Released by the Bureau of Democracy,
Human Rights, and Labor
January 5, 2005
Anti-Semitism in Europe and Eurasia
Anti-Semitism was a widely dispersed problem
in the region, although the severity and scope of abuses varied
significantly among individual countries. During the reporting period, the
most serious incidents of anti-Semitism—beatings and other physical
abuses—occurred in 12 countries. Verbal harassment was reported in 28
countries, while desecration of cemeteries and synagogues was reported in 30
countries. The recent rise in anti-Jewish acts and sentiments in Western
Europe was often influenced by Middle Eastern events or conflated with
In 16 countries in the Europe and Eurasia
region, there were few or no reported anti-Semitic incidents in recent
years. This report is not intended as a comprehensive description of all
incidents, but focuses on illustrative or particularly egregious cases. In
the European context, the number of incidents reported in some countries
reflects not only the depth of the problem, but also the thorough reporting
on anti-Semitism by active civil societies, religious representatives, and
governments themselves. As a result, there is sometimes an imbalance in the
scope of reporting in the country narratives below.
Government responses have varied as well.
Many European governments effectively prosecute those who perpetrate or
incite anti-Semitic attacks or harassment, while others include officials
who themselves make anti-Semitic statements or discriminate against Jews.
Many European leaders have condemned anti-Semitism and called for tolerance,
and several countries have joined the Council of Europe in declaring a
Holocaust Memorial Day. In a June 2003 anti-Semitism conference, the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) called on member
states to reaffirm their commitments to condemn racial and ethnic hatred,
including anti-Semitism, and to undertake effective follow-up plans of
action to demonstrate these commitments in practice. In response, some
countries have already implemented action plans.
The Jewish community reported several
incidents of verbal harassment during the reporting period. The director of
ALM TV frequently made anti-Semitic remarks on the air, and the Union of
Armenian Aryans, a small, ultranationalist group, called for the country to
be "purified" of Jews and Yezidis.
On September 17, offices of the Jewish
community in Yerevan received a message that vandals had damaged the local
memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Several photographs of the
memorial were taken and the vandalism was immediately reported to the local
police, the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and the government-owned
television channel. A television crew arrived at the site together with an
official from the Jewish community in Yerevan and to their surprise
discovered that the memorial had been wiped clean, apparently by the park
In May, Jewish groups complained to several
government authorities about the distribution and importation of hate
literature. Each government agency they contacted responded that the
literature was in apparent violation of the "Law on Distributing Literature
Inflaming National Hatred" and suggested they press formal charges with the
Prosecutor General's office. Jewish leaders have not yet decided whether to
The Austrian NGO Forum gegen Antisemitismus
(the Forum against Anti-Semitism, FGA) reported five physical attacks during
the reporting period and eight in 2003. On July 30, 2003, according to the
Coordination Forum, several unidentified persons beat an Orthodox Jew. The
man was attacked from behind and beaten with belts. The assailants fled the
scene and have not been arrested or identified. The victim was hospitalized
suffering from bruises but was fully conscious. In a separate incident, an
unknown assailant attacked two Orthodox Jews, one of whom was injured. In
another incident, skinheads attacked the vice-director of a Jewish school in
Vienna with a beer bottle, leaving the victim with injuries.
FGA also recorded 122 anti-Semitic incidents
in the first 11 months of the year and 134 in 2003. The incidents included
name-calling, graffiti/defacement, threatening letters, anti-Semitic
Internet postings, property damage, vilifying letters and telephone calls,
and physical attacks. The European Union's Monitoring Center on Racism and
Xenophobia declared that anti-Semitism in the country is characterized by
diffuse and traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes rather than by acts of
On May 24, the Coordination Forum reported
that a letter with anti-Semitic and xenophobic contents was received at the
Jewish Community Building in Vienna.
On June 1, in Villach, according to the
Anti-Defamation League (ADL), vandals smashed a memorial honoring Holocaust
victims in southern Austria. The memorial consisted of 17 glass plates
engraved with the names of 108 local Holocaust victims. Vandals previously
damaged the memorial in March 2003.
On October 24, the Coordination Forum
reported that anti-Semitic comments were made at a neo-Nazi convention in
the Province of Klagenfurt. Local authorities are examining whether holding
the convention was a violation of the law.
On November 25, 2003, according to the
Coordination Forum, an anonymous telephone call was received at the Jewish
school in Vienna; the caller said: "There is a bomb in the school." He
repeated the announcement and hung up. The school was evacuated and police
conducted a search of the premises, but found nothing.
The law prohibits any racially motivated or
anti-Semitic propaganda, and as a result, anti-Jewish propaganda does not
exist in government publications. Nongovernmental media that seek to promote
anti-Semitism cannot do so openly, but attempt to use veiled language that
is nevertheless clearly understood by most citizens. Such groups are under
close observation by the Government (especially the Bureau for Protection of
the Constitution) and by private anti-discrimination groups. The
Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance (DOEW) monitors the activities
and publications of extreme right-wing groups and considers the following to
contain revisionist and extremist viewpoints: Aula, Kommentare zur
Zeitgeschehen, Arbeitsgemeinschaft fuer demokratische Politik (AFP),
Huttenbriefe-Deutsches Kulturwerk Europaeischen Geistes (DKEG)/Deutsche
Kulturgemeinschaft (DKG), Die Kameradschaft (Kameradschaft IV (K IV)),
Fakten (published by "Die Kritischen Demokraten"), Der Eckart
(Oesterreichische Landsmannschaft (OELM)), PNO-Nachrichten (Partei Neue
Ordnung (PNO)), Top Secret – Phoenix, Die Umwelt, and Halt.
The 1947 Law Against Neo-Nazi Activity
("Verbotsgesetz") prohibits any form of neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism and any
type of activity in the spirit of National Socialism. In particular, it bans
National Socialist or neo-Nazi organizations, and prohibits incitement to
neo-Nazi activity, as well as the glorification or praise of National
Socialist ideology. It also prohibits public denial, belittlement, approval,
or justification of National Socialist crimes, including the Holocaust. The
Criminal Code prohibits public incitement to hostile acts, insult, or
contempt against a church or religious society, or public incitement against
a group based on race, nationality, or ethnicity, if that incitement could
pose a danger to the public order. The Government strictly enforces its
anti-neo-Nazi legislation and provides police protection for Jewish
community institutions. During the reporting period, the country implemented
the EU anti-discrimination guidelines.
The Ministry of the Interior's Internet
hotline for reporting National Socialist activity received 140 reports of
right-wing extremist activity, particularly in connection with the Internet.
The FGA reported that cooperation with the
police and federal and regional authorities is very good. The FGA also
stated that leading newspapers have been very responsive to requests to
remove anti-Semitic postings on their online forum pages.
The Government recognized the Jewish faith
community as one of 13 religious societies under an 1874 law. This had
wide-ranging implications, such as providing the authority to participate in
the mandatory church contributions program, to provide religious instruction
in public schools, and to bring religious workers into the country to act as
ministers, missionaries, or teachers. The Government also provided financial
support to religious teachers affiliated with religious societies at both
public and private schools.
Holocaust education was generally taught as
part of history instruction, but also was featured in other subjects under
the heading "political education (civics)." Religious education classes were
another forum for teaching the tenets of different religions and overall
Special teacher training seminars were
available on the subject of Holocaust education. The Education Ministry also
ran a program through which Holocaust survivors talked to school classes
about National Socialism and the Holocaust.
One example of a large-scale Holocaust
education project was the "Letters to the Stars" in 2003, in which more than
15,000 students participated. Students chose a Holocaust victim who had
lived in their neighborhood, did research on the person's life, and then
wrote a letter to that victim. The letters were released on balloons during
a ceremony on May 5.
The Mountain Jewish Community has resided in
the country for 2,700 years; the Ashkenazi Jews have been present for more
than 100 years.
Cases of prejudice and discrimination against
Jews in the country were very limited, and in the few instances of
anti-Semitic activity the Government has been quick to respond. There was
only one reported incident during the period covered by this report. In
April, the Lubavitch community received an anonymous letter containing
threats during the observance of Passover. The police and military responded
by blocking and securing Jewish places of worship to ensure the peaceful
observance of the Passover holiday. The subsequent investigation revealed
that a member of a small radical Islamic group wrote the letter, resulting
in his conviction and imprisonment.
The Government does not condone or tolerate
persecution of Jews by any party. No laws specifically address
According to the Union of Councils for
Jews in the Former Soviet Union (UCSJ), in 2003 memorials in Minsk and Lida
commemorating victims of genocide were vandalized. During the reporting
period, vandalism at Jewish cemeteries occurred in Bobruisk and Tcherven and
at a Holocaust memorial in Brest. The local authorities refused to react to
these incidents. The Prosecutor's office and the Committee for State
Security (KGB) did nothing to investigate groups of skinheads and Russian
National Unity (RNE), which functioned openly in Minsk, Grodno, Gomel,
Vitebsk, and Polotsk. The RNE was banned in the country.
According to Jewish leaders, cases of
vandalism decreased during the reporting period. Authorities initiated
investigations, but in the past 15 years no vandals have been fined or
jailed. The police failed to prosecute suspects to the fullest extent of the
law. The Government restored monuments and memorials that were vandalized.
The Government also allowed the erection of a memorial to Jews killed by
Soviet security forces at Kurapaty.
On August 18, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
notified the local chapter of the UCSJ that it would not be reregistered,
because the chapter submitted some documents late. The UCSJ is one of the
primary Jewish human rights organizations in the country and previously
worked with the Ministry of Education to provide material on the Holocaust.
Despite a May 2003 order by the Prosecutor
General and the Ministry of Information to terminate distribution of the
anti-Semitic and xenophobic newspaper Russki Vestnik, distribution of the
newspaper resumed in February through the government-distribution agency
Belzoyuzprechat. Sales of similar literature continued throughout the year
in government-owned buildings, in stores, and at events affiliated with the
Belarusian Orthodox Church (BOC). Anti-Semitic and Russian
ultranationalistic literature continued to be sold at Pravoslavnaya Kniga
(Orthodox Bookstore), a store operated by Orthodox Initiative that sells
Orthodox literature and religious paraphernalia. The head of the BOC,
Metropolitan Filaret, promised to stop such sales; however, no action has
In January, the RNE distributed anti-Semitic
leaflets in Gomel, which stated: "The Jews are trying to destroy
Christianity," "Now hostile activities against the Jews will begin," "The
Jews are the forces of evil," and "The fighters against God must be
exterminated." In addition, the letters RNE were sprayed on the walls of the
Jewish Community building in Gomel. No suspects were arrested.
There were reports of anti-Semitic statements
made by public officials. In September 2003, Sergei Kostyan, Deputy Chairman
of the International Affairs Committee of the Lower House of Parliament,
rejected criticism regarding the installation of a gas pipeline near a
Jewish cemetery in Maozyr. Kostyan accused Jews of sowing "ethnic discord."
During an October press conference, Information Minister Vladimir Rusakevich
said the country should live with Russia like brothers, but to bargain with
Russia "like a Yid."
The Committee of Religious and Nationalities
Affairs of the Council of Ministers (CRNA) reported that it regularly
responded to all public expressions of xenophobia by notifying the
government agencies responsible for pursuing legal action against the
perpetrators; however, no such legal actions were observed during the period
covered by this report.
In November, the quasi-governmental
Anti-Racism Center (Center for Equal Opportunity and the Struggle against
Racism and Other Forms of Discrimination) reported an increase in
anti-Semitism in recent years. The Center reported that the annual number of
complaints rose to 30 between 2000 and 2003; prior to 1999, an average of 4
anti-Semitic incidents were registered per year. There were 40 complaints
filed in the first 11 months of the year. The most serious incident was the
stabbing of a Jewish youth in Antwerp. Most complaints concerned
anti-Semitism in the media, on the Internet, graffiti, and verbal abuse. An
Anti-Racism Center spokesperson pointed out that the increase in the number
of incidents is partially due to increased reporting resulting from greater
On January 28, during an indoor
Belgium-Israel soccer match in the city of Hasselt, spectators with Hamas
and Hizballah banners heckled the Israelis and shouted anti-Semitic slogans,
some in Arabic. The city of Hasselt, the Anti-Racism Center, and a local
Jewish organization filed a criminal complaint over the incident a few days
later, which the police continued to pursue actively. No arrests were made
during the reporting period. In February, a group of students at a Jewish
school in Brussels were assaulted by youths from the neighborhood, which is
inhabited primarily by Muslim immigrants.
In late June, there were several incidents of
physical attacks on Jewish citizens. These incidents were prominently
covered in the national media. On June 24, a number of allegedly North
African youths assaulted four Jewish students as they departed their Jewish
school in an Antwerp suburb; one fleeing student was stabbed and seriously
injured. Jewish students at the school previously had been subjected to
verbal insult and harassment from these youths. On June 26, three Jewish
students from the same school were harassed by four youths in a car. One
fired what is believed to be a toy gun at the students before driving away;
there were no injuries. Later that evening, elsewhere in the Antwerp
suburbs, a 13-year-old Jewish boy was beaten by three youths. An 11-year-old
Moroccan and two Belgians, ages 8 and 16, were arrested and charged with
racially motivated assault and battery by a court for youthful offenders;
they were required to apologize to the victim and pay damages. Also that
evening, several immigrant youths reportedly kicked a Jewish youth
repeatedly on the main street of Antwerp, before escaping.
On October 30, at a youth soccer match
involving Maccabi Soccer Club, an Antwerp-based team composed mainly of
Jewish players, members of the opposite team shouted "Heil Hitler" and other
abusive language. The referee reported the incident in writing to the
Belgian Soccer Federation. On November 18, the Federation suspended the
offending team for a year and fined it $335 (250 euro), a considerable sum
for an amateur club. The Anti-Racism Center indicated that prosecution was a
The Jewish community was increasingly
concerned about anti-Semitism. Community representatives expressed concern
that criticism of Israel, particularly from the left, was increasingly being
transferred to the Jewish community. Senior representatives of the Muslim
community have vocally condemned anti-Semitic acts and have participated in
events organized by the Jewish community.
