Data and Deception: Quantitative Evidence of Antisemitism

This text was first published as chapter 2 in Part Three of Antisemitism Real and Imagined. Its pagination in the original is indicated by numbers in square brackets inserted into the text.


Antisemitism Real and Imagined (2010), Part 3, Chapter 2


What the CPCCA already knows

The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism explained on its website, set up during the summer of 2009, that Canada needs a Parliamentary Inquiry because “The extent and severity of antisemitism is widely regarded as at its worst level since the end of the Second World War,” and because “Antisemitism is being manifested in a manner which has never been dealt with before.”1

As I noted in the introduction to this book, the CPCCA’s declarations identify this “new antisemitism” as being primarily a matter of attitudes towards the state of Israel:

Antisemitism is an age-old phenomenon, yet is always re-invented and manifested in different ways. For example, while accusations of blood libel are still being made against the Jewish people, instead they are being directed against the State of Israel, such that anti-Zionism is being used as a cover for antisemitism.

This problem is especially prevalent on campuses where Jewish students are ridiculed and intimidated for any deemed support for the “Nazi” and “apartheid” State of Israel, which is claimed to have no right to exist.

The problem is also exemplified by individuals and governments who call for the destruction of the State of Israel and its inhabitants.2

Elsewhere on the CPCCA website, the same message is reiterated:

[166] […] recorded incidents of antisemitism have been on the rise internationally. Furthermore, the problem is now being manifested in ways never experienced before. While accusations of blood libel or petty vandalism are still issues for the Jewish community, new fears have arisen especially for those who support the State of Israel. For example, on some university campuses, Jewish students are being threatened and intimidated to the point that they are not able to express pro-Israel sentiments freely, or are even fearful to wear a Jewish skull cap or Jewish star of David around their necks.3

Canadians may find themselves bemused by these assertions. Do we have, in any significant number, compatriots who call for the state of Israel to be destroyed and its people killed; and is the blood libel actually being circulated in our country? Are things really that bad in our universities? Has antisemitism truly returned to a level unmatched since Canadian soldiers helped put the Nazis out of business in 1945—in other words, since the time of the Holocaust?

Is there, in fact, evidence to support any of these claims? Or must we recognize something topsy-turvy about an Inquiry that announces inflammatory conclusions before carrying out research, receiving written submissions, or hearing oral testimony?

The CPCCA’s wording is at times distinctly peculiar. The blood libel—the accusation that Jews are ritually slaughtering young Christians—was used from the late Middle Ages onward to incite howling mobs against Jews, and even within living memory has been a means of instigating murderous violence in some parts of the world. Conjoining the blood libel with “petty vandalism” seems on a level with declaring that one finds two sorts of people distinctly irritating: pogrom instigators and purse-snatchers.4

Odder still is the notion that the blood libel is in any reasonable sense an issue for Canada’s Jewish community. This disgusting calumny has been resuscitated within the Muslim world on some recent occasions—one of these being a 2003 Syrian television series, Al Shatat (The Diaspora), which is mentioned in the 2006 UK Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism (paragraphs 95, 99).5 But it would be a stretch to think that the CPCCA wants us to believe that this far-off instance of the blood libel could be of serious relevance to contemporary Canada.

As I mentioned in my introductory chapter, there has in fact been one notable recent instance of the blood libel being circulated in Canada. At a “pseudo-academic conference” held in Ukraine’s capital Kiev in late November 2009, it was bizarrely claimed that 25,000 Ukrainian children had been imported by Israel for organ harvesting. This was noted in an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, repeated from that source by Iran’s Press TV (with a malicious endorsement of the charge), and in that version simple-mindedly reprinted by alAmeen Post, a Muslim community newspaper in British [167] Columbia. When B’nai Brith objected to the scandalous fakery, alAmeen Post promptly withdrew the piece, and a few days later apologized profusely for its own “lack of judgment” in reproducing falsehoods from a source it now recognized as “unreliable.”6 This is not a case, then, of an impending return of the Black Hundreds,7 but rather one in which a moronic accusation, thoughtlessly imported, was quickly detected, withdrawn, and apologized for.

The timing of the CPCCA’s claims may also seem more than a little suspect. Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and one of the CPCCA’s key organizers, has been front and centre during the past year in what has been variously described as the Harper government’s “courting” and “blatant wooing” of Jewish voters. His actions in barring the British MP George Galloway from entering Canada, and in de-funding the Canadian Arab Federation, KAIROS, and probably also UNRWA, have already been noted. In mid-November 2009, the Conservative government blanketed ridings which have large Jewish communities, including Liberal MP Irwin Cotler’s Montréal riding of Mount Royal, with free-mail leaflets representing the Liberal Party as being antisemitic, soft on terrorism, and insufficiently supportive of Israel—and posing the question (next to an image of Stephen Harper with a Cheshire-Cat grin): “Who is on the right track to represent and defend the values of Canada’s Jewish community?” When the opposition parties reacted with outrage, the minister who defended this grotesque attack-ad tactic, with insolent declarations that the leaflets were merely factual, was none other than Jason Kenney.8

The leaflets and the CPCCA’s statements both propose that Canada’s Jews urgently need protection from antisemitism. However, as Gerald Caplan indicated in his comments on those leaflets in The Globe and Mail, some Canadian Jews don’t share this concern:

As for my government standing on guard for me, I’d be more grateful if I knew from whom I actually needed to be protected. By any conceivable standard, we Canadian Jews are surely among the most privileged, most secure, most successful, most influential minorities in Canada and indeed in the entire world. We don’t have a powerful Christian right-wing that is openly prejudiced, as in the United States, and the anti-Semitic incidents that do occasionally happen, while deplorable, are almost invariably caused by kids, crackpot white supremacists or marginalized thugs.

The B’nai Brith annually publishes the number of anti-Semitic incidents that are reported to it, but these reports are never checked out or confirmed. And whatever these numbers, the vast majority of Canadian Jews know perfectly well that they now live their entire lives completely untouched by anti-Semitism. Indeed, perhaps the most politically correct stand in Canada today is the race by political and community leaders to immediately denounce even the slightest hint [168] of anti-Semitism, however unproved or trivial. You could say they compete to see who will win the anti-anti-Semitic championship.9

Is Caplan perhaps correct in his dismissal of what the CPCCA tells us is an urgent threat? Murray Dobbin, responding directly to the CPCCA, remarks that a 2009 poll conducted by Abraham Foxman’s Anti-Defamation League, “whose mandate is to monitor and expose anti-semitism,” found the level of antisemitic attitudes in the United States (which Canadian attitudes tend to resemble closely) “matched that of 1998 as the lowest in the 45-year history of the poll.”10 Dobbin also refers us to Joanne Naiman’s observation (in an article reprinted in this book) that Canadian government statistics published in 2004 and 2009 show a decline in hate crimes against Jews since 2001-2002.11

Someone, it would appear, is not telling us the truth.


The UK Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism

Is there actual evidence of an international resurgence in antisemitism? One obvious place to initiate a search for it would be the 2006 U.K. Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism (September 2006),12 which as I observed in my introductory chapter was described by the “London Declaration” of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism as a model to be followed in similar inquiries by national parliamentary coalitions like the CPCCA.

The U.K. Report’s quantitative data comes for the most part from the Community Security Trust (CST), a charitable organization, comparable to the American Anti-Defamation League, “which provides security and defence services and advice to the Jewish community” (Report, 29) and since 1984 has kept records of antisemitic incidents in Britain.

