports on what happens in Gaza, finding unfounded excuses to justify targeting of schools, mosques and hospitals.”
Erdoğan’s outburst against Israel is not unique and has to be seen in the context of his efforts to slowly Islamize Turkey. His rhetoric toward the Israeli democracy casts additional doubt on Turkey’s suitability to join the European Union. In implicitly taking the side of Hamas , which the EU defines as a terrorist organization, Turkey’s attitude is far more severe than that of even the European countries most critical of Israel.
Erdoğan also created an incident at the World Economic Forum in Davos, storming off the stage after the moderator, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, cut him short as he was responding to Israeli president Shimon Peres’s speech defending the Israeli operation in Gaza.
Erdoğan’s behavior was applauded by Iranian authorities. Yahya Rahim Safavi, security adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said that “Erdoğan’s…courageous actions at the Davos summit against the war crimes of the Zionist regime…are evidence of the Islamic awakening among the Turkish people-a result of the influence of Iran’s Islamic Revolution.”
Countries Break Relations
The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, also strongly criticized Israel. He claimed that “the Holocaust, that is what is happening right now in Gaza.” He added that both the president of Israel and the president of the United States should be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Chavez also expelled all Israeli diplomats from Caracas and cut diplomatic ties with Israel.
Following Chavez’s decision, Bolivian president Evo Morales decided to cut ties with Israel as well. He announced that he would seek genocide charges against top Israeli officials at the ICC and even recommended stripping Peres of his Nobel Peace Prize.
On 5 January, Mauritania, the only Arab country besides Jordan and Egypt that has official relations with Israel, ordered its ambassador in Tel Aviv to return for consultations. On 17 January, Mauritania decided to freeze political and economic ties. In early March it asked Israel to close its embassy in Nouakchott.
Qatar, the only Gulf Arab state that has some ties with Israel, asked Israel to close its trade office in Doha and remove its staff until the situation improved. Qatar also closed its trade office in Israel.
The attitudes of governments of EU countries toward the conflict diverged greatly. Countries such as Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and Hungary showed great understanding for Israel’s actions and described them as self-defense. They put the blame for the war unequivocally on Hamas.
During the Gaza campaign the presidency of the EU changed. On 1 January 2009, the Czech Republic assumed this position from France. In the week after the ground operations in Gaza began, two EU diplomatic delegations visited Israel and other Middle Eastern countries. At that time, French president Nicolas Sarkozy called for a forty-eight-hour humanitarian ceasefire but Israel rejected this. The European delegation, headed by Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, came without any specific proposals; he mentioned that there was great diversity of views in the group.
The most critical voice among EU governments was that of Irish foreign minister Micheál Martin. He condemned the Israeli air strikes as “devastating” and said they were offensive operations. Martin also condemned the firing of rockets into Israeli territory. He described the Israeli ground operation as “indiscriminate attacks” and stated that the continuation of the operation “cannot be justified in any way and must now be brought to an immediate end.”
Martin had told the members of the Dáil, the Irish parliament, that “prior to any conflict, the government and I had consistently condemned the Hamas rocket attacks in southern Israel.” However, an article by Bruce Arnold in the Irish newspaper Independent revealed that throughout the whole of 2008, when rocket attacks were taking place, none of the minister’s or his predecessor’s press statements on the Middle East mentioned Hamas. As Arnold wrote: “There has been no ‘consistent condemnation,’ indeed no condemnation at all.”
Sweden was the other EU country whose overall position was condemnatory of Israel. Foreign Minister Carl Bildt described the Israeli air strikes as a “serious continuation of the escalation of the tension.” He acknowledged, however, that before the war erupted Hamas had refused to renew the ceasefire, stating that “although this ceasefire did not live up to expectations-particularly with regard to alleviating the Israeli blockade of Gaza-it would have been better for everyone if it had continued to be respected.” He also described Israel’s policy of isolating Hamas-run Gaza as “counterproductive.”
The government of Norway, a non-EU country, was also generally negative toward Israel. Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said, among other things, that “The Israeli ground offensive in Gaza constitutes a dramatic escalation of the conflict. Norway strongly condemns any form of warfare that causes severe civilian suffering, and calls on Israel to withdraw its forces immediately.” He added that “Gaza is the world’s most densely populated area, and the effects of a ground invasion on a long-suffering civilian population that has endured a strict closure regime for many years, and now many days of military attacks, will be extremely grave.”
In his eagerness to condemn Israel, Støre repeated a frequently used fallacy. The Gaza Strip is far from being the world’s most densely populated area. Singapore, Hong Kong, or even the Tel Aviv metropolitan area are more crowded.
Demonstrations against Israel spread rapidly. Extreme Muslim and left-wing bodies had seen the Gaza campaign coming. Several Jewish community leaders believe that the anti-Israelis were well organized and much better prepared than the Jewish community and its allies.
Prof. Dina Porat, head of Tel Aviv University’s Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, asserted that the reactions to Operation Cast Lead proved that Muslims in Europe had “prepared in advance a public campaign against Jews and Israel, which they see as one and the same” and that they “were waiting for a signal or a pretext to launch this campaign and the Nazism comparison.” According to Porat, this Nazism association was most effective when left-wing Europeans cooperated with Muslims.