There continued to be a few cases of
anti-Semitic speech generated from extreme right, neo-Nazi groups. These
were pursued by the Anti-Racism Center, which won a conviction in September
2003 against two Holocaust deniers, such denial being illegal in the
country; the two were sentenced to a year in prison, a $670 (500 euro) fine,
and the costs of the trial.
The politically resurgent far right has not
only renounced anti-Semitism, but as part of an effort to appeal for Jewish
community votes in Antwerp, became a strong supporter of the Jewish
community and of stronger Belgian-Israeli relations.
Anti-Semitic acts or speech are illegal.
Several lawsuits were filed by government entities or by the Anti-Racism
Center, and there already were a few cases of courts issuing guilty
verdicts. The Government so far has had limited success in apprehending and
convicting (partly as a result of the very slow place of the judicial
processes) perpetrators of anti-Semitic acts. In one example of strong
government enforcement responsiveness, the police rapidly deployed a heavily
armed unit to a Jewish school in reaction to a possible threat.
The Government investigated web sites
containing anti-Semitic language with the intent of filing cases under
The Government continued to move forward with
its action plan against anti-Semitism, which was approved by the Council of
Ministers in July. In response to the anti-Semitic incidents of the past
year, protection for the Jewish community and its institutions was
strengthened. Ministerial changes over the summer may have slowed
implementation, but the commitment remained firm and effort continued.
The Minister of Social Integration convoked a
working group that included the Ministers of Justice and Interior,
enforcement agencies, the Anti-Racism Center, and representatives of the
Jewish community. In May, she also mandated the compilation of research on
the problem and perceptions of it. Promotion of tolerance education is a
major element of the Government's action plan against anti-Semitism.
Government officials at all levels, including
the Prime Minister, promptly condemned anti-Semitic incidents and remained
in close touch with the Jewish community. On June 26, the federal Minister
of Justice announced that she would require investigating magistrates to
prosecute those engaged in anti-Semitic acts, whether verbal, physical, or
on the Internet. On June 28, at a demonstration to protest growing
anti-Semitism, the mayor of Antwerp promised the city's Jewish community
that the police would make the problem their highest priority. On June 29,
the federal Minister of Interior announced increased police protection at
places such as schools and synagogues and said that the federal government
would investigate other measures. On June 30, Prime Minister Verhofstadt met
Jewish community leaders, expressed the Government's concern regarding
recent attacks, and noted the increased police protection. The following
day, he told Parliament that such incidents were attacks on the country's
fundamental values and institutions and would not be tolerated. The judicial
system has been tasked with giving such attacks full priority. For example,
in Brussels, 61 investigations and an indictment were underway, with similar
efforts in Antwerp. The Prime Minister also pledged to urge the regions to
intensify educational efforts to counter anti-Semitism and racism. Jewish
community leaders have indicated to foreign diplomatic observers that they
were reassured by government efforts, but they remained apprehensive
regarding new outbreaks of violence.
Investigations revealed that some recent
attacks on Jews had criminal or personal, not anti-Semitic origins.
The small Jewish community membership was
estimated to be between 500 and 1000 persons. The community maintained a
special place in society by virtue of its long history of coexistence with
other religious communities, and its active role in mediating among those
communities. However, isolated acts of vandalism were reported. For example,
in September, several tombstones in the Jewish cemetery in Sarajevo were
vandalized. Jewish leaders state that there was a growing tendency in the
country to mix anti-Israeli sentiment with acts of anti-Semitism, as the
general public and media often fail to distinguish between criticism of
Israeli policy and anti-Semitic rhetoric. Following the terrorist attack
against a mosque in Turkey during the reporting period, the Jewish community
was quickly granted police security at its synagogues and no incidents were
The Jewish population is estimated to total
3,000 persons. The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC), in cooperation with
Shalom, the primary Jewish organization in the country, conducted a survey
of all print media from December 2002 through December 2003 for instances of
anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli articles and comments. The project examined
2,162 Jewish/Israeli-related articles and found only around 7 percent to be
anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli, or pro-extremist; of these, over 50 percent were
anti-Israeli. Of these negative articles, 74 percent were concentrated in
two publications (52 percent in Monitor and 22 percent in Sega), which
combined make up a small segment of the national mass media; the articles in
Sega tended to be exclusively critical of Israel and its policies.
The Croatian Jewish community has
approximately 2,000 members and had generally good relations with the police
and other governmental institutions. In June, a member of the municipal
council in Dubrovnik commented on a potential Jewish hotel investor that
when, "choosing between Serbs and Jews, Jews were still a greater evil."
Local authorities and the Government condemned the comments; the local
branch of the ruling party took no disciplinary action against its member.
The Croatia Working Group of the ITF focused
on the implementation of Holocaust-related educational programs,
dissemination of academic knowledge on the Holocaust, and preservation of
the memory of the victims.
A small, but persistent and fairly well
organized, extreme right-wing movement with anti-Semitic views exists in the
In August, unknown vandals toppled
approximately 80 tombstones at a Jewish cemetery in the eastern town of
Hranice. In October, vandals damaged a memorial to victims of the Holocaust
for the second time since it was erected in July in the town of Bohumin.
According to local Jewish leader, the memorial was covered in brown paint.
The memorial was built on the site of a former synagogue, which was
destroyed by fire during World War II. In November, a swastika was daubed on
a wall of the ancient Altneu Synagogue in Prague, and two youths were
arrested in a pub in Sumerk after they shouted "Heil Hitler." They continued
giving the Nazi salute even after police removed them from the pub.
In October and November 2003, unknown vandals
damaged gravestones at Jewish cemeteries in eastern Bohemia. In November
2003, police in the northern Bohemian town of Krupka apprehended two youths
painting Nazi symbols on a monument to the victims of a World War II death
On January 30, police arrested Denis
Gerasimov, member of the Russian Neo-Nazi band Kolovkrat, and charged him
with supporting and propagating a movement aimed at suppressing human
rights. Gerasimov was detained at Prague's Ruzyne International Airport
after police found large amounts of Nazi propaganda in his luggage. His case
was pending at year's end.
The Ministry of Interior continued its
efforts to counter the neo-Nazis, which included monitoring their
activities, close cooperation with police units in neighboring countries,
and concentrated efforts to shut down unauthorized concerts and gatherings
of neo-Nazi groups.
From January through June, there were
five incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism, primarily graffiti, and one
incident of an anti-Semitic mailing, which the Government criticized and
investigated. Reported incidents also involved theft and racist Internet and
written messages. Minority group members were sometimes the perpetrators of
the incidents. The Government effectively investigated and dealt with cases
of racially motivated violence.
The law prohibits publicly disseminated
statements that threaten, insult, or degrade persons based on their
religion. In November 2003, the Government launched an action plan to
Promote Equal Treatment and Diversity and Combat Racism (Equal Treatment
Plan). Although not exclusively aimed at anti-Semitism, the goal of the
Equal Treatment Plan was to ensure protection for all citizens, regardless
of their beliefs. Under the Equal Treatment Plan, the Government allocated
$416,000 (2.5 million DKK) for education and integration programs to combat
During the reporting period, a number of
World War II veterans groups held commemorations for Estonians who fought in
German uniform (including that of the Waffen SS) against the Soviet
occupation. In one case a monument was erected depicting a soldier in Waffen
SS uniform, absent Nazi insignia. The Government had the monument removed in
September. There were reports that participants made anti-Semitic remarks in
response to international criticism of these events. The commemorations
generated considerable public commentary on how Estonia could appropriately
honor its war dead. The Government subsequently tasked the Ministry of
Population and Ethnic Affairs with creating a plan for an appropriate
memorial, and a nonpartisan parliamentary commission has been established
for that purpose.
In March, two persons were arrested in the
northeastern town of Sillamae for painting anti-Semitic slogans and
swastikas on the walls of a building. They were charged with incitement. On
April 16, the rabbi of a synagogue in Tallinn found a swastika painted on
In June 2003, three skinheads were sentenced
to conditional imprisonment for activities that publicly incited hatred on
the basis of national origin and race. They were convicted for having drawn
swastikas and anti-Semitic inscriptions on buildings in Sillamae. There are
two pending investigations related to the posting of anti-Semitic remarks on
The country introduced an annual Holocaust
and Other Crimes against Humanity Memorial Day in January 2003. Members of
the parliament and ambassadors attended the ceremony marking the first
observation of this day in Tallinn.
Following a July meeting with the President
of the Jewish Community of Estonia, the Prime Minister said that the
Government "was determined to condemn any signs of anti-Semitism and
racism." He also said that the Government needed to continue raising
awareness of the country's recent history.
At the Berlin OSCE Anti-Semitism Conference
in April, the Minister of Population and Ethnic Affairs said that government
preparation of law enforcement officers would have to include sensitivity
training so the country could more effectively act against manifestations of
intolerance, xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism.
There were a few reports of anti-Semitic
activity, chiefly graffiti such as swastikas with anti-Semitic slogans being
spray-painted in public locales. Support for the Palestinians was strong,
and critiques of Israeli policy occasionally took on anti-Semitic features.
The Helsingin Sanomat, the country's largest newspaper, ran a political
cartoon in a magazine supplement that was interpreted by members of the
Jewish community and others as anti-Semitic. The newspaper subsequently
The Government condemned the resurgence of
anti-Semitism in Europe. In June, the Justice Ministry ruled that the
distributor of an anti-Semitic book was liable under the country's "hate
speech" provisions; the distributor was ordered to pay a fine and the book
was removed from circulation. The Parliament and a local NGO cosponsored a
conference in Helsinki on anti-Semitism, and officials played an active role
in international conferences and fora on anti-Semitism. The Government
sponsored a visit of a Holocaust survivor to the country to speak with
schoolchildren about the Jewish experience during World War II.
The Government reports that there were
510 anti-Semitic incidents (both actions and threats) in the first 6 months
of the year, as compared to 593 for all of 2003 and 932 for 2002. Interior
Minister Dominique de Villepin announced in August that there were 160
attacks against persons or property in the first 7 months of 2004 versus 75
during the same period in 2003. More recently, Justice Minister Dominique
Perben stated that there were 298 anti-Semitic acts between January 1 and
August 20, of which 162 were attacks against property, 67 were assaults
against individuals, and 69 were press violations. This compares, according
to Perben, with 108 for all of 2003.
The National Consultative Commission on Human
Rights (NCCHR) released an extensive analysis of anti-Semitic incidents
reported by the police in 2003. Such incidents ranged from graffiti and
desecration (256) and verbal or written harassment (166) to the diffusion of
written tracts (31) and bomb threats (10). There were 21 persons injured in
anti-Semitic attacks in 2003. Based on investigations of the attacks, the
NCCHR stated its conclusions that disaffected French-North African youths
were responsible for many of the incidents, which French officials linked to
tensions in Israel and the Palestinian territories. A small number of
incidents were also attributed to extreme-right and extreme-left
In its report on anti-Semitic attacks in
2003, the NCCHR focused on an increase in the proportion of anti-Semitic
incidents that took place in schools. In 2003, 22 of 125 attacks (18
percent) and 73 of 463 threats (16 percent) occurred in schools; the report
shows this to be the highest proportion of incidents in schools since 1997,
the oldest data in the report.
On May 30, in Boulogne-Billancourt, a
17-year-old Jewish youth was attacked outside his home by a group of young
men yelling anti-Semitic slogans. The youth is the son of a local rabbi.
In June, an individual shouting "Allah Akbar"
stabbed a Jewish student and assaulted two other Jewish students in the city
of Epinay-sur-Seine. This same person is believed to be responsible for
similar knife attacks on five other victims, including those of Haitian and
Algerian origin. A suspect, reportedly identified by several of the victims,
was in custody at the end of the period covered by this report. The varied
and random nature of the victims made the true motive of the attacks hard to
In 2003, some Jewish groups were outraged
when a court ordered that--in the case of two 11-year-old Muslim youths
expelled for accusations of physical and verbal attacks against a Jewish
student--the two students be readmitted to school, and also ordered the
Government to reimburse the families $1,340 (1,000 euro) each for court
costs. The courts found that, while the behavior of the Muslim students
merited action, the age of the students and the circumstances did not
On March 23, in Toulon, a Jewish synagogue
and community center was set on fire. According to media reports, the
arsonist broke a window and threw a Molotov cocktail into the building.
There was minor damage and no injuries.
On May 7, in Villier-le-Bel, a small
explosive device was discovered outside a synagogue north of Paris.
According to media reports, the bomb was in a bag with the writing "Boom
anti-Jews" and a swastika. On May 14, an 18-year-old man was found guilty of
putting the fake bombs on the grounds of the synagogue and was sentenced to
2 months in prison.
On October 29-30, close to 100 gravestones
were desecrated at a Jewish cemetery in Brumath, just outside Strasbourg.
The vandals painted swastikas and "SS" symbols on 92 Jewish gravestones.
