Simon Wiesenthal Center’s 2016 Top 10 Worst Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Incidents
With anti-Semitism raging on both sides of the Atlantic, here are some of the most troubling incidents targeting the Jewish people this past year.
1) United Nations Erases Jewish History
The most stunning 2016 UN attack on Israel was when the US abstained on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel for settlement construction. It reversed decades-long US policy of vetoing such diplomatic moves against the Jewish State. In 2011, a similar resolution was vetoed by US Ambassador Susan Rice “…this draft resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides. It could encourage the parties to stay out of negotiations…”, she said.
The resolution, in effect, identifies Jerusalem’s holiest sites, including the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, as “occupied Palestinian territory.”
It also urges UN members “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967,” effectively endorsing BDS. US Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) echoed the sentiments of many Democrats and Republicans, labeling the resolution “destructive and irresponsible”, and as seeking “to isolate and delegitimize Israel”. “US’ actions were completely unacceptable, and reckless.”
Throughout 2016, a year rife with global Islamist terrorism and horrific human rights violations, the UN General Assembly passed 20 resolutions against Israel and four against all other countries combined. At UNESCO, an Arab – backed resolution erased any historic link between the Jewish people and Judaism’s holiest sites, the Temple Mount and The Western Wall. It also rebranded Rachel’s Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as exclusively Muslim sites. The resolution also “deeply regrets”[ed] Israel’s refusal to remove these sites from its national heritage list.
2) UK British Labor Leaders + Jenny Tonge
Under Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labor Party, anti-Semitism in the party has greatly escalated. Corbyn, who previously called Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends”, also promoted his strategy adviser Seumas Milne, a Hamas proponent. He then gave former London mayor Ken Livingstone an important position in the party, but Livingstone was later suspended because of anti-Semitic remarks about Hitler supporting Zionism. When the anti-Semitism in the party could no longer be ignored, Corbyn chose an unqualified investigator who produced a highly unprofessional report on the issue.
In October, the vice-chair of the Corbyn-supporting group ‘Momentum’, Jackie Walker, was removed from her post in the wake of remarks questioning the need for security at Jewish schools, and about Holocaust Memorial Day. A series of Jewish MPs have also faced online abuse. In October, a man was jailed for sending anti-Semitic messages to the Labour MP Luciana Berger. In December, a man was convicted of harassing the same MP with anti-Semitic rants.
Baroness Jenny Tonge has declared that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is a major cause for the rise of global jihadism and the Islamic State. Tonge hosted an event at the House of Lords where Jews were blamed for the Holocaust. And one participant went unchallenged when he declared that Hitler’s decision to wipe out the Jews came only after being provoked by the anti-Nazi protests in the U.S. led by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise. Applause followed when the speaker added, “If anybody is anti- Semitic, it’s the Israelis themselves.”
Baroness Ruth Deech, a member of the House of Lords has warned that Britain’s top universities are becoming no-go zones for Jewish students because the administrations are unable to tackle anti-Semitism out of fear of “offending” their potential donors from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Deech told The Telegraph reported that anti-Semitism is so rife on campuses that some Jewish people are feeling threatened and unsafe. “Amongst Jewish students, there is gradually a feeling that there are certain universities that you should avoid.”
The first six months of 2016 saw an 11% increase in anti-Semitic hate incidents (557) compared to the same period in 2015, according to the Community Security Trust. They included attacks on Jewish individuals – often students – and vandalism of Jewish owned property and Jewish communal organizations.
All this spurred Prime Minister Theresa May’s government to become the first to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” Prime Minister May declared that there will now be only one definition of anti-Semitism “and anyone guilty of it will be called out.
3) France – Singling Out Israel
Against a backdrop of devastating and murderous Islamist terrorist attacks, continued targeting of French Jewry, and reports of the refusal of some Muslim police officers to guard synagogues, the French government became the first member of the European Union to implement the requirement of labels on all Israeli goods produced beyond the Jewish state’s 1967 borders. Labels such as “Product from the “Golan Heights” or “West Bank” must now include from “Occupied Areas.”
However, goods from those areas not produced by Israelis may continue to say “product of Palestine”. The Israeli Foreign Ministry blasted the unfair double standard saying, “It is puzzling and disturbing that France adopts a double standard in relation to Israel, while ignoring 200 territorial conflicts currently taking place around the world....”
4) Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) – German Union/Canadian Student Union/United Church of Christ
Leaders of the German Teacher’s Union (GEW) local in Oldenburg have called for a total boycott of Israel. In September, the Oldenburg GEW local published a pro-BDS article by Christoph Glanz, a public school teacher and fanatic opponent of the Jewish State. Glanz, who has tried posing as a Jew to avoid charges of anti-Semitism, recently called for the eradication of the State of Israel and relocation of its Jews to southwestern Germany. On December 7th, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Conservative party passed a resolution declaring the BDS movement anti-Jewish and reminiscent of early actions taken by the Nazis against Jews.