She commented that “Europeans are burdened by the Holocaust, and accusing the victims of being like the Nazis helps distribute some of the burden and guilt.” Porat made these statements at a gathering of the World Jewish Congress on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
There is confirmation of this collaboration from an Arab source. Dr. Kemal Helbawy, former spokesman of the International Organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, stated that there was coordination between the Brotherhood and Jewish organizations, such as the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions and Jews against Zionism, to organize demonstrations in London.
In London, major anti-Israeli demonstrations took place and some of them turned violent. At one, six hundred demonstrators scuffled with police outside the Israeli embassy. On 3 January, five thousand demonstrators broke off from a larger group of twelve thousand, organized by the Stop the War coalition. They burned Israeli flags and hurled projectiles including fireworks at police officers. A week later, another protest was organized by the same group that once again became violent. According to the Metropolitan Police twenty thousand people attended, but the BBC estimated that there were fifty thousand. Some protesters smashed the windows of a Starbucks cafe and three police officers were injured as people threw projectiles.
London was the location of one of Europe’s largest pro-Israeli demonstrations as well. On 11 January, according to the organizers’ estimates, fifteen thousand people showed their support for Israel under the banner “Peace in Israel, Peace in Gaza.” Speakers included Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor, and a number of British MPs.
Paris was another place where major demonstrations took place. An initial anti-Israeli rally with 1,400 participants was peaceful. On 3 January, the largest anti-Israeli protest in France was attended by twenty-one thousand demonstrators, of whom five hundred became violent. They threw objects at the police, burned Israeli flags, torched cars, and vandalized several shops. Ten police officers were injured in the clashes and twenty protesters arrested. A day later, a pro-Israeli rally was attended by twelve thousand people according to the organizers and four thousand according to police estimates.
There were many anti-Israeli demonstrations in Germany as well, including in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, and Berlin. In Berlin, Hamas and Hizballah were saluted and an Israeli flag was burned.  After many decades, the slogan “Death to the Jews” came back to Berlin, this time shouted mainly by Muslims. During a pro-Palestinian march in Duisburg, the police removed two Israeli flags from the balconies of private apartments. Pro-Israeli demonstrations were held in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich; altogether two thousand people took part.
During the Second Lebanon War in summer 2006, anti-Jewish incidents in Norway included shooting at the synagogue in Oslo, which was the most severe incident in Europe. This time Norway pioneered a new manifestation of anti-Israeli hate. It was the only country where a government minister, Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen, leader of the Socialist Left Party, marched against Israel in a demonstration where shouts of “Death to the Jews” were heard-though this was largely ignored by the Norwegian media. An Israeli daily, however, published the story, which also mentioned that the Israeli embassy had protested.
During a demonstration in Oslo in which an estimated forty thousand people participated, rocks and eggs were thrown at policemen when a smaller group refused to leave after it was announced that the demonstration was over. On 8 January, one thousand pro-Palestinian protestors came to a pro-Israeli rally organized by the opposition Progress Party armed with knives, baseball bats, and Molotov cocktails. The police prevented them from attacking the Israel supporters, but the hooligans then started attacking the police and smashed shop windows on a major Oslo street. Six people were wounded, including five policemen. The twenty-six people arrested were of thirteen nationalities, including Pakistani, Palestinian, Turkish, Moroccan, Iranian, Jordanian, Somali, Iraqui, and Afghan immigrants.
Johan Fredriksen, chief of staff of the Oslo police, remarked that “you have to go back to the early 1980s to find a similar situation in Norway.” After she addressed a pro-Israeli gathering, Siv Jensen, leader of the Progress Party, had to have permanent bodyguards because of the many threats she received.
There were large anti-Israeli demonstrations in Sweden as well. Thanks mainly to Swedish bloggers, it is known that prominent members of the Social Democrats-the country’s largest party-took part in hate demonstrations against Israel. Mona Sahlin, the party’s leader, participated in a rally in Stockholm where Hizballah and Hamas flags were flown and an Israeli flag was burned. Jan Eliasson, the former foreign minister, and Wanja Lundby Wedin, chair of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation, also took part in that event.
In Norrköping, another senior Social Democrat, Lars Stjernkvist, spoke at a demonstration with a Hizballah flag as well as swastikas in the background. A blogger captured this with his camera. When it became news, the local Social Democrat newspaper Folkbladet criticized the blogger for making an item out of it. In Göteborg, white cloths with Israeli symbols were burned. In Malmö, another Social Democrat parliamentarian, Luciano Astudillo, spoke as someone next to him held up a picture of Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Also in the Netherlands there were a number of anti-Israeli marches. In Amsterdam, two parliamentarians of the extreme-Left Socialist Party, Harry van Bommel and Sadet Karabulut, joined with other demonstrators in shouting “Intifada, intifada, Palestine free.”
Bram Moszkowicz, a well-known Dutch lawyer, filed a complaint with the attorney-general against the two politicians for incitement to hate, discrimination, and violence. He said they were both leaders of this demonstration, where shouts of “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” could be heard in the background. According to Moszkowicz, since the two parliamentarians did not dissociate themselves from these calls, they should be considered as identifying with them. Among the thirty bodies that had sponsored this demonstration were several Muslim organizations, including the Turkish Milli Görüs and the Council of Moroccan Mosques of the Netherlands, as well as the International Socialists (an extreme left-wing group), the Dutch Palestine Committee, and a small anti-Zionist Jewish group, Ander Joods Geluid.
