sentiment

Anti-Semitic sentiment fell in 3 European countries, ADL polls find

(JTA) — The prevalence of anti-Semitic sentiment has dropped in three European countries over surveys from 2014 and 2015, according to polls conducted this year by the Anti-Defamation League.

The ADL interviewed 500 people each in Germany, the United Kingdom and France by telephone, the organization said in a summary of the study it unveiled Thursday.

In the United Kingdom, 10 percent of respondents “harbor anti-Semitic attitudes,” the poll found, compared to 12 percent in 2015 and 8 percent in 2014.

In France, the figure was 14 percent compared to 17 percent in 2015 and 37 percent a year earlier.

In Germany, the figure dropped to 11 percent from 16 percent in 2015 and 27 percent in 2014.

Respondents were instructed to agree or disagree on statements that included “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country” (32 percent in Britain, 33 percent in France and 45 percent in Germany agreed, and “Jews think they are better than other people” (13 percent to 14 percent agreement in all three countries).

Only 4 percent of respondents in all three countries agreed with the statement that “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.” The statement “people hate Jews because of the way Jews behave” was endorsed by 26 percent of respondents in Germany, as well as 14 and 17 percent of those polled in Britain and France, respectively.

Among them, the three countries have a population of more than 200 million people.

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Anti Islam Sentiment: U.S. cities face anti-Muslim backlash

WASHINGTON — Cities across the USA are preparing for the next phase that inevitably follows a terror attack: anti-Muslim backlash.

Across social media, in public forums on college campuses, and even in mainstream political rhetoric from presidential candidates, anger over the deadly terror attacks in Brussels has spawned discontent and suspicion directed at Muslim groups. After the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, leaders in California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and spoke out quickly to dissuade anti-Muslim sentiment.

The aftermath of an attack “is always a difficult time for Muslims in the United States,” said Nabil Shaikh, a leader of the Muslim Students Association at Princeton University.

“On Princeton’s campus, students took to anonymous forums like Yik Yak to comment that there are Muslims at Princeton who are radical and would therefore condone yesterday’s attacks,” Shaikh said. “These comments not only are appalling and inaccurate but also threaten the well-being of Muslim students.”

Unlike in Belgium and Paris following the November terror attacks, the backlash in the U.S. is not as confrontational.

Europe has seen occasional anti-Muslim rallies in Flemish cities such as Antwerp and Ghent. Some Muslim leaders have accused police in Europe of overtly targeting Muslim communities in lockdowns and raids of homes.

Muslim communities in the U.S. face opposition more in the form of rhetoric — but in an election year, such rhetoric can lead to sweeping change.

The day of the Brussels attack, Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz said that the U.S. needs to “empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” His comments struck an already raw nerve in Muslim communities throughout the U.S. although Donald Trump praised Cruz’s idea.

President Obama called the approach “wrong and un-American.”

“I just left a country that engages in that kind of surveillance, which by the way the father of Senator Cruz escaped, to America, the land of the free,” he said, referring to Cuba.

Politics plays a role in fostering anti-Islamic sentiment, said Khusro Elley of Chappaqua, N.Y., a trustee at Upper Westchester Muslim Society in Thornwood, N.Y.

“The average Muslim still feels intimidated, still feels scared, still feels insecure,” especially in a political climate where it’s become common to depict Muslims as terrorists, he said.

While brutal attacks on Muslims in the United States haven’t been reported to the Council on American-Islamic Relations since the Brussels attack, bullying and hate speech are growing, said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Washington-based civil-liberties group.

“For girls, it’s pulling on the hijab and calling them terrorists, and for boys it’s saying that they have a bomb in their backpack and calling them terrorists,” Hooper said. Some politicians make the problems worse. “They really have mainstreamedIslamophobia.”

Children hear the hate speech on TV and hear their parents agreeing with it, he said. Increasingly, they’re taking the language to school.

In Louisville, more than two dozen Islamic leaders gathered Wednesday to condemn the attacks and urge the public not to link all Muslims with terrorism, describing a growing level of Islamophobia.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, a Democrat, called some Republican political candidates’ responses in wake of the Brussels attack “naive and unrealistic.”