In November 2003, Hizballah's Al-Manar
satellite television channel broadcast an anti-Semitic, Egyptian
pseudo-documentary called "Ash Shatat" (The Diaspora). The Government and
Jewish organizations strongly criticized Al-Manar for the blatant
anti-Semitism of this series and for the incendiary intent of some of
Al-Manar's news coverage. These complaints against Al-Manar prompted the
Audio Visual Superior Council (CSA) to seek to cut off Al-Manar's
dissemination via its France-based satellite operator, Eutelsat. France's
highest appeals court for regulatory matters, the Conseil d'Etat, ruled in
August that Al-Manar could continue satellite broadcasting pending
application for a broadcast license from the CSA. The CSA then entered into
negotiations with Al-Manar that resulted in the agreement and temporary
license. The CSA signed a 1-year, limited license with Al-Manar on November
19 that included provisions banning anti-Semitic broadcasts, propaganda in
favor of suicide bombings, and the diffusion of hate. The CSA's reversal of
its decision to cut off Al-Manar was vigorously protested by Jewish
organizations. Shortly thereafter, the CSA petitioned the Conseil d'Etat to
ban the station based on anti-Semitic programming broadcast after Al-Manar
signed the restricted license. On December 13, the Conseil d'Etat ordered
Eutelsat to cease broadcasts of Al-Manar within 48 hours. Prime Minister
Raffarin has called Al-Manar's anti-Semitic programming "incompatible with
French values" and urged the issue of satellite broadcasts be taken up at
the EU level. Authorities are similarly investigating Iranian-broadcast
Government officials at the highest level
vigorously and publicly condemned acts of anti-Semitism. In October, the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs called comments by Radio France International
editor Alain Menargues "unacceptable." In an interview publicizing his book
on the West Bank security barrier, Menargues called Israel a "racist" state.
Menargues was forced to resign as a result of his comments.
Of these anti-Semitic acts committed during
the reporting period, the Minister of Justice reported that suspects have
been identified in 59 of the cases, resulting in 46 cases going to court and
13 cases closed after the offender paid a fine or was found legally
inculpable. Of the 2003 incidents, the Government reported that police had
sufficient evidence to question 91 suspects, arrest 69 suspects, and bring
to trial 43 suspects. In 2003, there were 7 convictions for anti-Semitic
attacks committed that year and 15 convictions for attacks committed in
2002; punishments ranged from fines to 4 years' imprisonment.
Authorities condemned anti-Semitic attacks,
maintained heightened security at Jewish institutions, investigated the
attacks, made arrests, and pursued prosecutions. More than 13 mobile units,
totaling more than 1,200 police officers, were assigned to those locales
having the largest Jewish communities. Fixed or mobile police were present
in the schools, particularly during the hours when children are entering or
leaving school buildings. All of these measures were coordinated closely
with leaders of the Jewish communities in the country, notably the
Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF). In addition,
the Ministry of Interior has earmarked $20.1 million (15 million euro) for
additional security at Jewish sites.
In November 2003, after an arson attack
destroyed a Jewish school in Gagny, President Chirac stated, "An attack on a
Jew is an attack on France" and ordered the formation of an interministerial
committee charged with leading an effort to combat anti-Semitism. Since its
first meeting in December 2003, the committee has worked to improve
government coordination in the fight against anti-Semitism, including the
timely publication of statistics and reinforced efforts to prosecute
In June, the Government commissioned
Jean-Cristophe Rufin, a doctor, writer, and president of the humanitarian
association Action Against Hunger, to prepare an in-depth report on racism
and anti-Semitism in the country. The Rufin Report, released in October,
concluded that racism and anti-Semitism attacked the country's republican
values and threatened democracy. The report identified the perpetrators of
anti-Semitic acts as elements of the extreme right, Maghrebian (North
African origin) youth, and "disaffected individuals" whose anti-Semitic
obsessions prompt their attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions. The
Rufin Report also warned against radical anti-Zionists who question Israel's
right to exist. The report recommended that a law be created to punish those
publicly equating Israel or Zionism with apartheid or Nazism. The report
also recommended removing injunctions against incitement to racism and
anti-Semitism from the press law and writing a new law, specific to those
crimes. The current provisions in the press law are too cumbersome for
prosecuting public hate speech and too lenient in their sanctions against
private hate speech, it notes.
Many local and international Jewish
organizations, as well as foreign governments, praised the Government for
vigorous action in combating anti-Semitism; however, some groups asserted
that the judicial system was lax in its sentencing of anti-Semitic
The Government took steps to combat
intolerance, particularly among the youth. In March, the Government
published an educational tool, intended to help public school teachers
promote tolerance and combat anti-Semitism and racism; however, it is still
too early to judge its efficacy. In August, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe
sent letters to all Paris-area school principals calling for "debates on
anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination" when classes resume in September.
In addition, the Minister of Education called for a national debate in
schools at the beginning of the academic year to highlight the need for
tolerance and announced that 5,500 schools would receive copies of the film
"Shoah" for use in classroom education. These actions followed the creation
of a National Commission to Combat anti-Semitism in schools in 2003.
The Government has taken other proactive
steps to fight anti-Semitic attacks, including instructing police
commissioners to create monitoring units in each department and announcing
in June the creation of a department-level Council of Religions that will
raise public awareness of increased racial and anti-sectarian incidents. In
September, the Mayor of Paris launched a campaign to fight all forms of
intolerance that included 1,200 municipal billboards and bulletins in major
Approximately 87,500 persons are members
of Jewish congregations and account for 0.1 percent of the population.
According to press reports, the country's Jewish population is growing
rapidly; more than 100,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union have come to
the country since 1990, with smaller numbers arriving from other countries
as well. Not all new arrivals join congregations, resulting in the
discrepancy between population numbers and the number of congregation
While anti-Semitism based on religious
doctrines and traditional anti-Jewish prejudices continued to exist, Jewish
leaders, academics, and others believe that a newer, nontraditional form of
anti-Semitism is emerging in the country. This form tends to promote
anti-Semitism as part of its other stands against globalization, capitalism,
Zionism, and foreigners. According to the 2003 report by the Office for the
Protection of the Constitution, the total number of registered anti-Semitic
crimes decreased to 1,199 (from 1,515 in 2002). However, among these, the
number of violent crimes increased from 28 to 35, and the number of
desecrations of Jewish cemeteries, synagogues, or memorials went up from 78
On July 22, a 15-year-old boy in Hagen, along
with two others, threatened synagogue visitors with a knife and made
On July 31, a young man wearing a Star of
David sticker was walking on a street in Pankow, a suburb of Berlin, when a
right-wing extremist put a National Democratic Party (NPD) leaflet in his
hand. After dropping the leaflet on the sidewalk, the rightist attempted to
strangle the victim and throw him on the ground. The victim had minor
injuries, and the police arrested the offender.
In August, the Zionist Organization of
Frankfurt received an eyewitness report that four men harassed an
English-speaking orthodox Jew in downtown Frankfurt. According to the
report, the men shouted "they forgot to send your parents to the gas
chamber" and jostled the individual until he fell to the ground. The men
fled the scene immediately. Police refused to disclose the victim's identity
or other information on the incident.
An ancient Jewish cemetery in Duesseldorf was
desecrated in June. Forty-five gravestones were covered with swastikas, SS
signs, and anti-Jewish slogans. Other Jewish cemeteries, including in
Bochum, Nickenich, and Bausendorf, were vandalized during the reporting
period. Police investigators were unable to identify the perpetrators.
On September 23, 350 people demonstrated in
the district of Neunkirchen (Saarland) against the desecration of the
Hermanstrasse Jewish cemetery earlier in the month. According to police, the
desecration nearly destroyed the cemetery. Vandals have desecrated the
Hermanstrasse graves on 10 occasions since 1971, including twice during the
reporting period. The incident took place after significant electoral gains
by the far-right party NPD in Neunkirchen (5.6 percent) and neighboring
Voelklingen (9.7 percent) in Saarland's September 5 state elections.
During the reporting period, the extreme
right wing "National Democratic Party" (NPD) organized two demonstrations in
the city of Bochum under the motto "stop the construction of the synagogue –
give the 4 million to the people!"
Jewish community leaders expressed
disappointment in the leaders of other religious communities, as well as in
some local and national politicians, for not speaking out more forcefully
against anti-Semitism. In October 2003, Martin Hohmann, a Christian
Democratic Union (CDU) Member of Parliament, publicly compared the actions
of Jews during the Russian Revolution to those of the Nazis during the
Holocaust. These remarks led to a criminal complaint alleging incitement and
slander and to the opening of an inquiry. Hohmann was expelled from the CDU
Bundestag Caucus in November 2003 and from the CDU Hesse state organization
in July. Leading politicians from all major parties continued to assert that
neo-Nazi groups posed a serious threat to public order and to call for
continuing vigilance by law enforcement agencies. On the other hand, some
observers blamed the actions in the Middle East for rising anti-Semitism.
Frankfurt's Jewish community harshly
criticized anti-Semitism on the part of some Islamic representatives at the
October Frankfurt Book Fair. Jewish representatives cited open displays of
anti-Semitic texts such as the Saudi Arabian book "Terror and Zionist
Thinking" (featuring a cover illustration of a person standing in a pool of
blood with a skull and a Star of David).
The Aachen-based Islamist group, the Al Aqsa
Association, which was banned by Federal Interior Minister Otto Schilly in
2002 due to its financial support of the terrorist organization Hamas,
lodged an appeal against the ban at the Federal Administrative Court in
August 2002. In July, the court decided to suspend the ban until conclusion
of the proceedings. In a final decision on December 3, the Federal
Administrative Court in Leipzig confirmed the ban of the Al Aqsa
Nine members of the Kameradschaft Süd, a
neo-Nazi gang from Southern Germany, were charged in an alleged 2003 plot to
bomb the site of a planned Jewish community center in downtown Munich. The
first of two trials started in October involving three teenage girls and two
men. The public has been largely excluded from this trial in order to
protect the defendant minors. The trial of the alleged ringleader, Martin
Wiese, and three members of his inner leadership circle began in November.
Distribution of the propaganda of proscribed
organizations, statements inciting racial hatred and endorsing Nazism, and
denial of the Holocaust are illegal, and the authorities sought to block
what they considered dangerous material on the Internet. In March, police
nationwide raided over 300 apartments to search for and seize right-wing
extremist CDs and other banned music products. The state of Lower Saxony
took legal action against some of the growing number of neo-Nazi musical
bands in the state, which called for violence or employed xenophobic or
racist lyrics. In 2003, members of the Berlin neo-Nazi band "Landser" were
convicted of forming a criminal organization and sentenced to terms ranging
from 21 months probation to 3 years and 4 months in prison.
Officials estimated that there were more than
1,000 Internet sites with what they considered to be objectionable or
dangerous right-wing extremist content. The Federal Court of Justice held
that the country's laws against Nazi incitement might apply to individuals
who post Nazi material on Internet sites available to users in the country,
even if the site resides on a foreign server.
In April, the Government hosted a historic
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) conference on
anti-Semitism. With strong support from the Government, the conference led
to a declaration calling on OSCE member states to implement a set of
concrete measures to combat anti-Semitism.
Authorities ran a variety of
tolerance-education programs, many focusing on anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
Government agencies cooperated with NGOs in the formulation and
administration of these programs. These measures included promoting
educational programs that not only fight anti-Semitism, but also remember
the Holocaust and foster tolerance and respect for all religious groups;
collecting and maintaining information of anti-Semitic incidents and other
hate crimes; and compiling best practices. With active participation from
the Muslim community, Hamburg has begun work on establishing interreligious
education at public schools, labeled the "Hamburg Model."
Vandalism of Jewish monuments continued
to be a problem during the reporting period; however, the Government
condemned the acts. Jewish monuments in Ioannina were desecrated three times
in 2003. The Holocaust memorial in Thessaloniki was desecrated in February
2003. Police have not found perpetrators. Anti-Semitic graffiti was painted,
removed by authorities, and repainted in several places on the busy
Athens-Corinth Highway. The extreme right-wing group "Golden Dawn" regularly
paints anti-Semitic graffiti on bridges and other structures throughout
Greece. Some schoolbooks still carry negative references to Roman Catholics,
Jewish persons, and others. Bookstores in Northern Greece sold and displayed
anti-Semitic literature including "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
The Wiesenthal Center issued a travel
advisory in November 2003 warning Jewish visitors about "the failure of
Greece to curb growing anti-Semitism;" however, local Jewish community
leaders do not support the advisory. The National Tourist Organization
continued to promote on its website Easter traditions such as the burning of
an effigy of Judas on some islands, sometimes known locally as the "burning
of the Jew," which propagate hatred and fanaticism against Jews. The
Wiesenthal Center protested the revival of this tradition.
Anti-Semitism continued to exist, both in the
mainstream and extremist press. The Wiesenthal Center and the ADL denounced
the press for anti-Semitic articles and cartoons on several occasions,
particularly after Israeli forces killed Hamas leader Sheik Yassin. The line
between opposition to Israeli policies and attitudes toward Jews in general
is often blurred, giving rise to anti-Semitic sentiment in the media and
among the public.
The mainstream media often use the terms
"genocide" and "Holocaust" to describe the situation in Israel and the West
Bank/Gaza, drawing a parallel with Nazi Germany. The press and public often
do not clearly distinguish between Israeli policies and Jews. The Jewish
community leaders have condemned anti-Semitic broadcasts on small private
television stations, but no charges have been brought against these largely
The renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis
called Jews "the root of evil" in November 2003, and made strong
anti-Semitic remarks during the reporting period. Government officials
stated that Theodorakis' statements were directed against Israel and not
against the Jewish people.
Populist Orthodox Rally (LAOS), a small,
extreme right-wing party, supports virulent nationalism, anti-Semitism,
racism, and xenophobia. LAOS's leader, George Karatzaferis, won a seat in
the European Parliament in June elections. Karatzaferis regularly attributes
negative events involving Greece to international Jewish plots. He used the
party-owned television station to denounce politicians with Jewish origins
and to claim that Jews were behind the September 11 attacks.
The Government condemned all acts of
vandalism. The Government provided 24-hour police protection to Jewish
Community offices in Athens and other major cities. Negotiations between the
Jewish Community of Thessaloniki and the Government to find acceptable
recompense for the community's cemetery were ongoing.
The Constitution establishes the Eastern
Orthodox Church of Christ (Greek Orthodoxy) as the prevailing religion, but
also provides for the rights of all citizens to practice the religion of
their choice. Jews freely practice their religion, and Jewish organizations
have not complained or requested additional legal protection.