One banner at the demonstration proclaimed that “Anne Frank is turning in her grave.” The abuse of Anne Frank’s memory to support Palestinian society, which is heavily permeated with calls for the genocide of Jews, has occurred on various occasions in the Netherlands. These are typical cases of Holocaust inversion.
On 11 January, there was a large demonstration in Brussels where Israeli flags were burned and children carried effigies of dead and bloodied babies. On 16 February, the umbrella body of Belgian Jewish organizations, CCOJB, submitted a formal complaint concerning racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia to the Center for Equal Opportunities and the Fight against Racism. The CCOJB made accusations against three of the Wallonian parties-the Socialist PS, the Christian CDH, and the Green Ecolo-as well as trade unions and eighty-six NGOs that had organized the demonstration.
The CCOJB noted that this supposedly “peaceful” demonstration had turned into a major outburst of anti-Semitism on the streets of Brussels. Banners showed Jews as devils, or equated them with Nazis; others referred to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Yet other signs compared Gaza to Auschwitz. The CCOJB stated that these were both morally and legally condemnable.
In Athens, three thousand demonstrators marched and threw rocks at the Israeli embassy. They also threw firebombs at police officials. The demonstrations came after weeks of major unrelated unrest that erupted after a teenager was killed by police. In Nicosia, demonstrators attacked “riot police with rocks, sticks, shoes, and oranges near the Israeli embassy.” In Rome, thousands marched carrying signs that “showed swastikas superimposed on the Star of David.” There were demonstrations in Milan, Turin, and Venice as well. One of the most impressive pro-Israeli demonstrations took place on 14 January in Rome. More than a hundred parliamentarians from different parties participated. In Barcelona, thirty thousand people marched against Israel “carrying bloodstained blankets and mock dead bodies of children.” In Madrid, according to the estimates of the organizers, 250,000 people took part in a pro-Palestinian demonstration. One of the speakers claimed that the Gaza Strip was a concentration camp.
Probably the largest anti-Israeli demonstrations took place in Turkey, where hundreds of thousands of protesters marched in various locations. An estimated two hundred thousand participated in a demonstration organized by a minor Islamist party in Istanbul. There were also sizable demonstrations in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir and in other places as well.
In the United States, there were numerous demonstrations against Israel. The participants were mainly Arabs and other Muslims. There were also demonstrations in Australia and New Zealand. In Sydney, a Jewish man was attacked at a pro-Palestinian rally. In Wellington, New Zealand, a Catholic priest, Father Gerard Burn, sprinkled red paint, mixed with a drop of his own blood, on the memorial monument to Yitzhak Rabin. On 14 January, in South Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Fatima Hajaig told a pro-Palestinian rally that “the control of America, just like the control of most Western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money.” She later apologized for her remarks.
In Argentina, after a demonstration a leader of an extreme-Left group called Jews “rats” on a major radio channel. Some participants marched on the building of the Jewish AMIA organization wearing T-shirts of Hizballah, which an Argentinean court accused of bombing that building in 1994, killing eighty-five and wounding hundreds. The head of the National Institute against Discrimination (INADI) remained silent about the many anti-Semitic manifestations in the country.
III. ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS
There were a large number of anti-Semitic incidents in many places, far more than during the Second Lebanon War. Once again, the most severe case occurred in Scandinavia. In a shopping mall in the Danish town of Odense, two Israelis were shot and wounded. A Danish suspect of Lebanese origin with Palestinian parents was arrested.
In terms of the quantity of anti-Semitic incidents, France and Britain led the way. In France, there were numerous attacks against synagogues. A burning car was rammed into the gates of a synagogue in Toulouse. In Villeneuve-St-Georges near Paris, a synagogue door was torched, while in another suburb a young man was stabbed four times when two men recognized a Jewish symbol on his necklace.
In Lingolsheim, Alsace, the front door of the synagogue was sprayed with “Assassins!” and “Long Live Israeli Democracy.” In Metz, during a pro-Palestinian march, two hundred youths approached the synagogue but were kept back by police. In Toulon, a car was set on fire in the parking lot of the synagogue. In Villeurbanne, near Lyon, the windows of a synagogue were broken. In Paris, a yellowish liquid was thrown at a synagogue. In another incident, posters with the slogan “Get out of Gaza” were stuck to the walls of a synagogue. In Sedan, the windows of a synagogue were broken and a cross was sprayed on the wall. In St. Denis, near Paris, Molotov cocktails were thrown at a synagogue and the windows were broken. The same occurred in Schiltigheim in Alsace. On 13 January, in Lille, a swastika and ZOG (Zionist Occupation Government) were painted near the door of the synagogue. On 14 January, in Mulhouse, Alsace, slogans such as “Death to Israel,” “Long live Palestine,” and “F–k France” were scrawled on the wall of the synagogue.
The Community Security Trust, a British Jewish defense organization, reported a selection of the many incidents suffered by the community. These included an arson attack on a synagogue in North London, two assaults on visibly Jewish men by pro-Palestinian supporters, anti-Israeli daubings on synagogues and other Jewish buildings, and anti-Semitic graffiti in areas known for their Jewish communities. The Sun, reported that an Islamic extremist website had posted a list of prominent British Jews to target; it included singer Amy Winehouse, Foreign Secretary David Miliband, and lawyer Anthony Julius.