Ryerson University is a prominent Canadian university of 37,000 students in downtown Toronto. It’s student union had previously voted to endorse BDS. When anti-Semitic graffiti was found on its campus, Canadian Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center offered a reward for the arrest of the perpetrators. In 2016, a motion to dedicate a week to Holocaust Remembrance was torpedoed by Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Student Association who staged a planned walkout to deprive the committee of a quorum for the vote.
This despite the fact that the programming had nothing to do with the Israel-Arab conflict. Reacting to the disgusting anti-Jewish move, Amanda Homann, National Director of B’nai B’rith’s League for Human Rights charged, “This outrageous incident is emblematic of the kind of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish sentiment that is rampant on Ontario campuses.” In December, a delegation from Canadian Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center met with Ryerson University President Mohamed Lachemi, Chancellor Lawrence Bloomberg and executives of the university over the outrage. On December 19th, a motion to endorse a week of Holocaust programming was passed unanimously.
Those who staged the initial walkout were not present. Last year, the US-based United Church of Christ (UCC) voted overwhelmingly to endorse BDS. In 2016, it has become more creative in teaching contempt and hatred for the Jewish State. It now guides Sunday School teachers in role-playing activities designed to indoctrinate children, manipulating them emotionally to believe that Israelis are cruel and brutal oppressors.
A study guide published by its Global Ministries agency provides material for Advent, the weeks of spiritual readiness for Christmas. It leaves little room for “goodwill toward men,” at least insofar as Jews. Students are urged to man imaginary checkpoints and act as soldiers, letting some in and rejecting others. They listen to a boy from Beit Jala on the West Bank, describe how people cannot travel and live in security because of the checkpoints. At no point is there any explanation of why the barrier and checkpoints are there – how many thousands died in terrorist acts before they were emplaced, and how many Muslim, Christian, and Jewish lives have been saved by them.
5) Richard Spencer – America’s 21st Century Nazi
In celebration of what they perceived as gains resulting from the US presidential election, dozens of “white nationalists” descended on the Ronald Reagan building in Washington, D.C. shortly before Thanksgiving to congratulate each other and offer Nazi salutes. In his address, National Policy Institute (NPI) leader, Richard Spencer, mused out loud whether Jews were actually people or just a “golem” (an animated creature without human feelings). Spencer then went on to rail against the mainstream media and asked his audience whether they should be referred to in “the original German.” Members of the audience dutifully replied, “Luegenpresse,” the Nazi era-expression meaning “Lying press.”
By the end of Spencer’s rantings and ravings, attendees were stretching out their arms in Nazi salutes cheering “Hail Trump! Hail our People! Hail Victory!” Meanwhile, the Associated Press confirmed that the IRS had granted non-profit status to four racist groups, including Spencer’s Montana-based NPI. Spencer popularized the term “alternative right” (alt-right), a fringe movement encompassing racism, white nationalism and populism. Spencer’s group raised $442,482 in tax-deductible contributions from 2007 through 2012. During the presidential campaign, 1,600 online bigots used social media to target more than 800 journalists who received over 19,000 anti-Semitic Tweets. The great majority of the Tweets targeted 10 journalists, some of them Jewish who had authored articles critical of then-candidate Donald Trump. The Trump campaign denounced the hate-filled attacks.
6) Palestinian Leadership – The Palestinian Authority and Hamas
Echoing screeds that led to mass killings of European Jews in the Middle Ages, Palestinian Authority President Abbas, told the European Parliament in Brussels that Israeli rabbis were urging the government to poison the Palestinian water supply. In his June 23rd address, Abbas said, “Just a week ago, a group of rabbis in Israel announced, in a clear announcement, demanding their government, to poison, to poison, the water of the Palestinians. Is this not incitement? Is this not clear incitement, to the mass murder of the Palestinian people?” Israeli PM Netanyahu called Abbas’ remarks a blood libel.
Abbas had previously called for Jerusalem’s holy sites to be cleansed of Jews and Christians. “The Al Aqsa mosque is ours. The church of the Holy Sepulcher is ours as well. They have no right to desecrate them with their dirty feet.” In April, against the backdrop of the so-called “Knifing Intifada”, Hamas TV broadcast a play in which Palestinian children – dressed in military fatigues and armed with guns and knives – kill Israelis. The broadcast prompted Ofir Gendelman, the Arab media spokesman for Prime Minister Netanyahu to say, “When Palestinians send their kids to act in this school play…no wonder their kids commit attacks when they’re older.”
7) The Netherlands – Anti-Semitic Attacks Too Numerous to Report
"Jews will be finished"
Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands, Binyomin Jacobs, said that most Dutch Jews have grown so accustomed to anti-Semitic insults on the street, that they seldom bother reporting them. However, a trend of anti-Semitic incidents in Dutch schools has become particularly worrisome. In June, high school students at a graduation party in the town of Schijndel sang about burning Jews. As they entered the hall, some of the graduates broke out in song with the lyrics, “Together we’ll burn Jews, because Jews burn the best”- a chant sometimes heard in the country’s soccer stadiums (see #9).