Judaism is one of the three religious groups
(the others are Greek Orthodox and Islam) considered to be "legal persons of
public law." In practice, this beneficial distinction primarily means that
Jewish organizations can own property as religious entities rather than as
On January 15, the Parliament unanimously
approved the declaration of January 27, the day Auschwitz was liberated, as
Holocaust Remembrance Day. The following week, the country commemorated
Holocaust Remembrance Day with events in Athens and Thessaloniki and the
participation of Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. In April, a commemorative stone
was placed at the railway station from which Jews were deported to
In October, the Government participated in
the organization of a seminar on "Teaching the Holocaust." Held under the
auspices of the Ministry of Education, it addressed 150 educators and Athens
University education majors. This teacher-training seminar aimed to
introduce Holocaust education in primary and secondary schools.
A memorial to Greek-Jewish veterans of World
War II was unveiled in October 2003 in Thessaloniki.
The Jewish community stated that there
were fewer acts of vandalism in Jewish cemeteries than in 2003, attributed
most of the incidents to youths, and did not consider the incidents
On July 1, a Jewish cemetery in northern
Hungary was vandalized. More than 90 gravestones were smashed just weeks
after the local town council had renovated the cemetery to mark the 60th
anniversary of the Holocaust.
Representatives of the Jewish community
expressed concern over anti-Semitism in some media outlets, in society, and
in coded political speech. For example, certain segments of an ongoing
Sunday news magazine, Vasarnapi Ujsag, on Hungarian Public Radio were
criticized for presenting guests who held anti-Semitic viewpoints. In
October 2003, a weekly talk show, Ejjeli Menedek, reported on Holocaust
denier David Irving, who made derogatory statements regarding Jewish
persons. The show was subsequently cancelled. The weekly newspaper Magyar
Demokrata published anti-Semitic articles and featured articles by authors
who have denied the Holocaust.
Jewish Community Mazsihisz representatives
requested the Ministry of Cultural Heritage to close a county museum
exhibition highlighting the Arrow Cross and Hungarian nationalism during
World War II. The exhibition was closed, and the materials were returned to
their owners. During their visit to the country in April, the Chief Rabbi
and the President of Israel spoke positively of the situation of the Jewish
community in Hungary.
Local NGOs are attempting to get a court
order stripping the neo-Nazi group "Blood and Honor" of its official
registration. A new unregistered neo-Nazi group, "Hungarian Future," planned
a public demonstration to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the fascist
takeover of the country. Several groups have planned anti-fascist counter
demonstrations for the same day and at the same locale. The police have
found no legal grounds on which to ban the demonstration.
On April 5, hundreds of persons participated
in the unveiling ceremony of a statue of Pal Teleki, the Prime Minister of
Hungary in the 1920s, who was the first in Europe to enact anti-Semitic
legislation. The Minister of Culture, Istvan Hiller, cancelled plans for
setting up the statue (in Budapest) in the wake of pressures from the
Wiesenthal Center. The statue, which was to have been set up opposite the
President's official residence in Budapest, was eventually built in the
courtyard opposite the Catholic church in the town of Balatonbolgar on the
shore of Lake Balaton.
The Government made strong efforts to combat
anti-Semitism by clearly speaking out against the use of coded speech by
right-wing extremists, and the Prime Minister himself publicly stated that
Hungarians were also responsible for the Holocaust.
The 1997 changes to the hate speech law that
were intended to resolve conflicting court decisions and make it easier to
enforce and stiffen penalties for hate crimes committed on the basis of the
victim's ethnicity, race, or nationality proved inadequate and often led to
conflicting court decisions. In early 2003, the Office of the Prosecutor
successfully prosecuted a member of the extremist Justice and Life Party for
publishing an anti-Semitic article in a local newspaper. In November 2003,
the Budapest Appeals Court acquitted a former Member of Parliament, who is a
Calvinist pastor, of a charge of incitement to hatred. The conflicting court
decisions prompted Parliament to pass a more restrictive law on hate speech,
this time incorporating religious groups within its scope. Pressured from
both the right and the left, President Madl referred it to the
Constitutional Court for an advisory opinion in January. In May, the
Constitutional Court ruled that the law is too vague and returned it to
Parliament for refinement.
Harassment of the Jewish community in the
country was infrequent and not organized. The absence of anti-Semitism may
have been due to the fact that the Jewish population was tiny and
inconspicuous. Iceland had no synagogue, no Jewish community center, and no
Jewish religious services available. The Jewish population had yet to
organize formally and register as a religious community under applicable
law. Anti-Semitism rarely figured in Icelandic news reports. The Government
and NGOs had no programs to counter anti-Semitism.
One incident of harassment was reported in
August. A Jewish visitor reported in an online news magazine that he and a
friend had been harassed by a group of young teenagers who pointed at his
yarmulke, gave a 'Heil Hitler' salute, and then briefly blocked the
visitors' exit from a parking lot, intimidating them. An Icelandic daily
newspaper picked up the story, sparking over 30 online comments from
Iceland-based correspondents. Some of the comments were themselves
anti-Semitic or xenophobic in tone and content.
The March 22 issue of Icelandic tabloid
newspaper DV carried a cartoon that raised concerns in the small Jewish
community. The drawing showed a flying saucer that had touched down next to
Jerusalem's Western Wall. Two smiling aliens, anthropomorphized as
swastikas, were disembarking and pointing. Their speech balloon contained
nonsense signs. Facing them and bearing expressions of shock were two
Orthodox Jews, with hats, tallis, black coats, and sidelocks. The cartoon's
caption stated, "The 'Galactic Council' regarded the situation in the Middle
East on the planet Earth as threatening to the stability of the solar
system, viewed in the long term, and thus sent its best negotiators, Zorg
and Xuri, to the scene for talks." The cartoonist seemed to be suggesting
that the solution to the Middle East conflict would be to dispatch Nazis to
Holocaust education was not required by the
national curriculum. However, the Ministry of Education mandated that the
subject be covered as part of mandatory history education. References to the
Holocaust appeared in several textbooks that touch on Nazism and persecution
against Jews and other minorities in 1930s and 1940s Germany and in the
countries it occupied. According to staff of the state textbook producer,
teachers were permitted to take the initiative for more in-depth teaching on
the subject than the little that was offered in textbooks.
During the reporting period, the Irish Times
newspaper reported three instances of anti-Semitism in the country. One
incident included a swastika painted on the Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin,
while the other incidents involved vandalism at a Jewish cemetery and
synagogue. A 2003 study by the European Commission's European Monitoring
Center on Racism and Xenophobia described the country as having "relatively
little reported in the way of a problem with anti-Semitism." In fact, the
study categorized all the 2003 cases as "abusive behavior" (threatening
letters or phone calls), totaling only 16. Recent evidence shows that these
acts may be interrelated with the emergence of a racist group calling itself
Irish Nationalist, which has expressed anti-British and anti-Israeli views.
In spite of these developments, the country has very little evidence of
The most recent study, published by the
Government's National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism
(NCCRI), showed increases in "cases of abuse or discrimination, which is
above average from past studies." However, further research of most of these
cases occurred soon after a citizenship referendum was held in May, that
allowed citizens to vote on whether or not being born in Ireland provided
automatic citizenship. It was discovered that most of the reported abuse and
discrimination cases involved refugees and new immigrants. In spite of this
slight increase, only one percent of discrimination reports were based on
racial or ethnic origin. In addition, the Irish Police's (An Garda Siochana)
Racial and Intercultural Unit also "records racially motivated crime" and
provides police with instruction booklets on how to interact with different
ethnic, cultural, and racial groups. The Police Commissioner has also
appointed Police Ethnic Liaison Officers in district and divisional police
stations throughout the country. The country consistently follows the EU
laws and regulations regarding religious tolerance.
During its EU Presidency, Ireland encouraged
all member states to be pro-active in combating anti-Semitism and explained
how proper education and training about anti-Semitism, human rights, and
cultural diversity would strengthen the EU community and reduce
discrimination. On the international level, the country has sponsored a UN
Resolution on Religious Tolerance for the last 20 years. In response to
Israel's request that anti-Semitism be specifically mentioned in the annual
resolution for 2003, Ireland proposed a General Assembly resolution on
anti-Semitism, which all EU member states supported.
Surveys conducted by independent research
centers confirmed the persistence of some societal prejudices against
Judaism. Recent public opinion surveys indicate that anti-Semitism is
growing in Italy. According to pollsters, this trend is tied to, and in some
cases fed by, widespread opposition to the Sharon Government and popular
support for the Palestinian cause. There have been examples of anti-Semitic
graffiti in several large cities. In November, vandals desecrated several
graves at a Jewish cemetery in Reggio Emilia, but no anti-Semitic signs or
inscriptions were found at the site.
In January, Prime Minister Berlusconi created
a new "Inter-Ministerial Commission to Combat Anti-Semitism" to ensure
strong, uniform responses to any anti-Semitic acts by the police and
government officials. In April, the mayor of Rome announced the
establishment of a museum dedicated to the Shoah. In November, the
Government created a new office to combat racial and ethnic discrimination
through education, mass media campaigns, and judicial assistance to victims
of discrimination. The new office lists Muslims, Jews, and foreign workers
as the three cultural minorities most likely to face racial or ethnic
prejudice in the country. In 2003, the Parliament approved the creation of a
National Holocaust Memorial Museum in Ferrara; planning is in process, but
construction has not begun. In November 2003, newly appointed Foreign
Minister (and Deputy Prime Minister) Gianfranco Fini publicly repudiated his
party's Fascist origins, condemned Mussolini's treatment of the Jews, and
sought forgiveness during a historic visit to Israel.
The Government hosted meetings to increase
educational awareness of the Holocaust and to combat anti-Semitism in
The country commemorated Holocaust
Remembrance Day on January 27. During the reporting period, thousands
marched in commemorative processions across the country, several cities
staged exhibitions of the 'memory train' used to transport Italian Jews to
Nazi concentration camps, and Italian public school students participated in
educational and commemorative programs in schools.
With the Foreign Ministry and the Office of
the Prime Minister, the Anti-Defamation League hosted a conference on
anti-Semitism in Rome in December. Prime Minister Berlusconi, Foreign
Minister Fini, and other high-ranking Italian officials participated in the
The Vatican made a serious effort to combat
anti-Semitism. The Holy See is active in OSCE endeavors and sent a
high-level delegation to the April OSCE anti-Semitism conference in Berlin.
A Vatican document released on March 8, instructed bishops on the exercise
of their ministry, and implored them to encourage respect for Jews to combat
anti-Semitism. It also asked bishops to ensure that the study of Judaism is
on the curriculum in their seminaries for priests and to promote dialogue
regarding Judaism. The Pope made several statements condemning
anti-Semitism. These attracted notice of the Jewish community. For example,
Israel's Chief Rabbis expressed thanks to the Pope for his strong
condemnation of anti-Semitism during a January 16 audience.
Other than the actions of members of Hizb
ut-Tahrir, who printed and distributed leaflets that supported anti-Semitism
among other beliefs, there were no reports of anti-Semitic incitement or
acts during the reporting period. There were reports of anti-Semitic
propaganda in pamphlets distributed by followers of Hizb ut-Tahrir. The
Government considers Hizb ut-Tahrir to be an illegal extremist group and has
taken action to prosecute members engaged in handing out these pamphlets
under Articles 164 ("Fanning Social, National, Tribal, Racial or Religious
Enmity") and 337 ("Creating An Illicit Public Association and Participating
in its activities") of the Criminal Code.
In August, the Chief Rabbi of the country
addressed an international religious conference in Brussels, stating that in
his 10 years living in Kazakhstan, he had never faced a single case of
anti-Semitism, and he praised the Government for its proactive protection of
the Jewish community. In July, a visiting rabbi praised the Government for
its efforts to promote religious tolerance and dialogue among Christians,
Jews, and Muslims. On September 7, the Chief Rabbi of Israel arrived in
Astana to attend the opening and dedication of the largest synagogue in
There were several incidents of
desecration of cemeteries, vandalism, and anti-Semitic graffiti. In
September 2003, vandals overturned dozens of tombstones and sprayed
anti-Semitic graffiti on the walls of Riga's New Jewish Cemetery. Government
leaders moved quickly to denounce the vandalism, and Riga city services
cleaned and restored the cemetery within 2 days of the event. Latvian police
arrested five youthful suspects the following week, and the Prosecutor
General's office indicted them in October 2003. The vandals could face up to
8 years in prison.
In October, a nationalist organization
distributed a commemorative envelope bearing the likeness of an aviation
pioneer who also participated in the Holocaust. The Foreign Minister
condemned the activity.
The Latvian National Front (LNF) is an
organization that purports to represent Latvian cultural values. Its
director, Aivars Garda, owns and operates a publishing house that publishes
nationalist historical texts and a sensationalist newspaper and newsletter
called "Deoccupation, Decolonization, Debolshevization" (DDD). The Chief of
the Latvian Security Police has stated that the LNF "borders" on being an
extremist organization, and the Ministry of Social Integration has asked the
Prosecutor General's Office to evaluate whether or not DDD promotes ethnic
hatred. A prominent Jewish businessman alleged this year that the website
published a call to kill four Latvian Jews.
In 2002, the Government created a new
ministry, the Ministry of Social Integration, whose mission is to promote
inter-ethnic tolerance by strengthening civil society and encouraging NGOs
to create and participate in educational programs that bridge ethnic group
boundaries. The ministry was an active voice in political affairs and was a
vocal critic of organizations, like the LNF, that perpetrated anti-Semitic
sentiments. The Ministry, in November, asked the Prosecutor General's Office
to review whether or not the LNF's newsletter "DDD" promotes ethnic hatred
and violates state law.
In October 2002, the country became the first
Baltic state to sign "The Protection and Preservation of Certain Cultural
Properties" agreement that protects and maintains Holocaust sites. The
Government is collaborating with the family of noted American-Latvian Jewish
painter Mark Rothko to renovate a synagogue in the city of Daugavpils, the
town of his birth.