There were also many other anti-Semitic incidents elsewhere. In Italy, eggs filled with red paint were thrown at a synagogue in Pisa while an explosive device was found near the entrance of the Chabad House in Florence. In Belgium, a petrol bomb was hurled at a synagogue in Brussels, the windows of the synagogue in Charleroi were broken, a public menorah was set on fire, and swastikas were painted on Jewish-owned shops. In Istanbul, a bomb exploded near the Israeli Bank Pozitif and anti-Semitic billboards, notices, and graffiti were widespread in the city as well. In Izmir, “We will kill you” was written on the door of a synagogue. In Ankara, a basketball game between the Turk Telekom and Israeli Bnei Hasharon teams was canceled after Turkish fans stormed the court shouting “Allahu Akbar” and “Death to the Jews.”
There were several anti-Semitic attacks in Sweden. In Helsingborg, the staircase at a Jewish center was set on fire. In Stockholm, the Israeli embassy was covered with graffiti proclaiming “Crush Israel, you broke the ceasefire!” and other imprecations such as “Die!” and “Murderers” were visible.  In Malmö, a Jewish burial chapel was attacked three times.
The president of the Jewish community in Venezuela, Abraham Levy Ben Shimol, told the participants of a World Jewish Congress conference that swastikas had been sprayed on the walls of a Caracas synagogue and added that “where we live, the anti-Semitism is sanctioned; it comes from the president, through the government, and into the media. Since the government is very involved in the day-to-day lives of its constituents, its influence is much more effective.”
IV. ACCUSATIONS AND CALLS FOR ACTION AGAINST ISRAEL
As on previous occasions, various media played a major role in distorting the news. A few examples will illustrate this. France 2 has come under heavy criticism over the past few years regarding its role in the Al-Dura affair. French media analyst Philippe Karsenty claimed that the images shown by France 2 of the killing of the child Muhammad al-Dura at the beginning of the Second Intifada in autumn 2000 were staged. When France 2 sued Karsenty, an appeals court found that he had every right to express his doubts about the authenticity of the report.
During the recent Gaza campaign, France 2 aired an amateur video that was filmed during a 2005 incident involving Gaza civilians killed in an explosion caused by “militants.” The executives called the mistake an “internal malfunction” and formally apologized. France 2’s head of news reporting, Etienne Leenhardt, said the footage was “intended to illustrate the war of images on the Internet. The people who put it together worked too fast.”
The Dutch-Israeli media-watch group Israel Facts undertook a detailed analysis of how the Dutch state-subsidized television news service NOS reported on the Gaza campaign. Based on all the NOS primetime news shows’ material throughout the campaign, the report claimed there was a pattern of omission, distortion, and manipulation. Images shown were mainly coverage by a local Gaza broadcaster. Ninety percent of all footage released dealt with the suffering of the Gaza population. Israel Facts noted that not a single official Israeli spokesman had found his way into the NOS reporting. The report also pointed out that the first time the Israeli side was mentioned was on New Year’s Eve, four days after the campaign began; at that time most of the Dutch were busy with festivities. A further point was that Israel was not given the right of reply to accusations by NGOs and Palestinians.
TheGuardian, for its part, published an obituary for Nizar Rayan, a Hamas terrorist leader who had sent his twenty-two-year-old son on a suicide mission in which two Israelis were killed. The article, which called him a political leader, was subtitled “Senior Hamas Leader and Cleric Considered a Hero on the Streets of Gaza.”
Historian and media analyst Richard Landes has pointed out that international media have largely played into the hands of Hamas, whose strategy was both to maximize and exaggerate Palestinian casualties so as to gain the world’s sympathy and, thereby, to marshal international pressure on Israel to halt its military operations before it could achieve its goals. He observed that the phenomenon of intentionally causing the enemy to inflict casualties on one’s own civilian population is almost unknown outside the world of jihad.
An incident at the UNRWA-run Ibn Rushd Preparatory School for Boys in the Jabaliya refugee camp provides an example of the media’s irresponsibility as described by Landes. Headlines such as “Israeli Shelling Kills Dozens at UN School in Gaza” or “Massacre of Innocents as UN School Is Shelled” were all over the news after Israel responded to rocket attacks by Hamas with artillery fire. On 7 January, the Situation Report of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also claimed that the UNRWA school had been shelled. Yet when Patrick Martin, Middle East correspondent for the Canadian Globe and Mail, conducted an investigation, it revealed that no one inside the school building had been killed. On 5 February, OCHA finally published a clarification confirming that the Israeli shells landed outside the school. Martin describes clearly how the media helps put pressure on Israel:
News of the tragedy traveled fast, with aid workers and medical staff quoted as saying the incident happened at the school, the UNRWA facility where people had sought refuge. Soon it was presented that people in the school compound had been killed. Before long, there was worldwide outrage.
The news shocked the world and was compared to the 1996 Israeli attack on a UN compound in Qana, Lebanon, in which more than 100 people seeking refuge were killed. It was certain to hasten the end of Israel’s attack on Gaza, and would undoubtedly lead the list of allegations of war crimes committed by Israel.
There are other indications that media frequently distort information. For instance, they may characterize demonstrations as passing peacefully. Eyewitnesses, however, tell that in some cases shouts of “Death to the Jews,” the burning of Israeli flags, and banners calling equating Jews with Nazis go unmentioned. For instance, Levi Salomon, a representative of the Berlin Jewish community, has given examples of such deficient reporting.