The CST’s figures show an average of about 180 such incidents per year from 1984 to 1989, rising between 1990 and 1992 to an average of about 275 incidents, and in 1993-94 to a higher plateau of about 330 incidents. The number of incidents then declined between 1995 and 1999 to about 250 per year. In 2000, it rose abruptly to 405, and after three years at lower levels (310 in 2001, 350 in 2002, and 375 in 2003), spiked in 2004 to 532 incidents. From this high point it declined in 2005 (the last year mentioned in the Report) to 459 incidents.13

To the figures provided by the Parliamentary Inquiry’s Report, we can add data from the CST’s more recent annual Antisemitic Incident Reports. In 2006, the number of incidents recorded by the CST rose to 598, a peak from which it declined in 2007 to 561 incidents, and in 2008 to 541.14 In 2009, the number of antisemitic incidents soared to 924. By the CST’s analysis, by far the greater part of this increase was in reaction to the conflict in Gaza: after the first three months of 2009, the frequency of incidents declined to monthly numbers just 7 percent above the “baseline level” of 2008.15

[169] It should be noted that the incidents recorded in these reports range in intensity and seriousness from antisemitic slurs, slanders, and graffiti to acts of vandalism, desecrations of synagogues and cemeteries, and assaults, some of them involving not just threats of violence, but actual attacks. The CST’s 2005 figures include 84 instances of assault, two of them of murderous intensity (Report, 61-62), and 48 incidents involving Jewish property or community buildings, among them several large-scale desecrations of Jewish cemeteries in Prestwich, East London and Aldershot (Report, 65-66). In 2007 the number of assaults rose to 117; in 2008 it declined again to 88.16

There is a clear linkage, acknowledged by police, government and academic sources, between spikes in antisemitic incidents in Britain and what the CST and the Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism call “trigger events” in the state of Israel’s relations with the Palestinians of the territories Israel has occupied since 1967, and with neighbouring countries like Lebanon.

These events include the second Intifada, set off in 2000 by Ariel Sharon’s provocative intrusion, with a large military force, into the compound of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem; the 2002 attack on the refugee camp of Jenin, and the siege later that year of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah, coupled with incursions into six West Bank cities in which nearly 500 Palestinians were killed; the 2003 murders of British peace activist Tom Hurndall in Gaza by an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) sniper, and of American peace activist Rachel Corrie by an IDF bulldozer driver in Rafah;17 repeated episodes of murderous IDF violence against demonstrations protesting the construction since 2002 of Israel’s illegal “Apartheid Wall,” which formalizes the theft of large swaths of territory from West Bank Palestinian communities;18 IDF Operations Rainbow and Days of Penitence, which in May and October 2004 killed a total of over 150 Palestinians; the bombing and invasion of Lebanon in 2006, in which nearly 1,200 Lebanese civilians and about 250 Hezbollah fighters died (as well as some 160 Israelis, three-quarters of them soldiers); the blockade of Gaza since 2006, in punishment for having democratically elected a Hamas government; Operation Summer Rains, a June 2006 attack on Gaza that involved the arrest of more than one-third of the Palestinian Authority’s cabinet ministers, the destruction of Gaza’s only electrical power station, and, together with Operation Autumn Clouds in November 2006, the killing of about 525 Palestinians; airstrikes on Gaza in February 2008 that killed more than 200 people; and Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s bombing and invasion of Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, during which some 1,400 Palestinians were killed.19

It is important when mentioning these actions by the Israeli state and its armed forces—and assessing what I believe to be their evident and insistent criminality—to acknowledge that Palestinian suicide-bomb attacks and rocket counter-attacks against Israel have likewise been criminal. People have a clear [170] right to resist illegal occupation, but the targeting of civilians is in all cases a violation of international law. In terms of the substantive matters at stake, however, there is no doubt who is in the right: as Richard Falk has observed, “international law is on the side of the Palestinians with respect to every major issue in contention.”20 And with respect both to a near-monopoly in terms of military power and to the political control underwritten by the US and other countries, it is transparently the case that, in Marwan Bishara’s words, Israel has “dictated the level of violence in Palestine.”21

In January 2009, a month which saw the climax of Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” and a flurry of news reports about Israeli war crimes, including attacks on medical facilities, ambulances and UN buildings in Gaza, the use of civilians as human shields, and the deployment against civilians of white phosphorus, flechette missiles, and Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) weapons, the CST recorded 286 antisemitic incidents in the UK, more than five times as many as in the previous January, and “by far the highest number ever recorded in a single month since CST began recording antisemitic incidents in 1984.” (The highest previous monthly number was recorded in October 2000—the month following the outbreak of the second Intifada.) Only in April 2009 did the number of incidents recorded return to “normal pre-Gaza levels”; by the end of June, a total of 609 incidents had been recorded.22

The CST’s incident-report figures give every appearance of having been carefully sifted. The Parliamentary Inquiry was told that the Association of Chief Police Officers and the London Metropolitan Police “work closely with the CST in recording and in investigating antisemitic incidents, and […] have confidence in [its] statistics” (Report, 42). Before classifying an incident as antisemitic, the CST requires positive indications of intention: “for example language used by the perpetrator at the time of the incident, or the fact that antisemitic slogans or literature accompanied the incident.” As a result, “In 2005 they rejected 194 reports of incidents which could not reasonably be shown to have been motivated by antisemitism” (Report, 37-38)—that is to say, nearly 30 percent of the alleged incidents reported to the CST. In 2008, 347 alleged incidents (39 percent of a total of 888) were rejected; in the first six months of 2009, 236 alleged incidents (28 percent of a total of 845) were likewise set aside.23

Although these records of antisemitic incidents reveal what seems a disturbing trend, they come, one should remember, come from a country of some 62 million people: the 2005 numbers indicate, on average, about one antisemitic incident in that year among every 135,000 Britons, and one antisemitic physical assault among every 738,000 Britons. This may be why, in his oral evidence to the Inquiry, Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks declared: “If you were to ask me is Britain an antisemitic society, the answer is manifestly and obviously no. It is one of the least antisemitic societies in the world” (Report, 5).

[171] In pointing to these averages, I do not in the least mean to minimize the impact of vile behaviour, whatever its frequency. Averages, however they may be calculated, are small comfort to someone on the receiving end of a racist insult or assault—and Britain’s Jews are very much concentrated in London and other cities like Manchester. One may then feel sympathy for what Henry Greenwald, QC, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told the Inquiry: “There is probably a greater feeling of discomfort, greater concerns, greater fears now about antisemitism than there have been for many decades” (Report, 5).24

It does seem clear that at “trigger” moments such as those noted above, when the illegality and indiscriminate violence of the state of Israel’s actions have become particularly hard to ignore, antisemites feel more free to insinuate their opinions into public discourse and to act upon them, naïve young people may be more easily lured into adopting antisemitic opinions, and vehement opponents of Israel’s actions and its long-term policies may make the very unfortunate—I would say shameful—error of equating Jews in general with the actions of a state, and of venting their anger against that powerful state’s well-documented crimes upon the usually defenseless Jews nearest at hand.25

One must at the same time acknowledge that leading institutions in the Jewish community—in the UK, the United States, Canada, France and elsewhere—bear some responsibility for the spread of this error. Such institutions cannot, with any show of integrity, declare themselves to be in uncritical solidarity with the state of Israel’s crimes and aggressions, and then find it shocking when fellow citizens, naively accepting their claims to be speaking for the Jewish community as a whole, make the mistake of blaming Jews in general for Israel’s actions.

What are we to make of the Community Security Trust’s data? It has apparently been collected with care. But how reliable is incident-report data of this kind in establishing trends—in telling us, for example, whether over a number of years antisemitism is on the increase, and if so, by how much?

This may seem a peculiar question. Don’t the CST figures we have just examined tell us quite clearly by exactly how much the problem has been worsening ever since 1984, when the CST began collecting its data?