The country has taken many positive steps
toward promoting anti-bias and tolerance education. The Government worked on
a Holocaust curriculum development project that will change Holocaust
education in classrooms, folding the history of the Holocaust into the
country's educational materials. In addition, Ministry of Education
regulations required teaching about the Holocaust in schools. For the past 5
years, high school teachers participated in Holocaust teaching methodology
In April, the police launched an
investigation into the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in the Kaisiadorys
region. They had detained no perpetrators at the end of the period covered
by this report.
The country's Jewish communities expressed
concern over an increase in anti-Semitic remarks made by extremists and a
few mainstream politicians. The political leadership of the country and the
national press generally condemned anti-Semitic statements when they
In April 2003, the Council of Europe (COE)
criticized the Government for not taking action against the anti-Semitic
statements of individuals seeking political office; the publication of
anti-Semitic articles in the media; the distribution of anti-Semitic
proclamations and other materials; acts of vandalism against Jewish graves
and monuments; and anti-Semitic statements during public gatherings. There
were similar occurrences this year; in addition, multiple anonymous
anti-Semitic comments appeared on the Internet.
In February, state institutions received
anonymous anti-Semitic proclamations. The proclamations railed against Jews,
calling them among other things "vampires of the population," an epithet
that the country's Ambassador to Israel, Alfonsas Eidintas, cited in his
book "Jews, Lithuanians, and the Holocaust" as an example of Nazi
propaganda. In response, government representatives publicly condemned
anti-Semitism. Also in February, a popular national daily Respublika carried
a series of editorials with obvious anti-Semitic undertones. The series was
entitled "Who Rules the World?" and the final editorial answered—"the Jews."
A cartoon accompanying the series was reminiscent of Nazi propaganda, and
featured grotesque caricatures of a Jew and a homosexual supporting a large
globe. The editorial blamed Jewish organized crime figures for exploiting
the Holocaust tragedy to avoid punishment for their own criminal activities,
and it focused on the alleged failure of the Jewish Community to
disassociate themselves from such criminals. The main thrust of the article
was that Jews are the wealthiest and most powerful societal group in the
world and control world events. Government officials at the highest levels
condemned the publication of the series and the anti-Semitic sentiments
therein, but the Jewish community and others criticized the Government for
responding too slowly. Local NGOs and representatives of other religious
groups similarly denounced the anti-Semitic articles. The Prosecutor
General's Office and the State Security Department launched pre-trial
investigations of Respublika's editor-in-chief for inciting ethnic and
racial hatred. The case was pending at year's end. In April, the Parliament
formed a working group to draft legislation increasing the penalties for
inciting discord, anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia.
In June 2003, media reports prompted the
State Security Department to investigate the publication of "The Protocols
of the Elders of Zion" in a low-circulation periodical Zemaitijos
Parlamentas, and the publication was discontinued. In December 2003, members
of the National Democratic Party, led by a member of the Siauliai city
council, attempted to prevent the lighting of a menorah during a Hanukkah
celebration and insulted members of the local Jewish community. The Siauliai
mayor publicly apologized for the incident.
The Jewish community has argued that, while
most school textbooks accurately and fairly present the Holocaust, some
perpetuate unfavorable stereotypes of Lithuania's pre-World War II Jewish
community and thereby promote intolerance. Although the Ministry of
Education attempted to ensure the historical accuracy of school textbooks,
the educational system allowed a great deal of leeway for individual
teachers to choose their own texts. Teachers are therefore able to use
textbooks that are not recommended by the Government and that may portray an
unfavorable and outdated view of the country's pre-War Jewish community.
An estimated 10 percent of the population of
the country before World War II was Jewish. More than 200,000 Jewish persons
(approximately 95 percent of that population) were killed in the Holocaust.
The country still was reconciling itself with its past and working to
understand it better. In 1998, President Valdas Adamkus established a
historical commission to investigate both the crimes of the Holocaust and
the subsequent Soviet occupation. The commission has held annual conferences
and several seminars, published several reports, and cosponsored a Holocaust
From January to September, the Prosecutor
General's Office initiated six investigations of genocide cases, war crimes,
and crimes against humanity. These new cases (which brought the total of
such cases initiated since 1990 to approximately 188) included six
investigations of killings in 1941, according to the Simon Wiesenthal
Center. There were 25 such cases, involving 140 to150 individuals, pending
in September. The Government continued to support the International
Commission to Investigate the Crimes of Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes
in Lithuania. The Commission, which includes historians, human rights
representatives, representatives of international Jewish organizations, and
both Lithuanian and foreign lawyers, produced new reports during the
reporting period. The Commission in cooperation with Yad Vashem (the
Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority) and other
organizations continued to implement a program of Holocaust education,
including tolerance development, in the country's schools. The Commission
organized conferences and seminars to promote the development of a tolerant
A March poll indicated that anti-Semitism was
more alarming to residents in large cities, while people living in rural
areas tended not to notice it. Respondents of older generations had a poorer
opinion of Lithuanian-Jewish relations than people aged between 18 and 25
who more often defined relations as good.
The Seimas (Parliament) commemorated
Holocaust Day by publicly acknowledging and apologizing for the killing of
Jews and destruction of Jewish culture in the country during World War II.
The Government and City of Vilnius continued
a program using private funds to rebuild parts of the Jewish quarter in
Vilnius with the understanding that the Jewish community will have use of
some of the space upon completion of the project. In September 2003, the
Government returned 46 Torah scrolls (in addition to 309 such scrolls turned
over in January 2002) to an Israeli spiritual and heritage group for
distribution among Jewish congregations worldwide.
On March 4, several spectators hung
banners with swastikas at a handball match near the city of Bitola. Police
officials present did not confront the individuals responsible for the
banners, and pictures of the policemen standing in front of the banners
appeared in newspapers the following day. Several newspapers published
editorials critical of the police's inaction, and the Ministry of the
Interior later disciplined the officers in question.
In March more than 70 tombstones were
desecrated in the Jewish cemetery in Tiraspol, the principal city of the
breakaway Transnistria region that is not controlled by the Moldovan
authorities. Swastikas and other Nazi symbols were painted on monuments, and
many tombstones were damaged beyond repair. On May 4, unknown persons
attempted to set the Tiraspol synagogue on fire by throwing a Molotov
cocktail onto the premises. The attack failed when passers-by extinguished
the fire. Transnistrian authorities believed the attacks were perpetrated by
the same persons and claimed they were investigating the incidents.
In February 2003, unknown persons destroyed
eight tombstones in a Jewish cemetery in Balti. However, according to a
leading rabbi in Chisinau, it was not clear whether anti-Semitism motivated
The National Expertise Center for
Discrimination, founded in 1998, deals with cases of discrimination that
come under Dutch criminal law and registers all criminal cases in this area.
In the years 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003, the joint prosecutor offices
recorded 214, 198, 242 and 204 discrimination cases respectively, of which
about a quarter concerned cases of anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism, particularly among Muslims,
was linked in many cases to the ongoing conflict between Israel and the
Palestinians. Most anti-Semitic incidents were not violent and included
abusive language, hate mail, verbal insults at soccer matches, Internet
"chat room" discussions, as well as persistent historical revisionism (such
as Holocaust denial). However, pockets of militant young Muslims, mostly
Moroccans, on a number of occasions assaulted or intimidated identifiable
Jews. In addition to the anti-Semitic acts carried out by a relatively small
group of Arab youths, the virulent anti-Israel sentiment among certain
groups in society, such as the Arab European League and the Stop the
Occupation movement, also have contributed to an anti-Semitic atmosphere in
The Center for Information and Documentation
on Israel (CIDI) in its latest report covering the period January 2003 to
May 2004 registered 334 anti-Semitic incidents in 2003, compared to 359 in
2002, the first decrease (7.5 percent) in anti-Semitic incidents since 2000.
In addition, the number of serious incidents (physical violence, threat with
violence, and defacing of cemeteries and synagogues) decreased by 40
percent. Provisional statistics covering the first 4 months of 2004
confirmed this trend. Reportedly, a considerable number of anti-Semitic
offenders were of north-African origin.
Reacting to CIDI reports on increasing
anti-Semitism in recent years, the Parliament requested that the Government
present an action plan to combat anti-Semitism in June 2003. The Government
responded in October 2003 but placed the action plan in the broader context
of its efforts to combat discrimination of all kinds, and it did not propose
new policy specifically designed to combat anti-Semitism. The plan proposed
that parents have primary responsibility for preventing anti-Semitic
incidents; however, schools also could help to combat discrimination and
inculcate respect and tolerance. Public debate and dialogue were other tools
to achieve these goals, and several NGOs launched projects such as Een Ander
Joods Geluid (An Alternative Jewish Viewpoint) to foster debate on equality,
tolerance, and human dignity. Also, the Dutch Coalition for Peace called on
Jews, Palestinians, and other Muslims in the country to work together to
restore peace in the Middle East.
Stricter instructions to prosecutors and the
police took effect in April 2003 to ensure proper attention to incidents of
discrimination. Measures also were taken to deal more effectively with
discrimination on the Internet. The Ministry of Education provided schools
with guidelines to offer instruction on different religions and ideologies
in conjunction with discrimination and intolerance as well as on the
persecution of Jewish persons in World War II. The Ministry of Welfare
subsidized a special program to teach children about World War II and the
persecution of Jewish persons. In particular, the program was designed to
raise awareness about the consequences of prejudice. The Government promoted
dialogue and supported initiatives to create a better understanding between
Jewish persons and Muslims persons.
Members of the Jewish community reported
a doubling of anti-Semitic incidents in the last 2 years. The majority of
the roughly 40 reported incidents in 2003 involved verbal harassment of
primary and secondary school Jewish students by non-Jewish students. A small
number of incidents involved threats against Jewish persons. There were no
reports of anti-Semitic violence or vandalism.
The Government was vigilant in fighting
anti-Semitism and promoting religious tolerance. In April, Prime Minister
Bondevik met with two Norwegian Jewish children who had been harassed on the
basis of their religion. At the conclusion of the meeting, he issued a
strong public statement condemning anti-Semitism and calling on the public
to fight anti-Semitism more actively.
Surveys over the past several years showed a
continuing decline in anti-Semitic sentiment, and avowedly anti-Semitic
candidates have won few elections. However, anti-Semitic feelings persisted
among certain sectors of the population, occasionally resulting in acts of
vandalism and physical or verbal abuse. In prior years, there were reports
of sporadic incidents of harassment and violence against Jews and occasional
desecration of Jewish cemeteries committed by skinheads and other marginal
elements of society.
A credible NGO reported that on October 26 a
Jewish youth from Sweden wearing a skullcap while visiting the Auschwitz
Extermination Camp encountered three young Poles who shouted anti-Semitic
slurs at him. The youth, who reported the incident by e-mail, said that this
was not typical of his entire visit to Poland.
In April, the pastor of St. Brigid Church in
Gdansk told parishioners during services that "Jews killed Jesus and the
prophets" and displayed posters asserting that only Christians could be true
citizens. The Archbishop of Gdansk subsequently removed the priest for this
and other improprieties.
In June, police in Krakow discovered the
desecration of a 19th-century synagogue. Vandals had painted
swastikas and a Star of David hanging from gallows on the Temple Synagogue.
The desecration occurred a few days before the opening of an International
Festival of Jewish Culture in Krakow's Kazimierz district.
In December 2003, a group of Catholics
protested what they considered to be anti-Semitic literature sold in a
bookstore in the basement of a Warsaw church. The group called for church
authorities to close the bookstore, which was run by a private company
renting the basement space, and for state authorities to prosecute the
bookstore owner for hate crimes. The state prosecutor's office examined the
case and found no basis for prosecution. Catholic Church authorities stated
that they could not take action due to the bookstore's lease.
The Government supported the American Jewish
Committee in establishing a $4 million memorial at the site of the Belzec
death camp, where Nazi Germany murdered 500,000 Jews during the Holocaust.
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski took part in the dedication of the
memorial in June.
The Government cooperated with the country's
NGOs and officials of major denominations to promote religious tolerance and
lend support to activities such as the March of the Living, an event to
honor victims of the Holocaust. On April 19, the 13th March of the Living
took place. An estimated 6,000 to 7,000 participants, including
schoolchildren, Boy Scouts, the Polish-Israeli Friendship Society, Polish
survivors of Auschwitz, and the Polish Union of Jewish Students, walked from
the former Auschwitz concentration camp to the former Birkenau death camp.
In June, the Government held a major international conference to unveil its
proposal to open an international center for human rights education in
The Government provided grants to a number of
organizations involved in anti-bias education, including the public-private
Jewish Historical Institute (ZIH) in Warsaw. Many of ZIH's staff were also
government employees. ZIH was the largest depository of Jewish-related
archival documents, books, journals, and museum objects in the country. The
Government also provided grants to the Jewish Historical Association, which
produces educational materials on Jewish culture, the Holocaust and
religious tolerance, and to other NGOs.
The Institute of National Remembrance -
Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (IPN),
created by parliament in 1998, is under the direction of a president who
acts independently of government control and is elected for a 5-year term.
One of the three principal departments of IPN was the Public Education
Office, which produces materials for schools, teachers, and students. The
office also held competitions, sponsored exhibitions on historical themes,
and supported workshops, seminars, and other activities. Educational
materials included a major research and documentation project on "The
Extermination of Jews in Poland" during World War II. This project included
a critical review of attitudes towards the Jewish population during the war,
and instances of collaboration with the Nazis, as well as activities
undertaken by underground organizations and individuals to rescue Jews.