Lawfare and Accusations of War Crimes
Lawfare, the exploitation of international law by various organizations and individuals, is an important element of the attacks on Israel. Israeli officials are harassed with civil lawsuits and criminal investigations. NGOs issue hundreds of statements accusing Israel of “indiscriminate attacks,” “disproportionate use of force,” “collective punishment,” and “war crimes.”
NGO Monitor explains that this tactic was adopted at the NGO Forum of the 2001 Durban conference in order to demonize and delegitimize Israel. NGO Monitor writes that “the NGOs calling for lawfare base their allegations on faulty legal premises, factual distortions, and unreliable ‘eyewitness’ testimony. These NGOs do not possess the military or other factual information necessary to level their charges.”
Two major NGOs, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, accused Israel of war crimes claiming that the IDF indiscriminately used white- phosphorous munitions in densely populated areas of Gaza. Ninety organizations, most of them French pro-Palestinian ones, seek to have the International Criminal Court indict Israel for war crimes in Gaza. Several hundred human rights groups were planning to ask the ICC to investigate Israel’s “war crimes” as well.
The United Nations
As usual, a number of UN officials came out against Israel in various ways. Richard Falk, the anti-Israeli UN Human Rights Rapporteur in the Occupied Territories, claimed Israel had violated international law, citing “collective punishment,” “targeting civilians,” and “disproportionate military response.”
UN General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, who had hugged Iranian president Ahmadinejad at the UN plenary a few months earlier, described the situation in Gaza as “genocide.”
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said Israel may have committed war crimes in Gaza, specifically mentioning an incident in the town of Zeitoun where approximately thirty people were killed in a single house as a result of Israeli shelling. It is well known that the UN Human Rights Council and its predecessor, the UN Commission on Human Rights, have systematically ignored the crimes of the major human rights violators such as Sudan, Iran, and others.
John Ging, head of UNRWA, also claimed that the killing of innocent civilians in Gaza could be a war crime.
Boycott campaigns have been a major tool of Israel’s enemies in the new century. The Gaza offensive led to renewed calls of various types. Some concerned Israeli produce, others were for academic, cultural, or sports boycotts, while some were general.
Individuals and bodies who had come out against Israel in the past were active once again. For instance, left-wing members of the British National Union of Journalists-the NUJ-Left-again discussed the possibility of promoting a boycott of Israel. At its annual meeting in 2007, the NUJ voted for a boycott of Israeli goods as a protest against the Second Lebanon War. After opposition mounted, however, this motion was overturned by a large majority at the 2008 conference.
Some campaigns went as far as to call for the boycott of Jews. The most publicized case was that of the Italian Flaica-CUB Union, a small, independent leftist union in the retail services and food sector. Its leader, Giancarlo Desiderati, had told reporters that a list of Jewish shops was being drawn up. In reaction the mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, went to shop in a Jewish-owned clothing store and noted that such calls in the 1930s were the precursors of the Fascist anti-Semitic laws in 1938. Other politicians also condemned the boycott.
In some other countries such as Argentina, there were calls for boycotting Jewish shops in certain cities. An anonymous email made the rounds in South Africa calling for the boycotting of Jewish businesses. However, a group of more than a hundred Muslims condemned this message.
Ingalill Bjartén, who holds a senior position in the Swedish Social Democrat Women’s Association, compared Israel to the Nazis. She also called for the cancellation of the Swedish Davis Cup tennis match against Israel in March Parliamentarian Hans Linde, foreign policy spokesperson of the Left Party, joined this call and also called for a cultural boycott of Israel. An Israeli taekwondo team was advised to cancel its participation in the Swedish championship at Trelleborg because of threats by a Swedish Muslim organization.
Sometimes boycott calls simply spread by rumor. Messages were sent to many in Dutch Muslim immigrant communities calling to boycott the German supermarket chains Aldi and Lidl. The origin of this campaign, which falsely claimed that the two chains were donating part of their profits to Israel, is not clear. There were similar calls all over Europe and the Middle East to boycott such businesses as McDonald’s, Pepsi Cola, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. The American coffee shop chain, Starbucks, admitted that the boycott had affected their business.
The union of Turkish cooperatives, which is associated with the Turkish Agricultural Ministry, announced that it would embargo the financing of purchases from Israel. Since the union offers subsidies to farmers, the embargo means Turkish farmers are likely to prefer to buy their agricultural supplies from other countries.
The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union boycotted an Israeli ship in Durban. However, the goods were later unloaded by nonunion workers.
There were some announcements of academic boycotts as well. Early in January, Sid Ryan, president of the Ontario branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), called to boycott Israeli academics unless they condemned Israeli military action, after an appeal had been made by the Palestinian Federation of University Professors and Employees. The call was a reaction to the bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza. The targets there included two laboratories that served as research and development centers for Hamas’s military wing, where explosives were developed under the auspices of university professors. The university was used for storage of rockets and explosives as well.
On 22 February, CUPE Ontario adopted a resolution that “encourages research into military connections between Ontario and Israeli universities, and calls on Ontario universities to refuse to conduct research that benefits the Israeli military.” Although this was a step back from the original call, it still singles out Israel. The president of CUPE National came out with a statement that the national organization does not support CUPE Ontario’s resolution and that it “does not represent CUPE National policy.”