Surprisingly enough, these figures cannot tell us anything so definite. Let us see why.


Questions of method and context

The UK Report shows some awareness of the difficulty of arriving at a reliable assessment of shifts and trends in the prevalence of antisemitism through incident-report data. It cites Home Office research indicating that in 2003-04 the police managed to record only about a quarter of all racist incidents in Britain (Report, paragraph 43);26 the Report also quotes a warning from officers of the Manchester Police that recent improvements in data collection could [172] skew any interpretation of trends: “apparent statistical increases in antisemitic incidents could be due, at least in part, to increased reporting and changes in recording” (Report, 64).

The authors of the Report are content merely to mention this remark—without, it seems, recognizing its importance. As a quick look at British Home Office crime statistics will make clear, they should have listened more carefully.

The Home Office collects two different kinds of crime statistics: (1) incident-report data compiled from the records supplied by police departments across the country of the numbers of all the different kinds of criminal offences committed each year; and (2) survey data from an annual British Crime Survey (BCS) which asks a representative sample of people aged 16 and over in England and Wales about their experiences and perceptions of crime. Since the number of people sampled in face-to-face interviews is very large (rising from 10,000 in the first BCS in 1981 to more than 46,000 in 2008-09), the resulting estimates have a small margin of error for most categories of crime.27

As the authors of the most recent Home Office statistical bulletin on Crime in England and Wales observe, these two kinds of statistics are useful in different ways. The police incident-report figures provide useful data for “small geographic areas” and “a good measure of trends in well-reported crimes and also the less common but more serious crimes,” such as homicide. They are, in addition, “an important indicator of police workload”28—which is to say that “for some categories of crime,” police figures “can reflect police workload and activity rather than underlying levels of crime.”29 The BCS data, on the other hand, is “not affected by whether the public report crime or by changes to the way in which the police record crime,” and it “provides the most reliable measure of the extent of victimization and of national trends over time.”30

These two sets of data give very different impressions of the long-term trends in criminal behaviour in the UK. According to police records, the total annual number of criminal offences in Britain rose steadily from about 3 million in 1981 to some 5.6 million in 1992, declining then to about 4.5 million in 1998-99. In that year new counting rules produced an immediate jump to 5 million; the number then rose to about 5.3 million in 2001-02, jumping the next year to about 5.8 million with the introduction of a new National Crime Recording Standard. The total number of recorded offences peaked at just under 6 million in 2003-04, and has since declined from 5.6 million in 2004-05 to 4.7 million in 2008-09.31

But according to BCS data, the total annual number of criminal offences rose steadily from about 11 million in 1981 to a peak of about 19.4 million in 1995; the number then declined just as steadily to about 12.6 million in 2001-02 and 10.7 million in 2008-09.32

The difference between trends in violent crime indicated by police records and by the BCS data is equally striking. As the BBC News informs us, the [173] annual number of violent crime offences recorded by the police rose from about 320,000 in 1995 to some 340,000 by April 1st, 1998—at which point new police counting rules were introduced, and the number climbed rapidly to over 1 million by 2003-04.33

BCS survey data indicates a quite different pattern, of some 2.1 million violent crimes in 1981, rising to 4.2 million in 1995, then declining to about 2.7 million in 2001-02, and to 2.1 million in 2008-09. According to the BCS, total criminal offences declined by 45 percent between 1995 and 2008-09, and violent crimes by 49 percent.34

We have noted that new police counting rules came into effect in 1998, and a new National Crime Recording Standard in 2002-03. The latter change was influenced in part by a new definition of racist incidents recommended in 1999, in the report of a judicial inquiry which had investigated the justice system’s actions in response to the 1993 racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, a black youth, by a gang of south London whites. Sir William Macpherson, a retired high court judge, found copious evidence of racism and incompetence in the conduct of the Metropolitan Police, most especially in their treatment of Lawrence’s parents and a friend of Lawrence’s who, though physically unharmed, was also a victim of the attack.35

Macpherson’s report criticized the then-current police definition of a racist incident (“any incident in which it appears to the reporting or investigating officer that the complaint involves an element of racial motivation, or any incident which includes an allegation of racial motivation made by any person”) as “potentially confusing”—and, Paul Iganski notes, as giving improper priority to the views of police officers over those of victims.36 One of the recommendations of Macpherson’s exemplary and profoundly decent report was “that the universally used definition should be: ‘A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person’.”37

The general acceptance of this recommendation, the publicity given to the Macpherson Inquiry, and a determination on the part of senior police officers to improve their handling of racist outrages were no doubt among the factors that led to a 350 percent increase from the number of racist incidents recorded by police forces in England and Wales in 1998-99 to the average annual number of incidents recorded from 1999-2000 to 2003-04.38

One of the things a comparison of the police incident-report data and the BCS data shows is that police reports are now capturing a much higher proportion of the actual number of criminal offences than they did in 1981. In that year the number of criminal offences reported by the police was just 27 percent of the total number indicated by the BCS data, while in 2008-09 the number reported by the police had risen to 44 percent of the BCS total. This evident increase in the proportion of offences being reported to the police is no doubt one reason why the police data show the number of criminal offences [174] rising between 1998-99 and 2003-04—at a time when the BCS data reveal that the annual number of crimes had actually been declining steadily since the peak year of 1995.

Perhaps more importantly, the police incident-report data show a substantial rise in the overall annual number of criminal offences since 1981: even once we have factored in the UK’s nearly 10 percent population increase between 1981 and 2008-09, the incident-report data show an apparent increase of about 45 percent in the overall prevalence of criminality. One can imagine this ‘fact’ being used as the basis for gloomy commentaries on a decline of civility. But if, as the BCS data shows, the aggregate number of criminal offences is actually several percent lower than it was nearly thirty years ago, even with a population that has grown from about 56.5 million to nearly 62 million, a quite different kind of narrative is called for.

The relevance of this comparison to the question of what the Community Security Trust’s annual records of antisemitic incidents tell us about actual levels of antisemitism should be obvious. The CST’s incident-report data shows a generally rising trend since 1984, with the number of antisemitic incidents recorded in 2008 three times as high as the average between 1984 and 1989. How much of this rise may be due to an increase in the proportion of incidents being reported?

It seems worth asking—though the Report takes no interest in such questions—what correlations there might be between the CST data and indicators of larger-scale tendencies toward incivility and racism in Britain.

The Report cites research into antisemitic hate crimes in London which reveals that more than four-fifths of the suspected perpetrators are male, “with the largest proportion of the suspects being aged 16-20” (56).39 This is the same demographic group that since the Thatcher years has been most seriously affected by structural unemployment and cuts to social services in the globalized UK economy—and, not coincidentally, has been of ever-increasing concern to law enforcement and government agencies for its participation in anti-social behaviour ranging from comparatively minor signs of social disaffection to terrifyingly violent football hooliganism and assaults, sometimes organized but more often merely opportunistic, on members of racial and ethnic minorities.

Tony Blair’s New Labour government passed legislation to deal with such behaviour (though not, of course, its underlying causes). The Crime and Disorder Act (1998), section 28 of which enhanced penalties for racially aggravated offences, also introduced “Anti-Social Behaviour Orders” (ASBOs), designed to regulate and punish obnoxious behaviour, by adolescents and young adults especially; the Police Reform Act (2002) and the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003) expanded the application of ASBOs.

It may be of interest that between the last quarter of 2003 and the last quarter of the following year—a period corresponding to one in which CST data shows a 42 percent year-to-year increase in antisemitic incidents—the number of ASBOs imposed in Britain, for the most part seemingly on unruly young [175] people, rose by 116 percent.40 This was a year in which the “trigger event” effects of Israeli military actions against Palestinian communities were arguably supplemented by public opposition to the Blair government’s participation in the unprovoked and openly criminal invasion of Iraq (which was enthusiastically cheered on by leaders of the state of Israel and by mainstream Jewish organizations internationally).41 The increase in ASBOs may reflect an attempt by the UK government to clamp down on dissident public behaviour, which included massive demonstrations against the war.