Local governments have also been active in
encouraging tolerance. On December 13, Deputy Mayor of Warsaw Andrzej
Urbanski, together with the Chief Rabbi of Israel and Chief Rabbi of Poland,
participated in the first public lighting of a Menorah in the history of the
Polish capital. Together with Jewish organizations from Poland and abroad,
several towns have contributed to the renovation of Jewish cemeteries. Such
towns include Ozarow Swietokrzyski, Iwaniska, Goldap, Karczew and Wyszkow.
The extremist elements of the press continued
to publish anti-Semitic articles. The Legionnaires (Iron Guard)--an extreme
nationalist, anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi group--continued to republish
inflammatory books from the interwar period. A new Iron Guard monthly,
Obiectiv Legionar (Legionnaire Focus), carrying mostly old legionnaire
literature, began publication in July 2003 and was distributed in several of
the largest cities, including Bucharest. The New Right organization (also
with legionnaire orientation) continued to sponsor marches and religious
services to commemorate Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, the founder of the
Legionnaire Movement. Extremists made repeated attempts to deny that
Holocaust activities occurred in the country or in territory administered by
the country. In March, a private television station broadcast a talk show on
"Gypsies, Jews, and Legionnaires," which voiced xenophobic, anti-Semitic,
and racist views. The station owners did not respond to a protest sent by
the Jewish Communities Federation.
In March, unidentified persons broke into a
synagogue in Bacau and broke its windows. The perpetrators were not
identified, but were believed to be local youths, rather than members of an
organized anti-Semitic movement. In August, Nazi and anti-Semitic signs were
found on the inside of the walls of the Jewish cemetery in Sarmasu, Mures
County. Five Jewish cemeteries were desecrated in 2003, but no perpetrators
were identified in these cases.
On a number of occasions government officials
denied or minimized the occurrence of the Holocaust in the country. In July
2003, in an interview with an Israeli newspaper, President Iliescu appeared
to minimize the Holocaust by claiming that suffering and persecution were
not unique to the Jewish population in Europe. He later said that his
interview had been presented in an incomplete and selective way. In
December, President Iliescu decorated extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM)
leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor with the "Star of Romania," the nation's highest
honor. In addition, President Iliescu decorated Gheorghe Buzatu, PRM Vice
Chairman and an outspoken Holocaust denier, with the prestigious "Faithful
Service" award. This action prompted Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize
Laureate and Chairman of President Iliescu's International Commission on the
Holocaust in Romania, to "resign" from the "National Order of the Star of
Romania," and to vow not to wear the decoration that accompanies the award.
(Wiesel had received his award in 2002.)
Most mainstream politicians criticized
anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia publicly. President Iliescu, Prime
Minister Adrian Nastase, and several members of the cabinet (the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Culture and Religious Denominations, and
others) continued to make public statements on various occasions against
extremism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia and criticized attempts to deny the
occurrence of the Holocaust in the country. Two government-issued decrees
banned fascist, racist, and xenophobic organizations; prohibited the
personality cult of war criminals; and protected Jewish cemeteries and
synagogues. The Government sponsored several seminars and symposiums on
In May, the Government designated October 9
as an annual Holocaust Remembrance Day. On October 9, 1941, the pro-Nazi
government of Marshal Antonescu initiated the deportation of thousands of
victims from Bessarabia and Bukovina to Transnistria. Senior Government
leaders commemorated the first Holocaust Remembrance day by laying wreaths
at a Holocaust memorial in the courtyard of a Bucharest synagogue and by
holding an ecumenical religious service in the Parliament building.
In May 2003, the Government inaugurated a
Holocaust memorial in Targu Mures, a Transylvanian town under Hungarian
administration in World War II.
The Government took several steps to improve
teaching of the Holocaust in teaching materials and textbooks, although
efforts remained limited and inconsistent. In September 2003, the Government
released a teaching manual for schools that dealt with Holocaust denial and
provided figures for the number of Jews killed and details about
concentration camps, death chambers, and the persecution of other groups.
History teachers participated in training courses for the teaching of the
Holocaust in Paris in 2003 and during the reporting period. Over 50 teachers
graduated from the training program at the Holocaust teaching center in
Bacau, which was established with the support of the Ministry of Education
In October 2003, President Iliescu
established the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania to
analyze and to improve public understanding of Holocaust events in the
country. The committee, chaired by Elie Wiesel, presented its findings to
President Iliescu on November 11, 2004. In addition to fully charting the
progression and atrocities of the Romanian Holocaust, the report contained a
list of recommendations for the Romanian Government to ensure that the
Holocaust is accurately remembered by the Romanian people. Among the
commission's recommendations was that the Romanian Government reverse its
rehabilitation of war criminals; open prosecutions for unpunished war
crimes; and enforce 2002 legislation making Holocaust denial in Romania a
An estimated 600,000 to 1 million Jewish
persons lived in the country (0.5 percent of the total population) following
large-scale emigration during the last 2 decades.
Many in the Jewish community stated that
conditions for Jewish persons in the country had improved, primarily because
there was no longer any official "state-sponsored" anti-Semitism; however,
anti-Semitic incidents against individuals and institutions continued to
occur and violence was used during these attacks with increasing frequency.
The Anti-Defamation League reported that while the number of anti-Semitic
incidents remained stable in 2003, the nature of the attacks became more
violent. Anti-Semitic statements were discouraged and have been legally
prosecuted. While the Government publicly denounced nationalist ideology and
supported legal action against acts of anti-Semitism, reluctance on the part
of lower-level officials to call such acts anything other than "hooliganism"
On April 22, eight skinheads stormed the
Ulyanovsk Jewish Center screaming, "don't pollute our land," smashing
windows, and tearing down Jewish symbols as Jewish women and children hid
inside. No one was injured, but police failed to respond quickly, arriving
40 minutes after they were called. A member of the extremist National
Bolshevik Party later was arrested in connection with the attack. The
investigation was ongoing at year's end, but it was suspected that both
events were prompted by the anniversary of Hitler's birthday.
On April 29 in Voronezh, two skinheads
attacked Aleksey Kozlov outside the headquarters of the Inter-Regional Human
Rights Movement of which he is in charge. Kozlov is the regional monitor for
anti-Semitism and racism in the country, a project sponsored by the European
On October 17, a group of skinheads tried to
enter the synagogue in Penza, but were stopped by parishioners. A group of
approximately 40 people armed with chains and iron clubs approached the
synagogue later that day. The parishioners locked themselves inside and
called the police. There were reports that three skinheads were detained.
Unknown persons vandalized Jewish
institutions. On many occasions, vandals desecrated tombstones in cemeteries
dominated by religious and ethnic minorities. These attacks often involved
the painting of swastikas and other racist and ultra-nationalist symbols or
epithets on gravestones. On January 27, an explosion shattered several
windows in a synagogue in Derbent in the southern region of Dagestan.
Vandals attempted to torch a synagogue and library in Chelyabinsk in
February, but neighbors managed to extinguish the fire before the arrival of
firefighters. Local Jewish community representatives suspected a local
anti-Semitic group was responsible for the attack. On March 29, vandals
broke the windows of the only kosher restaurant in St. Petersburg. On April
11, a group of young persons threw bottles at a synagogue in Nizhniy
Novgorod. The police failed to catch the vandals, and the criminal
investigation was dropped on April 22. In September 2003, an anti-Semitic
poster with wires attached to it was found at the Velikiy Novgorod
Synagogue. There were several attacks on a synagogue in Kostroma. A Jew was
injured during an attack in December 2003. Reportedly, teenagers threw
stones at the windows and covered the synagogue fence with anti-Semitic
inscriptions. Local police doubted they would be able to find the vandals,
and a local rabbi said the attack was blamed on hooliganism.
During the reporting period, Jewish
cemeteries were desecrated in Bryansk, Kaluga, Kostroma, Petrozavodsk,
Pyatigorsk, St. Petersburg, Ulyanovsk, and Vyatka. In Petrozavodsk, unknown
persons sprayed anti-Semitic graffiti on tombstones on the day a local court
was to render a decision in another case concerning cemetery desecration. In
February, several Jewish tombs were desecrated in one of the oldest
cemeteries in St. Petersburg; vandals again desecrated Jewish graves there
in December. On March 31, a Jewish cemetery was desecrated in Kaluga and,
after the local Jewish community chairman notified the governor about the
incident, four teenagers and two adults suspected in the vandalism were
detained. On November 25, three of the individuals, including one minor,
were sentenced to two years probation. The other two participants were too
young to be prosecuted. In April, vandals damaged 14 tombstones in
Pyatigorsk's Jewish cemetery. In October 2003, a suspected bomb was found on
a tomb at the Kostroma Jewish cemetery.
Anti-Semitism and xenophobic thought has
become increasingly popular among certain sectors of the population.
Nationalistic parties, such as Rodina and the Liberal Democratic Party of
Russia (LDPR), gained a wider voter base by addressing issues of
nationalism, race, ethnicity, and religion. Allegations of anti-Semitism
were leveled at the Rodina bloc, LDPR, and the Communist Party of the
Russian Federation (KPRF). Anti-Semitic themes figured in some local
election campaigns. There were multiple cases of anti-Semitic statements
from government authorities in some of the country's regions, particularly
in Krasnodar Kray and Kursk Oblast, as well as in the State Duma.
Originally registered with well-known
neo-Nazis on its electoral list, the Rodina bloc attempted to improve its
image by rejecting openly neo-Nazi candidates; however, it allowed others
known for their anti-Semitic views to remain.
Vladimir Zhirinovskiy and his LDPR party also
were known for their anti-Semitic rhetoric and statements. In Moscow during
a May Day celebration, LDPR supporters rallied, carrying anti-Semitic
signs and spoke out against what they called "world Zionism."
The KPRF also made anti-Semitic statements
during the 2003 Duma elections. Krasnodar Kray Senator Nikolai Kondratenko
blamed Zionism and Jews in general for many of the country's problems and
blamed Soviet Jews for helping to destroy the Soviet Union, according to a
November 2003 article in Volgogradskaya Tribuna.
The ultranationalist and anti-Semitic Russian
National Unity (RNE) paramilitary organization continued to propagate
hostility toward Jews and non-Orthodox Christians. The RNE has lost
political influence in some regions since its peak in 1998, but the
organization maintained high levels of activity in other regions, such as
Most anti-Semitic crimes were committed by
groups of young skinheads. The estimated number of skinheads increased from
only a few dozen in 1992 to more than 50,000 in 2004. Typically, skinheads
formed loosely organized groups of 10 to 15 persons, and, while these groups
did not usually belong to any larger organized structure, they tended to
communicate through the hundreds of fascist journals and magazines that
exist throughout the country, and increasingly on the Internet.
Many small, radical-nationalist newspapers
were distributed throughout the country, sometimes containing anti-Semitic,
as well as anti-Muslim and xenophobic leaflets. Anti-Semitic themes
continued to figure in some local publications around the country,
unchallenged by local authorities. For example, an anti-Semitic novel, The
Nameless Beast, by Yevgeny Chebalin, has been on sale in the State Duma's
bookstore since September 2003. The xenophobic and anti-Semitic text makes
offensive statements about Jews and non-ethnic Russians. According to the
Anti-Defamation League, books sold in the Duma were not typically monitored
for content. In cases where Jewish or other public organizations attempted
to take legal action against the publishers, the courts generally were
unwilling to recognize the presence of anti-Semitic content. Some NGOs
claimed that many of these publications are owned or managed by the same
local authorities that refuse to take action against offenders.
The larger anti-Semitic publications were
Russkaya Pravda, Vitaz, and Peresvet, which were available in metro stations
around Moscow. In addition, there were at least 80 Russian Web sites
dedicated to distributing anti-Semitic propaganda; the law does not restrict
Web sites that contain hate speech.
Responses to anti-Semitic violence were
mixed. Authorities often provided strong words of condemnation, but
preferred to label the perpetrators as terrorists or hooligans rather than
xenophobes or anti-Semites. Occasionally, the Government redesignated these
events as criminal acts resulting from ethnic hatred. Human rights observers
noted that considerable legislation prohibits racist propaganda and racially
motivated violence, but complained that it was invoked infrequently. There
were some efforts to counter extremist groups during the year.
Federal officials maintained regular contact
with Jewish community leaders. In March, then Russian Minister for
Nationalities Vladimir Zorin brought extremism to the forefront of public
attention by calling anti-Semitism and xenophobia major threats to the
country. Zorin called for stricter enforcement of the country's existing
statutes outlawing extremism and anti-Semitism and urging tolerance
education programs. In addition, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev became
the first high-ranking official to acknowledge the existence of right-wing
extremist youth groups in the country and noted combating this extremism was
one of the top priority tasks for the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the
Federal Security Service. These statements marked a positive step by the
Government to prosecute those who commit acts of anti-Semitism, although few
concrete steps were taken to solve high-profile cases.
A criminal proceeding was initiated against
Boris Mironov, one of the three co-chairs of the National Sovereign Party of
Russia, who ran for governor in Novosibirsk. The charges were instigation of
national hatred. The major slogan of his election bulletin was "We'll not
allow Jews to take power." Experts found the texts of the bulletin
In December, Igor Kolodezenko, the publisher
of the newspaper Russkiy Sibir, was given a 2½ year suspended
sentence after being convicted of inciting ethnic hatred for publishing
anti-Semitic articles. In June, the Arbitration Court of Sverdlovsk Oblast
ordered the shutdown of a local anti-Semitic paper, Russkaya Obshchina
Yekaterinburga, after the Court found that the newspaper violated the
laws banning incitement of ethnic hatred, according to the Jewish
National-Cultural Autonomy of Sverdlovsk Oblast. The newspaper had received
three warnings from the Ministry of the Press based on complaints from
activists. In 2002, the Prosecutor's office had closed the criminal case.
The court also fined a company that published the newspaper approximately
$34 (1,000 rubles).