“For them to play to people’s basest fears” to gain political support is “contrary to American values,” Fischer said at an interfaith prayer vigil, contending that such candidates are “masquerading as presidential timber.”

Muslims in Louisville haven’t felt fearful, especially since non-Muslim volunteers came out in force to paint over anti-Islam graffiti two days after the Louisville Islamic Center was vandalized Sept. 16, said Mohammed Wasif Iqbal, head of the center. But Iqbal said some have criticized Islamic leaders for not condemning attacks strongly enough.

“We will stand here every single time and condemn it,” he said, arguing that extremists should not define the Islamic religion.

Muhammad Babar, a Louisville Islamic leader with Muslim Americans for Compassion, called the Brussels attack heartbreaking.

“Do not see us through the actions of ISIL,” he said. “We are as American as you are.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Florida chapter has seen a fivefold increase in reports of hate incidents during 2015 compared with 2014, 26 vs. five, said Hassan Shibly, the chapter’s chief executive director. A grand majority occurred in the final two months of the year, after the Paris terrorist attacks.

“Unlike what happens after the mass shootings committed by white supremacists that happen almost daily in America, whenever an act of terrorism involves those who identify themselves as Muslims, politicians respond by calling for the curtailment or the rights of American Muslims,” he said. “Our enemies can never destroy us. We can only destroy ourselves if we allow fear and hate to turn us against each other.”

The national Council on American-Islamic Relations, founded in 1994, called for Cruz to retract his demand for law enforcement to secure Muslim neighborhoods.

“Mr. Cruz’s call for law enforcement to ‘patrol and secure’ neighborhoods in which American Muslim families live is not only unconstitutional, it is unbefitting anyone seeking our nation’s highest office and indicates that he lacks the temperament necessary for any president,” the national council’s executive director, Nihad Awad, said in a statement.

Awad called Cruz’s plan fascist-like.

“I do feel that with the attacks in Brussels and especially after Paris, people feel like they are entitled to speak hatefully,” said Maira Salim, president of the Muslim Student Association at Wichita State University. “It’s actually a lot worse than what happened after 9/11. … I’m all for free speech, but hate speech is not OK.”

Scott Roberts: The War in Syria and Anti-American Sentiment

The entire White world is being destroyed, at an alarming rate, right out in the open, yet all these “White Nationalists” care about is “defending Syria”.

What’s worse? Those who claim “Americans deserve it”. If that were so, then Germans, Italians, and all other White people “deserve” it as well for “allowing” themselves to be victims. No group of White people ever voted to commit genocide against themselves. We have been disenfranchised and victimized in every possible way. What more do we “deserve”? When is enough enough? Once we are wiped off the planet?

To all who are calling for war, you do not know what you are asking for. To all who claim “Whites deserve it”, you are openly advocating and justifying the genocide of our race. Let’s stop pretending otherwise.

Washington: European anti-Israel sentiment crossed the line into anti-Semitism

Last summer’s European “wave of anti-Israel sentiments…crossed the line into anti-Semitism,” the US State Department declared in its annual report on international religious freedom.

Released on Wednesday at a Washington press conference by Secretary of State John Kerry and Rabbi David Saperstein, US ambassador for religious freedom, the report declared that the surge in anti-Semitism in Western Europe last year “left many pondering the viability of Jewish communities in some countries.”

The annual report covers issues of religious freedom worldwide.

Asked how he determined the dividing line between anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments, Saperstein replied that while criticism of any nation is appropriate, the difference is “on the cusp of that line when it holds one country to different standards than it would hold any other country.”

“Where it has often crossed the line is when groups try to argue that Israel is an inherently illegal state and doesn’t have a right to exist as a Jewish state and takes actions to delegitimize those fundamental rights,” he said.

“We think of that as the denial of rights to a person that are given to other similarly situated people, or the imposition of obligations on a person that are not applied to other people.

We normally think of that as racism. When it steps over that line, that it constitutes anti-Semitic activity and is not legitimate discourse about Israel’s policies.”

France last year experienced a 101 percent increase in anti-Semitic acts over 2013, including “numerous cases of physical violence against the Jewish community where individuals were targeted and beaten, and synagogues were firebombed,” according to the report.