Other crime statistics—in particular, the Home Office data recording the overall numbers of “racially or religiously aggravated” offences reported in England and Wales—may be more helpful in shaping a contextualized understanding of the CST data.

In 2007-08, for example, the total number of “racially or religiously aggravated” offences recorded by the Home Office for England and Wales, including assaults, property damage, and harassment, came to just over 37,000.42 For that same year the CST reported a total of 551 antisemitic incidents. Britain’s Jews make up about 5 percent of the country’s population of minority groups.43 If we were to assume that the Home Office and CST figures could be placed alongside one another for purposes of comparison (by no means an automatic assumption, since a number of uncertainties are involved),44 it would appear that Jews were victimized in about 1.5 percent of the total number of racially or religiously aggravated offences in 2007-08. Hence (if we make allowance for the fact that significant numbers of offences were perpetrated by members of minorities, and for differences in the criteria used by the CST and the police in collecting data), Jews were probably between one-third and one-half as likely to be victims of such offences as, on average, the members of other minorities were.45

This should come as no surprise, given that only the black fedoras, untrimmed beards, and payot or sidelocks worn by some orthodox Jews, and the yarmulkes worn by some other Jewish men, make them visually recognizable: aggressive racists are more likely to insult or attack people whom they can readily identify as belonging to a minority group.46 But it may lead one to question the judgment of the British parliamentarians who decided to focus an inquiry solely on antisemitism, to the exclusion of other forms of racism that would appear to be victimizing larger numbers of people in British minority communities in a more intense manner.

* * * *

To sum up, then. The real totals of antisemitic incidents in the UK are undoubtedly much higher than the recorded numbers, which since 2000 especially show a pronounced upward movement, with distinct spikes that typically correspond to periods of widespread outrage over actions by the state of Israel.

[176] However, there are reasons to think that the raw data of incident records does not adequately represent the real long-term trends. Improvements in the ratio of recorded to actual incidents are of course desirable—but have the effect of making the level of incidents over a number of years appear to be rising more steeply than is actually the case. It is not clear whether, or to what degree, the factors that prompted rapid rises in police crime and racist incident statistics after 1998-99 may have had some influence on CST data. Improvements in the ratio of recorded to actual incidents between the 1980s and the past few years might more plausibly be ascribed to the CST’s vigorous community outreach and police liaison work.

But another more disturbing shift in the relationship between actual and recorded incidents may also be taking place. Vicky Kielinger and Susan Paterson of the Metropolitan Police noted in 2007 that recent research into antisemitism has developed “a new typology of incidents.”47 There have concurrently been widespread attempts to expand the overall category to include actions and statements that are seriously critical of the state of Israel, but could only appear antisemitic to those who, leaving historical and material realities behind, adopt a doctrine according to which the Israeli state comes to stand for everything Jewish, and for the Jewish people as a whole.

In this context, Macpherson’s definition of a racist incident, however appropriate it may have seemed for the situation in which he formulated it, becomes problematic. If, in response to your condemnation of Israeli policies and military actions as violations of international law and the Geneva Conventions, a Jewish listener or reader feels threatened, harmed and victimized in her innermost self, her perception makes your utterance, by Macpherson’s definition, an antisemitic incident. The CST, to its credit, insists on evidence of racist motivation or intent before accepting an incident as antisemitic. However, as we will shortly see, an expanded category of antisemitism may be having some effect on CST incident tallies.48

Taken together with these factors, the British Crime Survey data raise some doubt as to the degree of confidence we can place on incident-report data. With a sample size sufficient to produce a very small margin of error, the BCS showed overall criminal offences in Britain to have declined by about 40 percent in the decade after 1995, while police incident-report data showed a 10 percent rise.

Parallel data from France fall into a similar pattern. Biennial surveys of criminal victimization conducted since 2001 in the Île-de-France region, with a sample size of 10,500, show a statistically insignificant decline from 2001 to 2009 in the percentage of people victimized by physical or verbal aggressions (from 6.7 to 6.4 percent), and a slightly larger decline (from 15.3 to 14.8 percent) in the overall percentage of victimizations, including theft. Police incident-report statistics, in contrast, show crimes against persons in the Île-de-France increasing by more than 25 percent between 2001 and 2008.49

[177] In both Britain and France the survey data on criminal offences reveal a trend concealed, indeed controverted, by the less accurate incident-report data from police records. However, when it comes to UK antisemitic incidents, we have only the CST’s incident-report data, as well as the largely overlapping information from police records, to rely on.50

Let us then speculate. If the proportion of incidents that gets recorded has in fact risen substantially over what it was ten or twenty years ago, then the long-term trend in the number of actual antisemitic incidents in Britain could resemble the curve in the number of criminal offences traced by BCS data: rising in the 1980s, peaking in the mid-1990s and declining throughout the rest of that decade.

There is of course this important difference—that unlike BCS criminal offence figures, which have continued to show a steadily declining trend, the CST’s figures for reported antisemitic incidents have risen quite dramatically since 2000.


Evidence from France and Elsewhere

If the evidence from Britain is, at the very least, ambiguous, are there signs elsewhere in Western Europe of a resurgent antisemitism? France might seem the obvious place to look, given the grim prominence of antisemitism there from the late 19th century until World War Two, the fact that France has Western Europe’s largest population both of Jews (well over half a million) and of Muslims (some 5 million)—as well as Martin Peretz’s claim, in an essay in the New Republic, that Paris is “the headquarters of Anti-Semitic Europe today, just as during the Third Republic.”51

Anxieties over a renewed rise in antisemitism have recurrently been expressed in France, most notably in 2009 at the annual dinner in March of the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF), whose president, Richard Prasquier, found reason for fear in the very marked increase in antisemitic incidents noted by the Ministry of the Interior at the beginning of 2009.52

In January 2009, as demonstrations against Israel’s Operation Cast Lead grew larger and more angry, French Muslim leaders acted promptly to denounce antisemitic acts; and on January 13th Mohamed Moussaoui, head of the Conseil Français du Culte Musulman (CFCM), joined Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim and the Roman Catholic Cardinal of Paris in calling for calm and an avoidance of what Moussaoui called “the trap of tensions opposing Muslims and Jews.”53

There does not appear to have been any reciprocal sensitivity on the part of French Jewish leaders. CRIF, declaring its support for Israel’s military action, stated that “95 percent of French Jews” were of the same opinion54—a dubious claim, given that neither CRIF nor anyone else knows within a range of about 10 percent how many Jews there are in France.55 Chief Rabbi Bernheim, for his [178] part, expressed unwavering support (“soutien indéfectible”) for Israel; rejecting the notion that Israeli actions could have been disproportionate, he blamed Hamas fighters for the fact that attacks on schools, hospitals and mosques had resulted in “de nombreuses victimes civiles.”56

Despite a deplorable increase in antisemitic incidents, and a clear setback in relations between France’s Jewish and Muslim communities,57 claims like Martin Peretz’s about French antisemitism are obvious exaggerations. In February 2006 the racially-motivated murder of a Jewish man by a gang of extortionists prompted a protest march in Paris attended by “tens of thousands” of Parisians, with parallel demonstrations in Bordeaux, Lyon and elsewhere;58 the victim’s memorial service was attended by President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.59

Laurent Mucchielli, one of France’s most eminent sociologists, has argued that the data collected by the Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l’Homme and published over the past two decades in its annual reports in fact reveals a steady decline in French antisemitism.