In September, a new course "A History of
World Religions" was introduced at some Moscow schools, pursuant to which
some students were taken on field trips to local synagogues and other
religious institutions to increase mutual understanding. The Government
backed away from previous plans to promote a compulsory nationwide course in
schools on the "Foundations of Orthodox Culture," using a textbook by that
title, which detailed Orthodox Christianity's contribution to the country's
culture. Although the book was still used by some schools, the Ministry of
Education has rejected funding for another edition and further circulation
of the textbook. Many religious minorities had complained about negative
language describing non-Orthodox groups, particularly Jewish persons.
In March, prominent rabbis Berl Lazar and
Pinchas Goldschmidt together requested that the Government better define the
meaning of extremism. Lazar and Goldschmidt said that law enforcement was
prone to dismiss anti-Semitic actions as simple hooliganism to avoid calling
attention to the presence of extremists in their region, and to consciously
protect extremist groups with which they sympathized. In October, President
Putin met with Rabbi Lazar and promised that the state would help to revive
Jewish communities in Russia.
Serbia and Montenegro
Since July 2003, according to the Forum
18 News Service, more than 50 acts of vandalism on religious property
occurred. Many of the attacks involved spray-painted graffiti, rock
throwing, or the defacing of tombstones, but a number of cases involved more
extensive damage. There were a number of incidents in which gravestones were
desecrated, including those in Jewish cemeteries.
Jewish leaders in Serbia reported a continued
increase in anti-Semitism on the Internet and the frequent appearance of
anti-Semitic hate speech in small-circulation books. The release of new
books (or reprints of translations of anti-Semitic foreign literature) often
led to an increase in hate mail and other expressions of anti-Semitism.
These sources associated anti-Semitism with anti-Western and
anti-globalization sentiments, as well as ethnic nationalism.
In 2002, Serbian courts began proceedings in
the Savic case, in which an author of anti-Semitic literature was tried for
spreading racial or national hatred through the print media. According to
sources in the Jewish community, a number of continuances have been issued
in this trial. The latest continuance, granted to allow for a psychiatric
examination of the defendant, has been ongoing for more than a year.
Anti-Semitism persisted among some
elements of society and was manifested occasionally in incidences of
violence and vandalism.
In early May, sources within the Ministry of
the Interior reported that skinheads attacked an Israeli citizen at the main
bus station in Bratislava. The man defended himself with a knife and killed
his attacker. The police did not release any information to the public about
the attack. The Government rarely commented on racially motivated crimes.
In October 2003, the Jewish cemetery in Nove
Mesto Nad Vahom was vandalized for the second time, and Jewish leaders
reported finding an anti-Semitic poster on a building formerly owned by
Jews. The police did not identify the vandals who damaged the 19
gravestones. The text of the poster accused Jews of stealing money received
from a government fund for compensation for wartime-confiscated property.
Also in October 2003, three juvenile
offenders vandalized the Puchov cemetery in the western part of the country
causing $1,613 (50,000 Slovak crowns) in damages and ruining 22 gravestones.
The adolescents were given suspended sentences of 4 months to 1 year. Three
other individuals under age 15 were not required to stand trial.
Investigators did not pursue charges of racial motivation that carried
longer sentences because of the lack of physical evidence.
In November 2003, unknown persons desecrated
the cemetery in Humenne in the eastern part of the country. Graffiti in
German on the entrance gate read "Achtung, Jude" (watch out, Jews) with a
swastika below the writing. Swastikas and inscriptions, such as Heil Hitler,
Adolf Hitler, and Mein Kampf, appeared on three graves. The Humenne police
opened a criminal investigation on charges of supporting movements that
suppress the rights of citizens, vandalism, and defamation of peoples,
races, and religion. The Humenne cemetery is a national cultural monument,
and the damage was irreversible in terms of the tombstones' value.
Restoration work in the cemetery had finished just 6 months before the
Jewish community leaders praised the quick
action of the police in cases of vandalism, but perpetrators usually were
minors and received light sentences. The Jewish community successfully
pressed for parents of the vandals to pay damages in the 2002 Banovce
cemetery case and hoped this case could be successfully replicated.
A Slovak Intelligence Service list of persons
allegedly harming the country's interests, which was leaked to the press in
mid 2003, identified three individuals as Jewish. The media and politicians
criticized the practice of categorizing citizens by religious affiliation.
According to estimates, 500 to 800 neo-Nazis
and 3,000 to 5,000 sympathizers operated in the country and committed
serious offenses; however, only a small number of these abuses were
prosecuted. The Penal Code stipulates that anyone who publicly demonstrates
sympathy towards fascism or movements oppressing human rights and freedoms
can be sentenced to jail for up to 3 years. Only a small number of these
abuses were prosecuted due to court delays.
The low number of prosecutions for racially
motivated crime generally improved during the past 2 years due to the
creation of a specialized police unit and an advisor in the Bratislava
Regional Police. Their successes included the arrest of 24 skinheads,
including a major neo-Nazi organizer, at a large meeting in 2003. In another
success, the Bratislava Police checked 158 suspected meeting places of
extremist groups in an overnight raid, which resulted in 14 arrests. Due to
this monitoring unit and its NGO advisory board, the police were better
trained in identifying neo-Nazi members and more informed about their
activities. Interior Minister Vladimir Palko had an advisor on racially
motivated crime, who participated actively on the government's advisory
commission with NGOs. During the reporting period, the Ministry of Interior
assigned specialists on hate crimes to each of the country's eight regions.
Some organizations, such as the official
cultural organization, Matica Slovenska, and the Slovak National Party
continued to seek the rehabilitation of former leaders of the
Nazi-collaborationist State under Josef Tiso. Meetings and demonstrations to
commemorate the anniversary of the first Slovak State from World War II
occurred annually throughout the country. At these and other events,
extremists frequently appeared in the uniforms of the Hlinka guards, who
identified and sent Jewish persons to the concentration camps during World
The Jewish community continued to protest the
failure of the courts to resolve a lawsuit against Martin Savel, a former
editor of the publishing house Agres. Savel published anti-Semitic
literature and the anti-Jewish magazine Voice of Slovakia in the early
Public cooperation was integral to the
reconstruction of a Jewish cemetery in Bratislava, which involved rerouting
tram tracks. The site, including the grave of 19th-century Jewish scholar R.
Moshe Schreiber (the Chatam Sofer), was restored in 2001 with substantial
financing from the Bratislava Local Council as well as from a foreign
organization, the International Committee for the Preservation of the
Gravesites of Geonai in Pressburg.
The Government promoted interfaith dialogue
and understanding by supporting events organized by various religious
groups. The Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities was invited to,
and participated in the activities. The Government approved an extension of
its action plan to fight all forms of discrimination, racism, xenophobia,
anti-Semitism and other expressions of Intolerance for the years 2004-2005.
The prior plan supported training for police officers, penitentiary workers,
and teachers and also included public awareness campaigns.
The Ministry of Education and the Institute
of Judaism conducted a joint educational project on Jewish history and
culture targeted to elementary and high school teachers of history, civic
education, and ethics to educate the public about Jewish themes and increase
tolerance toward minorities. The project continued to be very successful and
well received. Since 2002, several teachers participated in summer training
programs abroad. Groups of teachers visited former concentration camps for
training in Holocaust education. To assist teachers with instruction about
the Holocaust, the Ministry of Education published and distributed a
textbook to four teacher-training centers. In 2003, a Holocaust Center was
established as a joint project of the Bratislava Jewish community and the
Milan Simecka Foundation. It released several publications dealing with the
Holocaust in the country, Jewish wartime history, and memoirs of Jewish
In May, the Director of the Union of Jewish
Religious Communities (UZZNO) criticized the state-run Slovak Television
(STV) for canceling a documentary film about the country during wartime. The
documentary chronicled a Jewish pogrom in the town of Topolcany and included
an anti-Semitic statement from a local citizen. UZZNO believed societal
attitudes should be discussed openly and addressed by the Government. STV
management defended its decision pointing to possible liability issues
relating to the Broadcasting and Retransmission Act. The station eventually
aired the documentary and a panel discussion on anti-Semitism and the
The NGO People Against Racism and the
Ministry of Interior monitored websites on the Internet that contained hate
speech and provided information about skinheads. Foreign servers hosted many
of these Web sites.
The Jewish community had 140 official
members and approximately 300-400 people who informally self-identified as
In early October, there was one incident
involving the desecration of a Jewish family grave.
Jewish community representatives reported
widespread prejudice, ignorance, and false stereotypes being spread within
society. Reportedly, negative images of Jews were common in private
commentary and citizens generally did not consider Jews to be a native
population, despite their uninterrupted presence in the country for many
centuries. While prejudice existed beneath the surface, there were no
reports of overt verbal or physical harassment.
The Government promoted anti-bias and
tolerance education through its programs in primary and secondary schools,
with the Holocaust as an obligatory topic in the contemporary history
curriculum. However, teachers had a great deal of latitude in deciding how
much time to devote to it. The country formally established May 9 as
Holocaust Memorial Day. Schools commemorated the day by showing
documentaries, assigning essay topics, and holding discussions on the
The Jewish community reported incidents
of verbal harassment, vandalism of synagogues and Jewish community
institutions, and increasing anti-Semitic sentiment in newspaper commentary
and at sporting events. Local officials were accused of sharing anti-Jewish
views. Members of the Jewish community have said that they fear identifying
themselves or wearing their traditional Kippa because it could make them a
target for attacks. There were reports of vandalism to Jewish community
institutions in Toledo, Melilla, and Barcelona, where incidents of
harassment also occurred. Jewish groups also reported that local extremist
groups monitored them. The regional government responded by increasing
security at the center.
In Barcelona, an official of the Barcelona
Israeli Community (CIB) said a grandfather and son and some Jewish
worshippers were verbally attacked as they left a cultural activity in March
In March, two Jewish synagogues in Barcelona
belonging to the Jewish Community of Barcelona and the ATID Jewish Community
were vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti on the walls of the synagogue.
In June, a plaque honoring victims of the
Holocaust in the Montjuic Cemetery in Barcelona was vandalized for the
fourth time since 2002. The Barcelona City Council paid for part of the
restoration. In October, a group of individuals painted anti-Semitic slogans
in German on the walls of the ATID community center and the Sefardi School.
After the June and October incidents, the Catalan Government temporarily
provided additional security for the community center and the school. The
president of the CIB stated that attacks represented a threat not only to
the Jewish community in Barcelona, but also to society in general.
During the week of August 9, on a Jewish holy
day, local youth attacked a synagogue in Melilla with stones as worshippers
celebrated the Prayer of Shabaat. No arrests were made in the incident.
Officials from B'nai B'rith suggested there
was an increasing anti-Semitic tone in newspaper commentary and political
cartoons as well as public displays of anti-Semitism at major sporting
events. They cited the example of a soccer game held in Madrid following the
March 11 train bombings. Some participants at the game wore swastikas and
other Nazi emblems and displayed a banner with an anti-Semitic epithet.
Jewish officials in Catalonia reported that
local officials were insensitive to anti-Jewish sentiment and expressed the
view that anti-Semitism was openly present in government institutions. One
example was the placement of a Star of David side-by-side with a swastika on
a City Hall Web page. Jewish representatives in Barcelona approached local
government officials requesting the symbol be removed. City officials
removed the symbols without explanation and did not apologize for the
In November, the mayor of Oleiros, La Coruna
approved public signs that described the Israeli Prime Minister as an
"animal" and labeled members of his government "neo-Nazis." Foreign Minister
Miguel Angel Moratinos responded to the incident by issuing a strong
statement calling on the mayor to remove the signs. Facing intense pressure
from national and local government officials and extensive criticism in the
national press, the mayor agreed to remove the signs.
In March, the Spanish Ministries of Justice
and Education met with representatives of a B'nai B'rith to discuss how to
revise inaccurate historical references on Jewish history and other
materials related to the Jewish religion in textbooks. They made a general
nonbinding agreement that textbook editors would consult with religious
groups before publishing material, including those that refer to Jewish
religion or history.
On May 27, Catalan police arrested three
leaders of a neo-Nazi group called the Circle of Indo-European Research on
charges of being members of an illicit association that opposes the
fundamental rights and public freedom of citizens within the international
community. The police and Jewish community leaders believed the Circle
leaders were involved in synagogue attacks in March. One of the group
leaders was charged with illicit association, one was released on bail, and
a third case was still pending.
On October 15, partly in response to attacks
against Jewish persons and institutions, the Council of Ministers approved a
proposal from the Ministry of Justice called the Foundation for Pluralism
and Coexistence. The Foundation provided approximately $4 million (3 million
euro) in public funding to contribute to cultural, educational, and social
integration programs and projects of all non-Catholic confessions (Muslim,
Jewish, and Evangelical) that had a Cooperation Agreement with the country
and were not directly related with religious practices.
The Law of Religious Freedom provided for
religious freedom and the freedom of worship by individuals and groups, and
the Government generally enforced this law in practice.
The Catalonia Government provided public
funds to renovate traditional Jewish centers of learning and culture. In
Girona, Catalonia, city officials funded the renovation of the birthplace of
a prominent Jewish intellectual, Bonastruc ca Porta, who was born there in
the twelfth century. Jewish communities welcomed the city's efforts to
renovate traditional Jewish quarters in Girona, which they considered to be
the birthplace of Jewish intellectual heritage in the country.
In December, the country designated January
27 as Holocaust Remembrance Day. Also in December, the OSCE Ministerial
meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria welcomed Spain's offer to host a third conference
on anti-Semitism and other tolerance issues in June 2005 in Cordoba.
According to police statistics, the
number of reported anti-Semitic hate crimes has increased since the end of
the 1990s, averaging approximately 130 annually during the period 2000 to
2003. During 2003, 128 crimes were reported; of these 3 were classified as
assaults, 52 as agitation against an ethnic group, and 35 as unlawful
threat/harassment. There was a growing awareness of that there were
particular problems with anti-Semitism among certain immigrant populations.
