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– Twenty-First Century Crusades?
An increase in anti-Semitism
Jews note rise in anti-Semitism
By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
Anti-Semitic acts are becoming increasingly prevalent during Israel's
offensive against Lebanon, Jewish communities worldwide have reported.
In response, they have stepped up private security and coordination with
Friday's fatal shooting of an employee of the Jewish Federation of
Greater Seattle was followed by further incidents over the weekend. On
Sunday, the windows of a synagogue in Australia were broken and two
Florida synagogues and Jewish businesses were defaced by graffiti, while
several groups have received threatening e-mails and letters.
Since the fighting began "there's been a rise in expressions of
hostility toward Israel" and "a spike in incidents of anti-Semitism,"
according to Paul Gardner, chairman of Bnai Brith of Australia's
Anti-Defamation Committee. "So this is not surprising."
Australian media reported that officers were searching for 10 men of
Middle Eastern appearance seen laughing and running from the synagogue
soon after cement blocks were hurled at a Sydney synagogue, an attack
believed to be connected to events in Lebanon.
Gardner said the Australian Jewish community - which numbers about
120,000 - had expressed "concern" but not fear, echoing comments made
throughout the Jewish world.
Judy Gilbert-Gould, who heads the Jewish Community Relations Council for
the Miami federation, also said that the community wasn't afraid, but
that it was "saddened and dismayed."
One of the perpetrators of the Miami desecrations, a youth, has been
held by police after swastikas and KKK lettering appeared on two
synagogues, a kosher butcher and a Judaica store.
Gilbert-Gould said there was no specific proof of a connection between
the vandalism and the Middle East conflict, but pointed to the
coincidence of the timing and the fact that the issue was constantly in
the public eye.
Mark Garner, spokesman for British Jewry's Community Security Trust,
estimated that there has been a 25 percent increase in anti-Jewish
incidents since Israeli-Hizbullah violence broke out nearly three weeks
ago. He said there had been a particular rise in the number of
threatening e-mails individuals had received, many of which mentioned
the situation in Lebanon.
"It's a really dangerous and difficult time," he said. "I'm keenly aware
that these are exactly the types of conditions that terrorists will use
to pin an attack on."
He added that his organization had received no news of specific threats,
but is "in more than daily contact" with the British police.
Serge Cwajgenbaum, secretary general of the European Jewish Congress,
said that he was not aware of any targeted threats facing European
communities, though he added that security had been bolstered across
Eastern and Western Europe.
"We must be very careful and remain extremely vigilant," he said.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of
Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, also said that there
had been no specific threats received in America, but that the national
security network for Jewish communities has five former law enforcement
officials working full-time on security and that they were in constant
contact with Jewish leaders, particularly after the Seattle murder.
"We are urging people to be more vigilant," he said. "Incidents like the
shooting tend to invite copycatting."