For example, in 1946 just over a third of French people regarded French Jews as fully French; by 2000 the percentage had doubled, and by 2004 nearly 90 percent were willing to accept French Jews as fully French.60 Peer-reviewed studies which Mucchielli cites contradict claims of the rise of “une nouvelle judéophobie” or “new antisemitism of the left,” finding rather that antisemitism and opposition to Israel are often conjoined on the extreme right, but that on the left those most opposed to the policies of the state of Israel are often the least antisemitic. Mucchielli acknowledges that antisemitism is more common among recent immigrants to France, especially practising Muslims, while also noting that it remains a minority viewpoint among immigrants and declines rapidly in succeeding generations. French antisemitism remains correlated with advanced age, a low level of education, and right-wing politics; and France possesses a very stringent and firmly applied array of legal sanctions against racist and antisemitic acts (including speech acts: the insult “sale Juif” or “dirty Jew” is punishable by six months in prison and a fine of 22,500 euros).61

Despite sharp recent jumps in the numbers of reported antisemitic incidents, there is evidence, then, of a steady decline in France of this toxic prejudice. There remains a residual old-fashioned antisemitism, which together with the antisemitism of a minority of new immigrants (largely North African Muslims) is cause for concern. It is worth noting, however, that the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC)’s 2004 study of Manifestations of Antisemitism in the EU 2002-2003 cites a survey according to which “young people of North African origin are in fact even more intolerant of anti-Semitism than the average.”62

If the evidence from the UK and France casts doubt on the accuracy of the CPCCA’s claim of a resurgence of anti-Semitism, a thoughtful recent essay by [179] Matti Bunzl leads us to a similar conclusion for Western Europe as a whole. Bunzl argues that “To think that the EU is ground zero for the resurgence of anti-Semitism is simply misguided. Even more, it has obscured the far more pressing reality of Islamophobia. Whereas traditional anti-Semitism has run its historical course with the supercession of the nation-state, Islamophobia is rapidly emerging as the defining condition of the new Europe.”63

(The latter claim, one might remark in passing, appears to find support in what quantitative data there is from the UK. In the single month of September 2007, for example, the caseworker of Britain’s Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) dealt with 57 cases, most of them presumably definable as “Islamophobic incidents”—which at an annualized rate would amount to over 680 incidents in a year.64 This would presumably be a smaller fraction of the actual number of incidents than is the case with the CST’s records of antisemitic incidents, which are arrived at through an allocation of rather more substantial resources.)

Bunzl finds a “terrible historical irony” in the contrast between traditional European antisemitism and the antisemitism of young Muslims who carry out racist attacks in Europe: “While the former sought to exclude Jews from the nation-states of Europe, the latter targets Jews precisely because of their Europeanness.” One side-effect of the Zionist project was supposed to be that it would give to European Jews, hitherto despised by antisemites as “stateless parasites,” new respect “as members of a viable national community.” This project, Bunzl declares, is now “haunted by its own success”: “As young Muslims target Jews as expatriates of a colonizing state, they confirm Zionism’s ultimate achievement: Europe’s Jews have finally become European.”65

Bunzl’s opinion that claims about a resurgence of European antisemitism are “misguided,” and that Islamophobia is a “far more pressing reality,” is supported by survey data. In April 2004 the Pew Research Center concluded, on the basis of an international survey conducted in the U.S. and eight other countries, that “Despite concerns about rising anti-Semitism in Europe, there are no indications that anti-Jewish sentiment has increased over the past decade. Favorable ratings of Jews are actually higher now in France, Germany and Russia than they were in 1991.[….] Europeans hold much more negative views of Muslims than of Jews.”66


Misusing the data

I turn now to more contentious matters—to a Community Security Trust director’s misrepresentation of CST data, resulting in a serious exaggeration of the evidence of attacks on Jews by Muslims; and then to what may be related evidence of conceptual slippage in the definition of antisemitism (which could cast doubt upon the manner in which some of the most recent antisemitic incident data has been gathered), and to implicit or explicit accusations of libel which, I will argue, are themselves libelous.

[180] In May 2008 Michael Whine, the CST’s director of governmental and international affairs, published an interview on “Muslim-Jewish Interactions in Great Britain” in the journal of the Institute for Global Jewish Affairs. In the course of this interview, he stated that “in 2007 we [the CST] have recorded figures for 243 of the 547 physical attacks on Jews. In 129 cases the perpetrators were white British, 15 were East European, 27 were blacks, 52 were Asian, and 14 were of Arab appearance. The last two categories, in essence, are probably Muslims. Their share in the violence is far higher than their proportion of the population.”67

There is a problem here. Whine refers us, in a footnote, to p. 12 of the CST’s Antisemitic Incidents Report 2007, where the same figures recur, minus the speculation about the religion of the perpetrators who were Asian or “of Arab appearance”—and with another very important difference: the figures in the CST report refer, not to “physical attacks,” but to “incidents.”68

On p. 6 of the CST report, the number of incidents appears again: “CST recorded 547 antisemitic incidents in the U.K. in 2007.” And on the same page: “CST recorded 113 incidents of Assault in 2007,” as well as one instance of “extreme violence,” the attempted murder of an elderly rabbi.69 (The CST’s standard practice, in this and other reports, is to include everything from racist slurs and insults to assaults of murderous intensity in the broad but carefully subdivided category of “incidents.”)

By misrepresenting “incidents” as “physical attacks,” Whine multiplies the actual number of reported physical attacks on Jews by a factor of almost five. And because of his assumption that people described as being “of Asian and Arab appearance” are “in essence […] probably Muslims,” he manages to multiply the probable number of British Muslims who actually attacked Jews in 2007 by a somewhat larger factor.

Setting aside the likelihood that a significant proportion of the 547 recorded antisemitic incidents (possibly more than 10%) did not involve any criminal offence, let alone a physical assault,70 let’s accept for a moment Whine’s dubious assumption that nearly all the 52 purportedly Asian and 14 Arab-looking perpetrators—of incidents, we must insist, not attacks, as he indicates—were Muslims. On that assumption, close to 27 percent (66 out of 243) of the perpetrators described by victims would have been Muslims. If an equal proportion of the perpetrators of the actual 114 physical attacks recorded by the CST answered to the very loose descriptions of appearing to be Asian or Arab, then people believed to be Muslims would have committed 31 of the 114 racially-motivated assaults on British Jews in 2007.

However, some of the people thought by victims to be Asian- or Arab-looking and assumed by Whine to be Muslims may well have been neither Asian, Arab, nor Muslim: I know a Canadian Sikh (i.e. a non-Muslim “Asian”) who has been mistaken in Morocco and France for an Arab, in Spain for a gitana or Roma, in Italy for an Italian and in Greece for a Greek. It seems reasonable to guess that the actual number of aggressions by Muslims against Jews was probably less than 31.

[181] If only five of the hypothetical 31 Asian- or Arab-looking people were non-Muslims, then Muslim attacks on Jews in the UK would have occurred at an average rate of about one per fortnight. An unpleasant average, to be sure—but less dismaying than a rate of one attack every two and one-half days.

The latter average is the one implied by Whine’s interview. For if 27 percent of physical attacks were carried out by people who he thinks were very probably Muslims, and if there were—as he claims—a total of 547 attacks, then something close to 148 attacks could be blamed on Muslims.

Is it possible that the CST’s director of governmental and international affairs could have innocently misread his own organization’s most recent annual incidents report, mistaking “incidents” for “attacks”? Even on the charitable assumption that Mr. Whine was not deliberately seeking to deceive, his error would appear to reflect an understanding that the more frightening the statistics on hostility to Jews can be made to appear, the greater will be his and the CST’s powers of leverage, in relation both to governments and to Jewish communities at home and abroad.