Some members of the Jewish community believed
that increases in attacks were linked directly to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict and increased tensions in the Middle East. Since the beginning of
the second intifada in 2000, the Jewish community felt increasingly
threatened by Islamic and leftist extremists. There were a number of high
profile incidents in Malmo in the past years. In March, four young people of
Arab origin broke into a Jewish-owned shop in Malmo, shouting anti-Semitic
epithets and threats, and attacked the shop owner and another Jewish person.
The shop owner was sent to the hospital for treatment. Two weeks earlier,
Muslims had thrown stones at employees of the Jewish Burial Society at the
Jewish cemetery in Malmo. In June, a football match ended with Jewish
players being attacked by Muslim Somali players. In April 2003, there was an
attempted arson at the purification room of the Jewish cemetery.
On March 26, an NGO reported that two members
of Hizb ut-Tahrir handed out leaflets near a mosque in Stockholm that urged
the liquidation of Jews in Palestine. The Imam of the mosque subsequently
denounced violence against Jews.
On April 15, a credible NGO reported that a
swastika appeared near the Jewish community building in Gothenburg and an
empty cartridge was found nearby. The police investigation continued at
year's end. During the night of April 17, the same NGO also reported that 17
gravestones were broken in the Jewish cemetery in Stockholm.
During the past few years, the Government
took steps to combat anti-Semitism by increasing awareness of Nazi crimes
and the Holocaust. Following a 1998 public opinion poll that showed a low
percentage of schoolchildren had even basic knowledge about the Holocaust,
the Government launched nationwide Holocaust education projects.
Approximately one million copies of the education project's core textbook
were in circulation and available in many languages at no cost to every
household with children.
The Swiss Observatory of Religions based
in Lausanne believed that anti-Semitic feelings increased during the last
decade. Although physical violence was rare, most anti-Semitic remarks were
fueled by extensive media reports over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and
the Holocaust Assets issue.
There were few anti-Semitic incidents and,
with one exception, they were of a purely verbal nature that resulted in no
physical harm to any member of the Jewish community or any damage to Jewish
property. The only act of physical violence against Jewish property during
the reporting period occurred over the weekend of February 14 to15 in
Geneva. Unknown vandals entered the joint premises of a Jewish kindergarten
and a sports association, smashing windows and furniture, stealing computer
equipment, and spray-painting anti-Semitic graffiti on the entrance door.
A study released by the Zurich University on
March 26 found no evidence of anti-Semitism in the country's German-language
media but noted that newspapers and electronic media often resorted to
questionable stereotypes. The few journalists who engaged in anti-Semitic
rhetoric later apologized. Nevertheless, other xenophobic and revisionist
publications existed, sometimes using Internet websites abroad to avoid
On April 26, the Zurich lawyer and honorary
chairman of the Jewish religious community, Sigi Feigel, sued the political
party Europa Partei Schweiz, claiming that it sponsored newspaper
advertisements comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. The party, which was not
represented in Parliament, ran advertisements in the daily Tages-Anzeiger
the day after the killing of Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi calling on the
country to cut off diplomatic relations and end military cooperation with
Israel. The advertisements referred to "Israel, nation of the Jews" and
stated, "with the exception of the gas chambers, all the Nazi instruments
are being used against (Israel's) resident population." The party was
charged under antiracism laws.
The Penal Code criminalizes racist or
anti-Semitic expression, whether in public speech or in printed material.
At an April conference sponsored by the OSCE
on anti-Semitism in Berlin, Franz von Daniken, State Secretary for Foreign
Affairs, highlighted the various ways the country was confronting
anti-Semitism. He condemned all forms of racism and anti-Semitism and fully
endorsed the OSCE measures to promote tolerance and nondiscrimination.
To counter anti-Semitism and racism, in 2002
the Federal Department of the Interior established a Federal Service for the
Combating of Racism to coordinate antiracism activities of the Federal
Administration with cantonal and communal authorities. The Federal Service
had a budget of $11.1 million (15 million Swiss francs) to use over a 5-year
period. Of this money, $370,000 (500,000 Swiss francs) per year was reserved
for the establishment of new local consultation centers where victims of
racial or religious discrimination may seek assistance. Approximately 130 of
these consultation centers or contact points already exist in the country.
In addition, the Federal Service for the Combating of Racism sponsored and
managed a variety of projects to combat racism, including some projects
specifically addressing anti-Semitism.
On January 27, schools across the country
held a day of remembrance for victims of the Holocaust. Education
authorities said the aim was to remember the Holocaust and other forms of
genocide committed in the past century and raise awareness of inhumane
In March, two bombers attacked an
Istanbul Masonic Lodge, killing 2 persons and injuring seven others.
Evidence gathered in the subsequent investigation suggested that
anti-Semitism was at least a partial motivating factor in the attack.
According to press reports, one of the suspects later arrested also
confessed to the August 2003 killing of a Jewish dentist in Istanbul.
Reports also suggested that the perpetrator used his victim's address book
and subsequently telephoned a number of Jewish board members of an Istanbul
retirement home and threatened them with violence.
In November, simultaneous suicide attacks
against two of Istanbul's major synagogues killed 23 persons and injured
more than 300 others, including many passersby. The trial for those charged
with perpetrating these bombings resumed briefly in November for final
introductory statements; the next court session is scheduled for 2005. The
Government condemned the bombings and provided assistance to victims and
In an incident that arose out of the
bombings, the 17-year-old son of one of the alleged perpetrators of the
synagogue attacks and three journalists were convicted of anti-Semitism and
could face up to 3 years in jail. The youth said in an interview with the
daily Milliyet: "The attacks did not touch the hearts of the members
of my family because the target was Jews. We couldn't be happy, but we were
satisfied. If Muslims hadn't been killed we would have been happy. We don't
like Jews." The journalist and the editors of the newspaper were convicted
of providing a platform for incitement against members of another religion.
This was the first time in history that citizens were convicted of
Several Islamist newspapers regularly
published anti-Semitic material. Columnists in other mainstream papers
sometimes indulged in remarks with an anti-Semitic tone.
There were acts of anti-Semitism during
the reporting period. For example, on July 21 the media reported that the
main opposition bloc in Parliament, Our Ukraine, expelled Oleh Tyahnybok, a
Member of Parliament who made an anti-Semitic speech during a campaign rally
in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast.
On August 24, three men attacked two rabbis
in central Odessa. Police captured one of the alleged perpetrators, who,
while being interrogated, told police that he wanted to kill Jews. As of
September, police were still searching for the other assailants.
In April, Jewish community activists
discovered that vandals were removing gold from the mass graves of Jews
killed by Nazis at the Sosonky memorial in Rivne. However, according to the
head of the Rivne Oblast Jewish Council, the municipal authorities took
prompt action to restore the vandalized memorial.
On May 23, vandals destroyed several dozen
tombstones at Jewish and Christian burial sites at the Kurenivske Cemetery
in Kiev. Police were continuing to investigate these incidents at year's
On August 8, the media reported that 26
gravestones were vandalized in the Jewish section of the Donetske More
graveyard in Donetsk Oblast and that police had caught the perpetrator. On
August 20, it was reported that 15 more gravestones in the same cemetery
were vandalized. The number "666" had been spray-painted on some of the
overturned gravestones. Local police were still searching for the
Anti-Semitic articles appeared frequently in
small publications and irregular newsletters, although such articles rarely
appeared in the national press. The monthly journal Personnel, whose
editorial board included several parliamentary deputies, generally published
one anti-Semitic article each month. The Jewish community received support
from public officials in criticizing articles in the journal. On April 20,
the State Committee for Nationalities and Migration filed a lawsuit with the
Kiev Economic Court to stop publication of Personnel journal and
Personnel-Plus newspaper for violation of the Law on Information and the Law
on Print Mass Media. On March 12, the State Committee for Nationalities and
Migration also filed a lawsuit against Idealist newspaper for publication of
On January 28, a local court in Kiev ruled
that publication of the newspaper Silski Visti be suspended for fomenting
interethnic hatred in connection with the 2002 publication of an article by
Professor Vasyl Yaremenko entitled "Myth about Ukrainian Anti-Semitism," and
a September 2003 article, "Jews in Ukraine: Reality without Myths." Silski
Visti viewed the court decision as a government attempt to close the major
opposition newspaper (circulation 515,000) prior to the October presidential
elections and appealed the ruling. At year's end, Silski Visti's appeal
remained under review.
A dispute between nationalists and Jews over
the erection of crosses in Jewish cemeteries in Sambir and Kiev remained
unresolved, despite mediation efforts by Jewish and Greek Catholic leaders.
A local court ordered a halt in the
construction of an apartment building at the site of an old Jewish cemetery
in Volodymyr-Volynsky. However, apartment construction was completed during
2003 and most of the units were occupied. Local Jewish groups complained
that the State Committee on Religious Affairs continued to refuse to help
resolve this dispute.
A large number of high-level government
officials continued to take part in the annual September commemoration of
the massacre at Babyn Yar in Kiev, the site of one of the most serious
crimes of the Holocaust directed against Jews and thousands of individuals
from other minority groups. Discussions continued among various Jewish
community members about erecting an appropriate memorial, and possibly a
heritage center, to commemorate the victims. The Government was generally
supportive of these initiatives.
Anti-Semitic incidents included physical
attacks, harassment, desecration of property, vandalism and hateful speech,
and racist letters and publications. The Community Security Trust, an
organization that analyzed threats to the Jewish community and coordinated
with police to provide protection to Jewish community institutions, recorded
511 anti-Semitic incidents between July 2003 and June 2004.
On June 25, near Manchester, a group of five
persons physically assaulted a rabbi while shouting anti-Semitic statements.
In October 2003, a man driving past Borhamwood Synagogue shouted
anti-Semitic statements at members of the synagogue's security team.
The media also reported instances of
desecration of synagogues, Jewish cemeteries, and religious texts. On June
17, vandals caused a fire in the South Tottenham United Synagogue that
resulted in the destruction of Jewish prayer books smuggled out of Central
Europe before World War II. On June 18, in an apparently unrelated incident,
a suspicious fire damaged a synagogue and Jewish educational center in
Hendon. On August 22, cemetery officials discovered the desecration of
approximately 60 gravestones in a Jewish cemetery in Birmingham. Police
charged two suspects with racially aggravated criminal damage, racially
aggravated public disorder, and causing racially aggravated harassment,
alarm, or distress. In November, vandals spray-painted swastikas and other
Nazi symbols on 15 gravestones in a Jewish cemetery in Aldershot.
Nazi slogans and swastikas were painted on 11
Jewish gravestones at a Southampton cemetery in July 2003, and 20 Jewish
gravestones were damaged at Rainsough cemetery in Manchester in August 2003.
Police investigated the attacks as a racist incident. In November 2003,
vandals desecrated 21 graves at a Jewish cemetery in Chatham, East Kent.
Later in November, a deliberately set fire caused severe damage to the
Hillock Hebrew Congregation near Manchester, and, in a separate incident,
attackers used bricks to smash the windows of London's Orthodox Edgware
Members of some far-right political
parties--such as the BNP, the National Front, and the White Nationalist
Party--and some extremist Muslim organizations, such as Al-Muhajiroun,
occasionally gave speeches or distributed literature expressing anti-Semitic
beliefs, including denials that the Holocaust occurred.
The Crown Prosecution Service advised victims
of anti-Semitic attacks on how to report the incidents and press charges
against the assailants. Police services investigated anti-Semitic attacks,
in addition to providing additional protection to Jewish community events
where threat levels were considered to be elevated. The Anti-terrorism,
Crime and Security Act of 2001 made it a crime to commit a religiously
aggravated offense such as assault, criminal damage, or harassment. The Act
also extended the prohibition against incitement to racial hatred to include
cases where the hatred was directed at groups located outside the country.
In addition, a 2003 regulation explicitly prohibiting racial harassment and
a 1980 case law establishing Jews as a racial group provide legal protection
against anti-Semitism. Authorities charged 18 persons with religiously
aggravated offenses (the religious affiliation of the victims was not
released) between December 2001 and March 2003, the most recent period for
which data are available; of these, 8 were convicted.
In December 2003, new employment equality
regulations regarding religion (or other belief) entered into force. The
regulations prohibit employment discrimination based on religious belief,
except where there is a "genuine occupational requirement" of a religious
On October 19, police charged Abu Hamza
al-Masri with four counts of soliciting or encouraging the killing of Jewish
persons based on recordings of some of his addresses to public meetings.
Officials regularly reiterated the
government's commitment to addressing anti-Semitism and protecting Jewish
citizens through law enforcement and education. In February, Queen Elizabeth
II awarded Nazi war crimes investigator Simon Wiesenthal an honorary
knighthood in recognition of his efforts to counter anti-Semitism.
The Home Office's Faith Communities Unit
ensured that members of all faiths enjoyed the same life opportunities. The
unit also sponsored projects that encourage dialogue and cooperation between
the different faith communities represented in the country. The Home Office
also was responsible for an annual Holocaust Memorial Day.
All publicly maintained schools were required
to teach religious tolerance. On October 28, Education and Skills Secretary
Charles Clarke introduced a new national framework for schools to deliver
religious education that, among other things, teach pupils about others'
Anti-Semitic fliers signed by Hizb ut-Tahrir
have been distributed throughout the country; however, these views were not
representative of the feelings of the vast majority of the population.
Jews generally are able to practice their
religion in Uzbekistan, and there were no reports of verbal harassment,
physical abuse, or desecration of monuments or cemeteries related to
anti-Semitism. Respected Jewish community members report they feel very
welcome in the country.
The Government of Uzbekistan promotes
anti-bias and tolerance education in its eleventh grade history textbooks.
The standardized textbook teaches students about the horrors of the
Holocaust, the Nazis' anti-Semitic policy, extermination camps, and the
number of Jews killed. In addition, Jewish organizations regularly conduct
seminars on Holocaust and anti-Semitism awareness.
Anti-Semitism in the Near East and North Africa Region