Jim Kouri
February 28, 2013
Jewish leader to Congress: Hate crime, violence increasing in Europe
By Jim Kouri

According to an Arutz Sheva report on Monday, there has been a disturbing increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents of violence in France and Great Britain and there is "widespread European acquiescence and acceptance of overt anti-Semitism in the disguise of de-legitimizing not only Israel's citizens but Israel's right to exist at all."

As a result of the marked increases in anti-Semitic violence in European nations, much of it perpetrated by Muslims, Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee's director of International Jewish Affairs, is scheduled to meet with members of the U.S. Congress on Wednesday to discuss with lawmakers the increase of threats to Jews that requires increased security, and "pose an existential threat to the future of Jewish life in Europe."

On Wednesday, Rabbi Baker will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Global Human Rights. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chair of the subcommittee and co-chair of the House Bipartisan Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism, called the hearing in response to hate crimes committed against Jews several European nations.

Key leaders of Europe's Jewish communities will testify before Congress Wednesday regarding the rising threat of anti-Semitism in their countries, why, and how Jews are once again being targeted in Europe, according to Rep. Smith.

"American Christian, Muslim, and Jewish leaders will testify for a House Foreign Affairs Committee panel about anti-Semitism as a key means by which radical, anti-democratic movements gain power, and how anti-Semitism is a threat not only to Jews but to all people, and to the very foundations of democracy," Smith noted.

"Some [European] governments willfully do not want to know, and they have limited their monitoring tools so that they will not be confronted with the facts," Baker says in his prepared testimony. "This may be a reflection of political correctness or a fear that such data are likely to increase anti-Muslim sentiments. Either way they contribute to the problem."

"It's a sad state of affairs when nations bend-over backwards to avoid the tiniest slight against Muslims but tolerate the assaults and killings of Jews in the streets of otherwise liberal democracies," notes a former police commander and military officer, Charles Knudsen.

"Even here in the United States on college campuses some of the most vile, anti-Semitic language is tolerated, even heralded, by students and some faculty members," said Knudsen, who has experience investigating bias or hate crimes.

Such hesitancy contravenes the commitments [European] governments made with the adoption of the Berlin Declaration by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2004. The OSCE is the world's largest regional security organization, with 57 member states from Europe, Central Asia and North America, according to the ACJ leader.

"Governments that have made efforts to address these threats against Jewish communities and individuals will be highlighted at an upcoming OSCE conference, slated for April. Hesitant governments will be pressed to follow suit," said Baker.

The U.S. House hearing is being held just one week after French Jews assembled and presented to France's prime minister its annual report on anti-Semitic incidents. The report showed an increase of almost 60 percent during 2012.

Astonishingly, following the brutal terrorist murder of three children and a teacher at a Jewish school in Toulouse last March, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in France jumped. "Rather than generating awareness and sympathy, there was instead support and identification with the anti-Semitic murderer," who happened to be a radical Islamist, says Baker.

The Toulouse attack was another tragic reminder that those responsible for the recent increases in anti-Semitic incidents in France and elsewhere in Western Europe "largely come from parts of the Arab and Muslim communities," says Baker. This threat is in addition to, and at times more grave, than the attacks from neo-Nazi groups.

"The French Jewish community is not alone in its need to address an increasing security threat," Baker warns. "Physical attacks and threats directed toward persons and property are now a part of daily life. Synagogues, schools and community centers have been refitted with secure entryways and sidewalk barriers."

Baker cautioned that investing in needed security measures "is a formidable challenge" for small communities with limited budgets. "The 1000 Jews of Oslo, Norway, and the 1000 Jews who live in Melilla, a Spanish enclave on the North African coast, may be geographically at opposite ends of the European map, but both communities are spending an inordinate share of their budgets simply to try to keep their members physically safe," Baker said.

© Jim Kouri


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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)


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