As it stands, the error looks very much like an instance of Islamophobia. If a prominent Muslim were to misrepresent statistics of Jewish violence against Muslims in a parallel manner, how much hesitation would there be in describing his behaviour as a deliberate incitement of racism and intercommunal hostility?


Conceptual Slippages

The UK Islamic Human Rights Commission suggested in July 2009 that an equation of “pro-Palestinian work or any work critical of Israel” with racism has become increasingly evident in the publications of the Community Security Trust.71 This criticism would appear to find support in a briefing paper on Antisemitic incidents and threats to Jews arising from the Gaza crisis circulated by the CST in January 2009. A section of the paper entitled “Antisemitic and Anti-Israel Incitement” includes, as an example of this joint category, the fact that “In London, Hizballah flags have been waved at some of the demonstrations”72—wording which might lead one to wonder whether the CST may have begun to count such instances of flag-waving as antisemitic incidents.

Another 2009 CST publication, A Student’s Guide to Antisemitism on Campus, suggests a similarly expanded understanding of what constitutes an antisemitic incident. After outlining some of the key tropes of European antisemitism—the conspiracy trope (most infamously expressed in that 19th-century forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion), the trope of dual loyalty (according to which Jews cannot be assimilated, and therefore can never fully be citizens), and the blood libel (the appalling fantasy of ritual murder)—the Student’s Guide defines the “new antisemitism” as what happens “when antisemitic tropes” of this kind “are normalised by replacing the word ‘Jew’ with the word ‘Zionist’.”73

[182] Examples of this new antisemitism offered by the Student’s Guide include any references by journalists to “a ‘Jewish lobby’ controlling events in Washington” (this is “an updated version of the Jewish conspiracy allegation”). Immediately following the short list of examples, the reader is advised that “What you choose to do about an antisemitic incident is of course the next step […].”74

The Student’s Guide denounces John J. Mearsheimer’s and Stephen M. Walt’s book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy at length as “merely an updated version of traditional antisemitic tropes” (those of a “world conspiracy,” of dual loyalty, and also, implicitly, the blood libel).75

If Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s scrupulously documented study is a mere farrago of antisemitism, then so also must be the article in which journalist and ex-CIA agent Philip Giraldi comments on an odd partnership of the leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives, House Majority leader Steny Hoyer and House Minority whip Eric Cantor: in January 2009 Hoyer and Cantor co-authored an op-ed defending Israel’s attack on Gaza as “A Defensive War”; in May they co-authored a letter to their congressional colleagues urging “devoted” friendship to Israel (or rather, as Giraldi discovered, they put their names to a letter written for them by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC]); and in August they led 56 congressional representatives and their spouses on a two-week trip to Israel paid for by AIPAC.76

AIPAC itself is happy to quote the New York Times’ description of it as “the most important organization affecting America’s relationship with Israel,”77 and proudly points to the respectful attendance at its annual policy conference extravaganza of figures including then-presidential candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain, together with the most powerful members of Congress from both parties.78 Is AIPAC also flirting with the tropes of a revived antisemitism? Or are we only permitted to remark on the power of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States if we approve of that lobby’s aims?

In its report on Antisemitic Incidents: January-June 2009, the CST notes, as before, that it has rejected reports of incidents where “there was no evidence of antisemitic motivation, targeting or content […].” The report adds that “Anti-Israel activity, which does not use antisemitic language or imagery and is directed at pro-Israel campaigners rather than Jewish people or institutions per se, is also not classified by CST as antisemitic.”79 But it is not clear how one could criticize present actions and long-term policies of the state of Israel—a “Jewish institution,” surely—without, by this definition, incurring an accusation of antisemitism.

The logic of this is perverse. The more the state of Israel’s actions demand not just occasional, but thoroughgoing and systematic criticism, the more the CST’s count of antisemitic incidents risks becoming inflated, because each such criticism is effectively one such incident. And the more antisemitic incidents there appear to be, the stronger is the likelihood that diaspora Jews [183] will regard Israel as a necessary homeland and refuge, and accept the state of Israel’s increasing commitment to aggressive warfare as a ‘defensive’ necessity against a world populated by Jew-hating gentiles.

Another recent publication, Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2008, shows more clearly a tendency on the part of the CST to conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism. In this report, accusations of deviations into antisemitism are leveled at cartoonists Steve Bell, Carlos Latuff, and Dave Brown, at journalists Johann Hari, Pankaj Mishra, Robert Fisk, John Pilger, Alan Hart, and Lauren Booth, and at politicians Caroline Lucas and George Galloway—based on readings of their work that are sometimes absurdly dislocated from any reference to easily ascertainable facts in the matters under discussion, and sometimes openly shameful in their distortions.

The most disgraceful instance of distortion is in the CST’s treatment of Johann Hari. In April 2008 Hari wrote a column in anticipation of the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel—in which he declared himself unable, despite his admiration for many aspects of Israel’s culture, “to crash the birthday party” with words of reassurance appropriate for a sixty-year-old.80

Among his reasons were the well-documented facts that “Across the occupied West Bank, raw untreated sewage is pumped every day out of the Jewish settlements […] straight onto Palestinian land,” where it contaminates groundwater and reservoirs;81 and that in Gaza, Israel’s blockade, punishing the population “for voting ‘the wrong way’” in 2006, includes an embargo on materials needed to repair the sewage system. As a result, Palestinians’ access to drinking water, a basic human right, is threatened throughout the occupied territories—and in Gaza, “Vast stagnant pools of waste are being held within fragile dykes across the strip [.…]. The Centre on Housing Rights warns that one heavy rainfall could send 1.5 m[illion] cubic metres of faeces flowing all over Gaza, causing ‘a humanitarian and environmental disaster of epic proportions’.”82

Appealing to the consciences of Israelis and their Western supporters, Hari’s article also proposes that a peaceful resolution of the competing claims of Palestinians and of Israelis, whose parents or grandparents escaped from “a genocidal European anti-Semitism,” is actually possible. But to achieve it, Israel needs to come to terms with a history it “has known, and suppressed,” which includes the ethnic cleansing of 1948 as well as its literally filthy present-day treatment of the Palestinians.83

In a follow-up essay, Hari analyzed the strong reaction this piece evoked from “high profile ‘pro-Israel’ writers and media monitoring groups,” who with “little attempt to dispute the facts [he] offered” denounced him as “an anti-Jewish bigot” comparable to Nazi propaganda minister Josef Goebbels or Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—thereby engaging in a kind of smearing that a former editor of Haaretz, whom Hari quotes, calls “nascent McCarthyism.”84

[184] The CST, to its shame, joined the chorus of smear-artists in its report on Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2008. While devoting a full page to refuting Hari’s complaints about smearing, which it dismisses on the inane grounds that he fails to name all of the British and American “groups and individuals who speak on antisemitism,” this report finds space to say of his preceding article only that “he used the themes of Israeli ‘raw untreated sewage’ and ‘shit’ to help explain why he could not bring himself to celebrate 60 years since Israel’s creation.”85

This is smearing by omission. Hari did indeed make emblematic use of the disgraceful facts he reported—but that these are indeed facts and not rumour or scandal-mongering is made clear by his article’s on-site reporting and references to public interventions by human rights organizations. By omitting any hint of the factual basis of Hari’s first essay, the CST invites its readers to suppose that the essay was abusive and scatological, a vile and disgusting libel against Israel and, by extension, Jews in general.

