EU body shelves report on anti-semitism
By Bertrand Benoit in Berlin
Published: November 21 2003 21:10 | Last Updated: November 21 2003 21:10
The European Union's racism watchdog has shelved a report on anti-semitism because the study concluded Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups were behind many of the incidents it examined.
The Vienna-based European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) decided in February not to publish the 112-page study, a copy of which was obtained by the Financial Times, after clashing with its authors over their conclusions.
The news comes amid growing fears that there is an upsurge of anti-semitism in European Union countries. Among many recent incidents, a Jewish school near Paris was firebombed last Saturday, the same day two Istanbul synagogues were devastated by suicide truck bombs that killed 25 and wounded 300.
Turkey, which hopes to join the EU, suffered again at the hands of what are believed to be al-Qaeda inspired terrorists on Thursday with truck bomb attacks on British targets.
Following a spate of incidents in early 2002, the EUMC commissioned a report from the Centre for Research on Anti-semitism at Berlin's Technical University.
When the researchers submitted their work in October last year, however, the centre's senior staff and management board objected to their definition of anti-semitism, which included some anti-Israel acts. The focus on Muslim and pro-Palestinian perpetrators, meanwhile, was judged inflammatory.
"There is a trend towards Muslim anti-semitism, while on the left there is mobilisation against Israel that is not always free of prejudice," said one person familiar with the report. "Merely saying the perpetrators are French, Belgian or Dutch does no justice to the full picture."
Some EUMC board members had also attacked part of the analysis ascribing anti-semitic motives to leftwing and anti-globalisation groups, this person said. "The decision not to publish was a political decision."
The board includes 18 members - one for each member state, the European Commission, Parliament, and the council of Europe - as well as 18 deputies. One deputy, who declined to be named, confirmed the directors had seen the study as biased.
In July, Robert Wexler, a US congressman, wrote to Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, demanding the release of the study.
Ole Espersen, law professor at Copenhagen University and board member for Denmark, said the study was "unsatisfactory" and that some members had felt anti-Islamic sentiment should be addressed too.
The EUMC, which was set in 1998, has published three reports on anti-Islamic attitudes in Europe since the September 11 attacks in the US.
Beate Winkler, a director, said the report had been rejected because the initial time scale included in the brief - covering the period between May and June 2002 - was later judged to be unrepresentative. "There was a problem with the definition [of anti-semitism] too. It was too complicated," she said.
This week, Silvan Sha lom, Israel's foreign minister, proposed a joint ministerial council to fight what Israel sees as a rise in European anti-semitism.
Europeans putting ideology before facts?
How shocking! NOT!