The Role of Anti-Israeli Jews
As in many earlier cases, this time as well there was a small number of Jews whose statements were among the most extreme against Israel. Of some, it is known that they are Jewish even if they do not stress it themselves. Others use the fact that they are Jewish and/or exploit the suffering of their families during the Holocaust as a weapon in their attacks on Israel. Some small Jewish groups helped organize or participated in anti-Israeli hate demonstrations.
Naomi Klein, a Canadian antiglobalization activist, proposed a strategy for boycotting Israel in The Nation. Sir Gerald Kaufman, a British Labour parliamentarian, compared Hamas in Gaza to Jewish resistance fighters during the Second World War. He said the Israeli government “ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt among gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians.” He added that “My grandmother, who was shot dead by the Nazis, did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.”
Alexei Sayle, a British comedian, said at a rally in London that “as a Jew, it’s very moving to see so many people who are so outraged at Israel’s actions,” and that “Israel is a democratic country that is behaving like a terroristorganization.”
In a post on his website, titled “Deutschland Uber Alles,” Norman Finkelstein juxtaposes images of the Holocaust with claimed Israeli atrocities. The article is subtitled “the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany” Needless to say, if that were the case most Palestinians would have been killed long ago.
Dialogues take place between Muslim and Jewish organizations in a number of countries. During the war, some Muslim groups interrupted these because the Jewish side was not willing to condemn the Israeli action in Gaza. This was a hypocritical demand because the Muslim parties have rarely if ever condemned Palestinians or specifically Hamas for their multiple acts of terror against Israel. Nor have they come out against the calls for genocide in the Muslim world.
In France all the Muslim representatives resigned from the dialogue with CRIF, the umbrella body of the French Jewish community. This dialogue took place within the framework of the Amitié judéo-musulmane de France (AJMF). A Tunisian imam named Hassen Chalghoumi, who had been involved in a dialogue project, said it had seemingly come to a standstill. Whereas according to CRIF 95 percent of French Jews support Israel’s actions in Gaza, most Muslims feel solidarity with the Palestinians. Chalghoumi affirms that “reconciliation [between French Muslims and Jews] will take time.” Another country where the dialogue was affected was the Netherlands.
These incidents should provide an opportunity for Jewish participants in these dialogues to rethink their approach. Often these dialogues have resulted from Jews “courting” the Muslim side. This has enabled Muslims, on a number of occasions, to criticize Israel while Jewish dialogue partners, at best, defend it. It would have been far more logical to point out in response the large number of murders and major human rights abuses in Muslim countries, among them Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Somalia. In addition, it is worth stressing the multiple calls for genocide by senior religious and political leaders in the Muslim world and the rabid anti-Semitism prevailing there.
There are other aspects to this as well. For several reasons the image of Muslim communities has deteriorated in Western Europe. The dialogue with the Jewish community gives some dialogue partners an increased respectability. Some authorities may reason that if the Jews, who are seen as being on the other side of the political fence, are willing to talk to these Muslims, why shouldn’t they? The combination of helping groups of Muslims and then being attacked by them is not in the Jewish interest.
Yet another aspect is the instrumentalization of Jewish-Muslim relations by the authorities. There have been numerous attacks, hate speech, and other abuse of Jews by Muslims in various European countries during the Gaza campaign, and to a lesser extent, over the past few years. It is inconvenient for the authorities to say that aggression comes only from the Muslim side. If ever there is an incident where Jews attack Muslims, this helps the authorities distort the nature of the overall aggressions. This was the case after an incident where Jews attacked Muslim high school students at the Lycee Janson-de-Sailly in Paris.
At some point, Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie spoke about tensions between the communities. This was a clear misnomer in view of the asymmetric character of the conflict in France. On 14 January, in a speech in Orléans, Sarkozy said “I will not tolerate that the conflict of the Middle East will be exploited by some in order to create inter-community tensions in France…. Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia will be condemned with equal severity.” From this one could easily and falsely conclude that both Muslims and Jews are importing violence into France; actually, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are generally very different in nature.
The Battle for the Public Square
Actions by various independent Muslim bodies amount to an effort to conquer the public square and at the same time remove Jewish and Israeli identities from it. This began, in part, at the beginning of this century when Muslims attacked individual Jews in various European countries. Initially France was a particularly severe case. Later such attacks became a common phenomenon in some other countries as well.
The problem became so serious that some Jewish communities started to advise their members not to wear kippahs on the street. Former French chief rabbi Joseph Sitruk has made this admonition a number of times. On various occasions people wearing Stars of David were also advised to tuck them into their shirts.
Pessy Hollander, a Norwegian Jew, said he knows of many people in the Norwegian Jewish community who are afraid, as there have been death threats as well. An Orthodox family he knows no longer dares to go to the synagogue because they stand out in the street. As many visitors to major West European cities have noticed, at the same time many Muslims, through their mode of dress, increasingly emphasize their religion in the public domain.
During the Gaza war, the attempt to dominate the public square became more overt. Muslims attacked pro-Israeli demonstrations and Jews in the streets. There were arson attempts against Jewish institutions. After some anti-Israeli demonstrations, Muslim prayer services were held in public places-for instance, in Fort Lauderdale in the United States.