8) Sweden – Foreign Minister Worries About Terrorists, Not Their Victims
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom flew to Israel in December despite being forewarned that no Israeli officials would meet with her. Wallstrom, whose consistently one-sided criticism of the Jewish State has outraged Israelis, said she wanted to meet with Palestinian and Israeli leaders to advance peace prospects, but Jerusalem refused to meet with her. Commenting on the violence in Israel of knife-wielding Palestinian terrorists, and measures taken by Israeli police in their wake during the so-called “Knifing Intifada”, Wallstrom, called for an investigation into what she called “extra-judicial killings” by Israeli police.
Shocked by her remarks, Israeli Minister of Infrastructure, Yuval Steinitz, noted that Wallstrom singled out Israel for investigation but avoided calling out other nations – including the U.S., Russia and France – which also kill terrorists. Steinitz also pointed out that that Sweden has produced more Islamic State volunteers that any other European country. Relations between Israel and Sweden plummeted last year after Wallstrom attributed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a major reason for growing Islamist radicalism. A year earlier, shortly after taking the helm of her country’s Foreign Ministry, Wallstrom recognized ‘Palestine’ as a state.
9) Sports – Breeding Ground for Hate
"19.08, today the Jews got a name. "Let them burn, motherfu**ers."
UNITED STATES – Between 50 to 75 students from Catholic Memorial School in Newton, Massachusetts stunned spectators in March during a basketball game with Newton North High School, when they shouted, “You killed Jesus, you killed Jesus” at their opponents. Newton North High has many Jewish students. Students were later forced to apologize to North High’s principal and were criticized in a statement by the Boston Archdiocese. Meanwhile, officials at Keefe Regional Technical School and Marian High School in Framingham, a suburb of Boston, canceled the hockey season for their joint boys-team over what faculty said were anti-Semitic comments and actions by players against a teammate, the Boston Globe reported. A letter to players from Marian High, which is a Catholic school, and their parents said an investigation found “a pattern of locker room activity” by players who admitted to participating in it.
HOLLAND – In April, following Feyenoord’s 2-1 victory over Utrecht in the Dutch Cup match, a group of fans started chanting “Jews to the gas!” and “Hamas, Hamas”. Earlier in the year, PSV Eindhoven fans chanted, “If you don’t jump, you’re a Jew, and all Jews must die.”
ITALY – In October, FIFA, the international football governing body, imposed a fine of more than $30,000 on Italy’s national team for the anti-Semitic behavior of some of its fans at a match in Haifa. Some of Team Italy’s fans gave the fascist salute during the playing of the national anthems before the match with Israel’s national team.
BRITAIN – At the end of November, fans of a British soccer team were filmed singing anti-Semitic chants on a London subway. The chant by backers of the Chelsea club followed the team’s victory over Tottenham Hotspur, which has many Jewish fans. They chanted, “I’ve got foreskin, how about you? F****** Jew.”
CROATIA – Chants of “Za dom spremni” (“Ready for the homeland”) and “Mi Hrvati! Ustasha, Ustasha!” (“We Croatians! Ustasha, Ustasha!”) clearly express support for a country whose WWII government organized the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of its minorities and political opponents,” according to SWC’s Eastern European Affairs Director Dr. Efraim Zuroff. The slogans, shouted during a match between Israel and Croatia’s national teams in March, expressed support for the country’s Nazi-puppet government that exterminated hundreds of thousands of “foreign elements” during the Holocaust, including Serbs, Gypsies and Jews.
POLAND – In August, a group of Polish soccer fans put on a horrifying display of anti-Semitism, by setting fire to effigies of stereotypical Jews and parading a banner calling for the burning of Jewish people. Dozens of fans of the Widzew Lodz football team had gathered outside a local train station to rally against rival team LKS Lodz. They unfurled an anti-Semitic banner which read, “19.08, today the Jews got a name. “Let them burn, motherfu**ers.” Photos take of the rally (pictured above) show effigies dressed as Orthodox Jews being strung from rope and set on fire.
10) Poland – Historian Faces Modern-Day Witch-Hunt
Prominent historian Jan Tomasz Gross, who documented Polish participation in the murder of Jews in wartime Poland, is in the crosshairs of Polish authorities who are considering charges that could put him behind bars for three years for “harming the country’s reputation”. Gross’ research revealed that Poles killed more Polish Jews (over 100,000) than they did German occupiers (30,000) during World War II. While some view the investigation as a witch-hunt, others view it as a tactical move in a political game. In October, the hard-right Law and Justice Party came to power and Prime Minister Beata Szydlo has inaugurated a campaign to curtail freedoms. In July, Polish Education Minister, Anna Zelewska, cast doubt on the responsibility of Poles for two massacres of Jews – one during the Holocaust and one immediately after.
Minister Zalewska addressed the 1941 murder of Jews in Jedwabne, in which Poles gathered 300 Jews and burned them in a barn. The other atrocity took place in Kielce in 1946 where 42 Jews were murdered. Minister Zalewska said that “Jedwabne ...has led to many misunderstandings and very biased opinions.” When a journalist from Polish broadcaster TVN reminded her that “Poles burned Jews in a barn,” Zalewski curtly replied, “That is your opinion.”