This led to an upswing in emigration, with 7,231 Jews making aliya – up from 3,293 in 2013.

The report cited events such as the burning of a kosher grocery in Sarcelles, linked to anti-Israel protests at which both anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments were voiced.

In an incident in Germany cited by the report, anti-Israel demonstrators chanted, “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” while at a demonstration in Essen, anti-Israel provocateurs attempted to burn down a synagogue.

Sworn in as ambassador in February, Saperstein, the former director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, is the first Jew to hold his post.

He had previously served on US President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith- Based and Neighborhood Partnerships from 2010 to 2011. He also was a member of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom from 1999 to 2001.

Speaking at his swearing-in ceremony, Saperstein said, “Even in Western Europe we are witnessing a steady increase in rhetoric and acts of violence against Jewish individuals, synagogues, institutions and communities that we thought we would never see again after World War II.”

Murder of elderly couple in Sicily fuels Italy’s growing anti-immigrant sentiment

Italy’s simmering anti-immigrant sentiment has been stoked by the murder of an elderly couple in their home in Sicily, allegedly by an African asylum seeker.

Mamadou Kamara, an 18-year-old from the Ivory Coast, allegedly slit the throat of Vincenzo Solano, 68, and then attacked his Spanish-born wife, Mercedes Ibanez, 70.

Ms Ibanez fell to her death from a second-floor balcony, during a robbery that turned violent.

Mr Kamara is one of thousands of migrants and refugees living at a vast reception centre at nearby Mineo, in south-eastern Sicily.

They are accommodated there after arriving by boat from Libya, and wait sometimes for months to have their asylum applications assessed.

The migrants are allowed to come and go freely from the facility, a former US military base where prostitution, links with organised crime and the trade in illicit goods is said to be rife.

Mr Kamara, who was rescued in the Mediterranean on June 8 and brought with other migrants to the port of Catania in Sicily, allegedly broke into the pensioners’ flat in the village of Palagonia, six miles away, and slit the throat of Mr Solano.

The elderly man’s wife was found dead in the courtyard of their three-storey apartment block. Investigators believe she may have fallen over the balcony in panic after trying to flee the attacker.

Mr Kamara was arrested after police searched his bag on Sunday as he returned to the migrant centre.

Inside they found a mobile telephone, a laptop computer, a video camera and a pair of trousers, allegedly belonging to Mr Solano, that were covered in blood.

The young African man claimed to have “found” the items, but police arrested him and are expected to charge him with two counts of murder.

Forensic police worked into the early hours of Monday gathering evidence at the elderly couple’s flat.

Sebastian Maccarrone, the director of the Mineo migrant centre, said: “If it was him, it is a tragedy within a tragedy – for the people killed, and for integration. We are all shocked. I have spoken with many migrants and they all want to disassociate themselves from what happened.

“For each small step we have taken forward in terms of integration, this has put us 10 steps backwards.”

The trousers were identified as belonging to Mr Solano by one of his daughters, who was contacted by police.

The pensioner had retired back to his native Sicily a decade ago after working for years in a Mercedes car factory in Germany. Detectives believe that other migrants may have been involved in the burglary.

More than 100,000 refugees have arrived by boat in Italy this year, making the crossing from Libya in overcrowded rubber dinghies and leaky fishing boats. Last year, a record 170,000 arrived on Italian shores.

Patience is wearing thin among many Italians, with some of the country’s 20 regions refusing to accommodate any more migrants and centre-Right parties accusing the centre-Left government of Matteo Renzi, the prime minister, of having lost control of the country’s borders.

“Italians fear for their lives inside their own homes,” said Gianluca Buonanno, an MEP with the Northern League, a staunchly anti-immigrant party of the Right.

“This is Renzi’s national security strategy. What kind of country are we living in?”

Giorgia Meloni, another centre-Right politician and a close ally of Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister, said: “The instigator of the murder of these two innocents is the Italian state, which is responsible for having kept open a facility … which we said should be closed down.”

“The murdered couple had returned from living in Germany to enjoy their retirement in Sicily,” a relative told La Stampa newspaper. “They shouldn’t have died like this, slaughtered like goats.”