In Milan, a Muslim prayer session was held on the major square in front of the cathedral. This message can be interpreted in several ways. For instance: the Catholics pray inside, but the street, the public square, is for Muslim prayer. Or, the cathedral is empty, the street is full, and ultimately the cathedral will be a mosque. Many Italians understood the message; Interior Minister Roberto Maroni forbade future demonstrations in front of religious buildings. Later the Muslim organizers apologized to the cardinal of Milan.
Sometimes the authorities assisted this process. The aforementioned removal of the Israeli flags in Duisburg by local police is one example. The dispersion of an authorized pro-Israeli demonstration in Malmö was another.
This battle for the public square is not only relevant to Jews but to the public at large. Those who currently want to impose themselves on the public square at the expense of the Jews are likely to do so in the future at the expense of others.
V. AFTER THE END OF THE CAMPAIGN
Incidents continued at a lesser pace after the campaign ended. An authorized pro-Israeli demonstration in Malmö was attacked by unauthorized anti-Israeli protesters. Rather than protecting those who were exercising their right, the police dispersed both groups. Ted Ekeroth, a blogger, showed how another pro-Israeli demonstration in the same city was attacked by a group who hurled pipe bombs and projectiles at them. The Israeli ambassador to Sweden, Benny Dagan, had a shoe thrown at him during his speech at the University of Stockholm.
In Amsterdam, the location of a lecture for Jewish organizations, a hotel, had to be changed after it received emailed threats. Shoes were thrown at the speaker, Ron Edelheit of the IDF Spokesman’s Unit. Subsequently, Liberal Party MP Paul de Krom asked the Dutch government what it intended to do about the apparent spread of anti-Semitism in Amsterdam and the calls for violence in pro-Palestinian protests.
Due to threats and for political reasons, the left-wing-majority Malmö city council decided to hold the Davis Cup tennis match between Sweden and Israel behind closed doors. The decision was made despite the fact that police had announced earlier that fans could be admitted. Six thousand demonstrated outside the stadium against Israel. About two hundred demonstrators pelted the police with stones, fireworks, and paint bombs. The Israeli team won the match. Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center published an op-ed listing a selection of Swedish anti-Semitic acts, noting: “Over-the-top vilification anti-Israel rhetoric is a hallmark of a large swathe of the Swedish political establishment.”
On 23 January, Bert Anciaux, a minister in the Flemish government, compared on his personal blog the Gaza operation to a murder at a Belgian nursery where two infants and a caretaker were killed by a twenty-year-old man. The Belgian Foreign Ministry distanced itself from Anciaux. A few days later the entire Flemish government, including Anciaux, agreed that the two issues had no relation to each other.
On Friday night, 30 January, a synagogue in Caracas was defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti and its interior room where the Torah is kept was vandalized. President Chavez condemned the attack; he accused his political opponents of committing it. A few days later, eleven people were arrested, among them seven policemen. The attack was then presented as perpetrated by a gang rather than an anti-Semitic one. On 27 February, an explosive device went off outside a Jewish center in Caracas.
NGO actions against Israel continued. Amnesty International published a report condemning both Hamas and Israel and proposing an arms embargo of Israel. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, strongly criticized this report and stated that “Amnesty denies Israel the right to self-defense-an internationally accepted right of every sovereign nation.”
NGO Monitor analyzed the Amnesty document and concluded that it “exploits the façade of a ‘research report’ to make baseless accusations, misrepresent international law, and promote an immoral and indefensible equivalence between Hamas and Israel.” It added that “Officials of Amnesty International responsible for abusing human rights claims in preparing this publication should resign.”
A Palestinian NGO, Al-Haq, has started legal proceedings against the British government to compel it to impose sanctions on Israel. The British Foreign Office responded that such claims against British ministers “are wholly inapt for resolution in domestic legal proceedings.”
On 22 January, a group of American professors launched the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel. Two weeks later they claimed to have obtained 205 endorsements, of which 155 were by Americans.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) announced that they would launch a boycott of Israeli goods in response to the Gaza campaign. In Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, they were praised for this by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams. Parliamentarian Robin Newton of the Democratic Unionist Party reacted to the announcement by saying, “I can only wonder about the attitude of the ordinary member of a trade union who witnesses the senior members of their union traipsing around the Middle East delving into complex problems when the employees of local firms are facing redundancy, cutbacks or at least very challenging times.”
There is likely to be an increasing number of renewed attempts at lawfare, boycotts, and embargoes. Draft resolutions for the upcoming Durban II conference, which will take place in Geneva on 20-24 April 2009, indicate that it is likely to be an anti-Semitic hate-fest similar to the first conference.
At the Durban NGO conference in 2001, the idea emerged of a systematic, extended program of delegitimizing Israel. The South African NGO committee SANGOCO played a key role, and closely collaborated with Palestinians. The eight-point program that was developed included the launching of an educational program to create worldwide solidarity against Israel, the use of all legal mechanisms against Israel, discrediting the Law of Return, reinstituting the Arab boycott, imposing embargoes on Israel, and promoting the rupture of all diplomatic relations with Israel. This was meant to be realized over a period of five years. Thereafter, a second five-year program was supposed to be initiated against the United States. The anti-Israeli program was intended to be implemented through the involvement of churches, universities, Internet service providers, the United Nations, and NGOs.