An ironic coda to this episode is provided by the fact that on December 27, 2008, the first day of Operation Cast Lead (and prior to the CST report’s publication), Israeli aircraft destroyed the Namar Wells water treatment complex in Jabalya and “carried out a strike against a wall of one of the raw sewage lagoons of the Gaza Waste Water Treatment Plant, which caused the outflow of more than 200,000 cubic metres of raw sewage into neighbouring farmland.”86 These attacks, which according to the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict violated the Fourth Geneva Convention and amounted to a war crime,87 suggest that the denial of drinking water to Palestinians, by the foulest means possible, is a matter of deliberate state policy.88

* * * *

The pattern of this smearing of Johann Hari is significant. It is accomplished by deleting or omitting the evidentiary basis of a criticism of actions by the Israeli state, and then discovering in what remains a libelous slur against Israel that resonates strongly with long-established motifs in the discourse of European antisemitism. In this case the antisemitic motif being evoked, while not explicitly mentioned, is obvious enough. Hari is being accused of a scatological slur that implicitly revives a traditional antisemitic association of Jewishness with the abject category of excrement89—that from which, by the logic of this foul association, we must separate ourselves to avoid defilement and contamination; that which we must cast away, discard, or bury.

This sleight of hand is among the cheapest of rhetorical cheap tricks. The lived material and historical reality, in which the Israeli state has sought literally to defile Palestinians—with the raw sewage from hilltop settlements in the West Bank, with a blockade that knowingly prevents Gazans from dealing adequately with their own sewage, and then with aerial attacks designed to release the accumulated foulness onto their farmland and to deprive them [185] of water to drink or cleanse themselves with—this reality is quietly made to disappear. The article which drew attention to the plight of the actual victims becomes no more than a site from which to extract present-day analogues to the antisemitic trope of defilement; and with the foul material reality inverted as antisemitic metaphor, the article’s author is himself transformed into a defiler, a victimizer, a practitioner of the “new antisemitism.”90


The Canadian Data

Turning now to the Canadian data on antisemitic incidents, one might think at first glance that they reveal a dire situation. The most widely publicized source of information is B’nai Brith Canada’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, the 2007 version of which reports with alarm that

In 2007, 1,042 incidents were reported to the League for Human Rights, constituting an increase of 11.4% from the previous year. This figure breaks through a ceiling of 1,000 that would have seemed unthinkable just a few short years ago. A five-year view shows that the number of incidents has almost doubled since the 584 incidents reported in the 2003 Audit. A 10-year view shows an upward trend with the exception of a small hiatus in 2005, with incidents jumping more than four-fold since 1998, when there were 240 cases. Twenty-six years ago, when the League released its first Audit, the number of reported incidents was just 63.91

The trend identified here might indeed seem disquieting, especially given that in the United States the Anti-Defamation League reported “an overall decrease of 13% […], from 1,554 incidents down to 1,357 in 2007,” while Britain “saw a decrease of 8% from 594 incidents in 2006 to 547 in 2007,” and France “experienced a decline of 31%, from 371 incidents in 2006 to 256 in 2007.”92 More disturbing than the year-to-year changes are the absolute numbers, which, given population sizes—France and the UK each have nearly twice Canada’s population, while the population of the US is nine times that of Canada—appear to suggest that Canadians are very much more antisemitic than the Americans, the British, or the French.

In 2008, when the tally of antisemitic incidents reported in Canada rose by a further 8.9 percent to 1,135, the authors of the 2008 Audit declared that

What emerges from the 2008 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents is that the essence of Canada’s civility is being threatened; as part of the global community, it is clearly not immune from hatreds, both home-grown and imported. Failing to act now, and hiding instead under the cloak of multiculturalism, will set Canada on a path along which so many other countries are being propelled, one that sees these hatreds turn ever more vicious and violent.93

[186] Let’s pause for a moment over this passage. The Audit found that among the 1,135 reported antisemitic incidents in Canada in 2008 there were exactly 14 instances of assault94: that is to say, on average, one instance of actual or threatened violence over the entire year among every 2,357,000 Canadians. It is worth noting that in the UK the CST reported 88 instances of antisemitic violence in 200895—on average, one per annum among every 705,000 Britons. Are Britons, then, over three times more antisemitic than Canadians—or, as a comparison of the overall incident-report data might suggest, only one-quarter as antisemitic?

The total number of antisemitic incidents reported by B’nai Brith’s 2008 Audit amounts to about one instance over the year among every 29,000 Canadians. I don’t in the least mean to mitigate or excuse vicious and violent behaviour: just one antisemitic incident per year among all 33,000,000 Canadians would still be one too many. But to claim that “the essence of Canada’s civility” is threatened by one vile act per year on the part of one out of every 29,000 Canadians, and one aggressively vile act per year by one out of every 2,357,000, does seem excessive.

The Audit’s warning against “Failing to act now, and hiding instead under the cloak of multiculturalism” may seem puzzling—until it is recognized as a coded allusion to the policy of de-funding human rights NGOs that has since been vigorously pursued by Jason Kenney and his colleagues—a policy that B’nai Brith Canada has been recommending since shortly after the Harper government came to power early in 2006.96

It is relevant to an assessment of B’nai Brith’s work in compiling human rights data to note that this is in large part a political advocacy organization—and one that has consistently supported policies most Canadians would recognize as extremist. Not merely has B’nai Brith recommended and applauded de-funding the highly regarded human rights work of KAIROS and of UNRWA, it has attacked the principle of arms-length funding to Canadian universities, proposing in all seriousness that the Ontario government should de-fund universities which fail to completely suppress campus events that support Palestinian human rights and criticize Israel’s violations of them.97

B’nai Brith’s understanding of the history relevant to this latter issue is of course selective: not merely does it refuse to acknowledge the fact, well established by Israeli historians, of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that accompanied the founding of the state of Israel;98 it also supports Israel’s illegal policy of building settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories so strenuously as to insist, bizarrely, that “the ancestral presence of Jews in Judea and Samaria” makes it improper even to employ “terminology such as ‘settlements’.”99

Returning to B’nai Brith’s incident-report data, it is not remotely plausible that the actual number of antisemitic incidents in Canada could have increased eighteen-fold—as the passage I have quoted above from the 2007 Audit would [187] encourage its readers to suppose—between 1982, when B’nai Brith’s first annual Audit recorded just 63 incidents, and 2008, when the number rose, beyond the 2007 level, to 1,135. Various factors—among them, improvements in data collection, an increased willingness on the part of Canadian Jews to report antisemitic incidents, and changes in the definition of what constitutes such an incident, as well as, quite possibly, a real increase in the actual number of incidents—can account for the difference. To these one must add the very strong likelihood that B’nai Brith’s recent totals are inflated by a lack of critical sifting of incident reports, and by a systematic identification of criticisms of Israel as antisemitic incidents.

It seems obvious enough that B’nai Brith is now capturing a much higher proportion of the actually occurring incidents than it was able to in 1982—possibly even a higher proportion of the antisemitic incidents than the Community Security Trust in the U.K. manages to record. But it is no less obvious, to any critical reader of the annual audits, that B’nai Brith’s figures are not to be relied on. One telltale sign of inflation is the fact that violent incidents make up so much smaller a proportion of the total in B’nai Brith’s 2008 figures than in the CST’s data from the same year: 1.2 percent of the total, as opposed to about 16 percent in the U.K. incident-report data.

The CST checks for antisemitic intention in every incident reported to it—and in 2008 rejected fully 39 percent of these “potential incidents,” finding in them “no evidence of antisemitic motivation, targeting or content.”100 B’nai Brith claims, in its 2007 Audit, that the incidents reported to it “are corroborated, documented and analyzed,” in close collaboration with “police forces and Jewish community institutions.”101 But there is no indication that incidents reported to B’nai Brith are ever found, on analysis, to be either misapprehensions—cases in which, for example, a purported antisemitic assault turns out to have been a mugging whose victim just happened to be Jewish; or else fabulations—cases in which reports of slurs or hate speech are revealed, on investigation, to be pure invention.

