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Report: Anti-Zionism Integral to European Left-Wing Thought

Anti-Israel activities seen as a stand-in for anti-Semitism

Desecrated Jewish cemetery in France / AP
• February 19, 2014 2:59 pm

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Anti-Zionism is an "integral part" of left-wing ideology in Europe and serves as a replacement for anti-Semitism, according to a report on global anti-Semitic trends in 2013 released by Israel’s Information and Diaspora Ministry in January.

"The anti-Zionism prevalent mainly on the left, which has already become an integral part of the permanent worldview of individuals and groups of the left, can today be defined as a cultural code replacing anti-Semitism and enabling its disseminators to deny all connection to anti-Semitism," said the report.

The ministry said anti-Zionism has become a major component of anti-Semitic expressions in Western Europe.

While the report said anti-Zionism in Eastern Europe remains a "minor component in public discourse," in Western Europe it "represents a significant component of anti-Semitic manifestations and discourse."

The report noted that this is especially prevalent in Russia and Ukraine, where there is a "prominent trend of the anti-Semitic propaganda, expressions of people in power and the media, and attacks against Jewish sites, being part of the lives of the local communities without the discussions usual in the West regarding the status of Israel and its actions."

The paper drew heavily on a recent poll by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), which found that 76 percent of European Jews said that anti-Semitism has grown worse over the past five years and over one-third said they avoid wearing identifying symbols of Judaism in public, such as a yarmulke or Star of David.

The report also criticized the FRA for removing the working definition of anti-Semitism that had been used since 2005 from its website, which had included hostility toward Israel and comparisons between the Israeli government and the Nazi regime.

"It would appear that there is no connection between the removal of the definition and the anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli fervor that is intensifying in parallel to a worsening of expressions of anti-Semitism," wrote the ministry. "Nevertheless, as evident from the survey, Jews in Europe feel now more than ever, subject to attacks both of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist in nature."

Israeli leaders have emphasized the connection between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in recent days. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement "classical anti-Semites in modern garb" during a speech to U.S. Jewish leaders on Monday.

The Israeli prime minister also criticized reported efforts to boycott Israel in Europe.

"It's an absolute disgrace that there are people in Europe calling for a boycott of Jews," said Netanyahu.

Anti-Israel boycotts have been in the news in the United States as a result of the American Studies Association moving to cut off interaction with Israeli universities and academics late last year.

A recent bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would withhold federal funds from any institution that participates in a boycott of Israel, the Washington Free Beacon first reported earlier this month.

"This bipartisan legislation seeks to preserve academic freedom and combat bigotry by shielding Israel from unjust boycotts," Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) told the Free Beacon. "It is ludicrous for critics to go after our democratic friend and ally Israel when they should be focusing on the evils perpetrated by repressive, authoritarian regimes like Iran and North Korea"