While all these efforts are clearly recognizable in the period since the Durban conference, there is no single driving force behind the multiple attacks on Israel and the Jews. Many anti-Israeli advocates, while unaware of the SANGOCO program and its aims, play into this strategy by their actions. A fragmented postmodern society offers many conduits for propagating anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism, operating in the framework of what can be described as a postmodern “total war.” All actions combine into a system that functions as if coordinated by invisible hands.
The anti-Israeli campaign in the West comes from many directions. The major aggressors were already active against Israel long before the Gaza war, but exploited the occasion to increase their efforts. Among these are Muslim governments and many Muslim-immigrant bodies in the West. They frequently collaborate with the extreme Left, which often includes green parties and other politicians, mainly but not only socialists, who systematically discriminate against Israel. Self-hating or anti-Semitic Jews and Israelis also play an important role. While their numbers may not be large, they often act as initiators of anti-Israeli actions and are used by gentile haters of Jews and Israel in their campaigns.
The frequent ideological justification offered by many socialists who take often highly discriminatory anti-Israeli positions is that they identify with the weak. They do not distinguish between underdogs and defeated criminals. Their positions sometimes make them allies, or de facto accomplices, of a genocide-promoting organization such as Hamas. This was evident when several prominent socialists demonstrated against Israel together with those who shouted “Death to the Jews” or held up signs equating Israel with Nazi Germany.
A major role is also played by many media that emphasize Palestinian suffering without putting matters in context. Hamas’s genocidal charter is often ignored or obfuscated. Nor is it stressed that the Palestinians, in a partly democratic process, elected this mass-murder-promoting movement.
UN bodies and NGOs also wage lawfare against Israel through one-sided positions. Delegitimization of Israel takes place on various fronts in parallel. Positions emphasized by the media create an overall hostile atmosphere for Israel and Jews. At the same time, much less attention is paid to the prominent genocidal attitudes in the Muslim world and the weak or absent reactions to this from moderates.
The Gaza war has shown once again that Israel can cope with the many military challenges it faces and its defense establishment is notably flexible. On the other hand, the problems of the asymmetric war conducted against Israel by the abovementioned actors has never been properly analyzed to a significant degree by the Israeli authorities. Such understanding is an absolute necessity for gradually building adequate defense systems in this area as well.
* * *
 The authors thank Rachel Bresinger for her assistance with the research for this article.
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قيادى سابق بالتنظيم الدولى يكشف عن تنسيق «الإخوان» مع «حركات يهودية» فى «مظاهرات غزة» 
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 Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman, “Sweden’s Anti-Israel Apartheid Policy Is about More than Sport,” Jerusalem Post, 9 May 2008.
 Bert Anciaux, “doodstil,” 23 January 2009,http://www.bertanciaux.be/. [Dutch]
 Cnaan Lipshiz, “Belgium Slams Minister Statement Likening Gaza Op to Nursery Massacre,” Haaretz, 27 January 2008.
 “Dendermonde en Gaza hebben niets met elkaar te maken,” Gazet van Antwerpen, 30 January 2009. [Dutch]
 “Venezuela Synagogue Vandalized,” CNN, 31 January 2009; Haaretz, 27 January 2009.
 “Chavez Condemns Attack on Synagogue,” Associated Press, 1 February 2009.
 “Venezuela Holds Police, Guard in Synagogue Attack,” Reuters, 8 February 2009.
 “Venezuela Rebuffs UC Criticism of ‘Corruption’ and ‘Anti-Semitism’-As Bomb Rocks Jewish Center,” LatinAmerican Herald Tribune, 27 February 2008.
 Natasha Mozgovaya, “ADL: Amnesty Denying Israel the Right to Defend Itself,” Haaretz, 24 February 2009.
 NGO Monitor, “Amnesty’s Gaza ‘Report’ and Call for the Arms Embargo: Abolishing Israel’s Right to Self Defense,” 25 February 2009.
 Jonny Paul, “Palestinian NGO Sues British Government in Wake of Cast Lead,” Jerusalem Post, 25 February 2009.
 Sharon Udasin, “Battle of the Professors,” Jewish Week, 4 February 2009.
 “Trade Unionists Launch Boycott of Israeli Goods,” Belfast Telegraph, 10 February 2009.
 Alfred H. Moses, “From Durban I to Durban II: Preventing Poisonous Anti-Semitism,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 71, 1 August 2008.
 Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Anti-Semitism and Jewish Defense at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002 Johannesburg, South Africa,” interview with Shimon Samuels, Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 6, 2 March 2003.
 For an overview of anti-Israeli actions in the university world, see Manfred Gerstenfeld, Academics against Israel and the Jews (Jerusalem: JCPA, 2007).
 Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Shimon Samuels.
 Manfred Gerstenfeld, “The Twenty-First-Century Total War against Israel and the Jews; Part One,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 38, 1 November 2005.
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Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is chairman of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is an international business strategist who has been a consultant to governments, international agencies, and boards of some of the world’s largest corporations. Among the fourteen books he has published are Europe’s Crumbling Myths: The Post-Holocaust Origins of Today’s Anti-Semitism (JCPA, Yad Vashem, WJC, 2003) and Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews (JCPA and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, 2008).
Tamas Berzi is project coordinator of the Institute for Global Jewish Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He holds an MA in international relations from Corvinus University of Budapest and an MA in political science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.