As my concluding chapter will show, fabulations of this kind are distressingly frequent. This should perhaps come as no surprise, given the political advantages to be garnered in Canada from a position of victimhood—advantages that might, on reflection, be taken as evidence that our society retains a very substantial degree of decency, despite B’nai Brith’s claim that the very essence of our civility is endangered.

Is there evidence, then, of an ideologically motivated inflation of incident-report figures? One would not expect there to be any such inflation in the numbers relating to incidents involving violence or vandalism: it is in incidents restricted to speech alone that the risk—or the opportunity—lies. The 2008 Audit informs us that “Although the war in Gaza did not begin until the final days of 2008, tensions in the Middle East were present in explicit form in 211 incidents during 2008, compared to 90 in 2007.” We are assured, however, that [188] the same definitions are being used as in all of the preceding annual audits: “Anti-Israel incidents, therefore, are not included, unless there is a clear anti-Jewish link.”102

But in the first sentence of the next paragraph, this assurance is strained by a declaration that the definitions used in past years give

an incomplete picture of the totality of the prejudice that currently targets the Jewish community. This new bigotry often masquerades as anti-Zionism, that unholy hybrid of age-old and new-age bigotry which purports to be merely legitimate criticism of the State of Israel and therefore respects no boundaries of civility, fact or logic.103

“And therefore”? The non sequitur of this last sentence would suggest that its authors are themselves having some difficulty with logic. And their declaration that whatever presents itself as legitimate criticism of Israel must really be an “unholy hybrid” of old and new bigotries is as uncivil as it is untrue.

“Respect[ing] no boundaries of civility, fact or logic”: it is a small gift to the critic when overwrought polemicists so directly name their own violations of good sense.

The authors of the 2008 Audit argue that all of the elements of campaigns like Israeli Apartheid Week, which seek to expose and criticize Israeli violations of international and humanitarian law—or as they prefer to say, which seek to delegitimize, demonize and criminalize the Jewish State, its citizens, and its supporters—put these campaigns “squarely within the European Union Monitoring Center (EUMC) definition of antisemitism […].” In making this argument, they want to show “that the figures reported in this Audit paint only one side of an increasingly ugly picture”104—in other words, that things are even worse than their statistics make them appear. But it is difficult, frankly, to believe that B’nai Brith’s incident counters, having identified all statements critical of Zionism as intrinsically antisemitic, were then able scrupulously to refrain from including any of them in their totals.

At the outset of this chapter, I quoted Gerald Caplan’s expression of skepticism about the annual incident-report audits published by B’nai Brith. But it is not just left-leaning Jews who doubt the validity of these statistics. Jonathan Kay of the National Post, writing from a different point on the political spectrum, is scathing in his dismissal of B’nai Brith’s “phobic mission to convince us that Canadian society is suffused with Nazi-like hatred”:

Every year, B’nai Brith puts out an “audit” of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada. And every year, the document is reported on by the mass media, which uncritically parrots the group’s absurd contention that anti-Semitism is a growing epidemic in this tolerant country. Reporters politely overlook the fact that B’nai Brith’s definition [189] of “incident” is dumbed down: Any web posting, stray comment, or scrap of graffiti fits the bill. This allows B’nai Brith to reel off thousands of examples.

Most readers don’t stop to scrutinize how trivial these examples are: They just look at the impressive-seeming bar graphs, which purport to show a Jewish community in a constant state of terror. The result: Older Jews with dark historical memories become terrified, and the donations to B’nai Brith come rolling in.105

The rhetorical excesses of B’nai Brith, and its concurrent inflation of antisemitic-incident statistics, look very much like a response to the fact that public discourse in Canada over the Israel-Palestine issue, which used to resemble a monologue, with steady support for Israel’s position and behaviour from government statements and most media commentary, has begun to include increasingly frequent and critical references to the principles of international law, and to the findings of human rights organizations as to their violation.

B’nai Brith, it seems, would like to bully and to frighten the Canadian public back into its previous stance of acquiescence. But as long-time Palestinian solidarity activist Mordecai Briemberg has remarked, “trying to re-impose a monologue by resorting to hyperbole and slander only turns people of good will into sceptics.”106

* * * *

As it happens, government-collected figures are available which roundly contradict the trends identified in the B’nai Brith Audits. B’nai Brith tells us we are in very serious trouble because the numbers of antisemitic incidents reported in their annual Audits have more than tripled from 2001 to 2007—from less than 300 to well over 1,000.107 But government data, though far from complete, show a contrary trend in the numbers of antisemitic hate crimes, which over the same period appear either to have remained more or less steady or to have declined.

In 2001-2002, Statistics Canada conducted a Hate Crime Pilot Survey which gathered incident-report data from twelve police forces that cumulatively deal with about 43 percent of the total national volume of crime in Canada. That survey found that 928 hate crimes against all kinds of victims were reported by these police forces over the two years; 229 occurrences, or nearly a quarter of the total, were antisemitic.108

This data can (very approximately) be compared with the data on Hate Crime in Canada 2006 that was published in 2008 by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, a department of Statistics Canada.109 This report analyzes hate crime incident-report data for the year 2006 that was obtained from police departments servicing 87 percent of the population of Canada. These [190] departments reported a total of 892 hate crimes of all kinds. Of these, 220 hate crimes were motivated by religion—and within that category, 137 hate crimes (63 percent) were directed against Jews. These antisemitic hate crimes consisted of 32 violent incidents (two more than the number listed by B’nai Brith for the same year), 96 crimes against Jewish-owned property, and 9 other crimes (involving, no doubt, incitement of antisemitic hatred).110

Canada’s Jewish population is largely urban; thus, although the police departments participating in the 2001-2002 Hate Crime Pilot Survey dealt with only 43 percent of the total volume of crime in Canada, they service cities in which rather more than 80 percent of Canadian Jews reside.111 The 2006 figures, though they come from police departments servicing 87 percent of Canada’s population, would very probably be applicable to nearly all of Canada’s Jewish population. On the not unreasonable assumption that the 2001-2002 data excluded 15 percent or a little more of the Jewish population effectively included in the 2006 study, and a corresponding proportion of antisemitic hate crimes, we can arrive at an estimate of approximately 133 to 135 antisemitic hate crimes for each of 2001 and 2002.112

In 2006, then, the number of recorded antisemitic hate crimes remained close to the estimated number for 2001 and 2002. In the following year, 2007, the number of antisemitic hate crimes reported to the police dropped to 124, and the overall number of hate crimes in Canada declined from the 2006 level of 892 to 785. The number of hate crimes motivated by religion fell from 220 to 185, with the 124 antisemitic hate crimes making up 69 percent of that number.113

The sparsity of the Statistics Canada data is frustrating. And as we have already observed, incident-report data is not the most reliable manner of establishing large-scale trends. Some data of a kind resembling the British Crime Survey is available: Statistics Canada conducts an annual General Social Survey (GSS), which has a large sample size (of more than 25,000 Canadians over the age of 15). Unfortunately, though, the GSS is devoted each year to a different topic or theme. Of the recent GSS reports, only those of 1999 and 2004 deal with victimization, and neither contains relevant information on hate crimes.114

We can, however, learn something about trends in antisemitic hate crimes by consulting the annual reports published by police forces in major cities. The Annual Hate/Bias Crime Statistical Report released by the Toronto Police Service is the most important of these—not least because Toronto is home to about 170,000 Jews, approximately one-half of Canada’s Jewish community.

An average of 202 hate crimes of all kinds have been reported to the Toronto police in each of the sixteen years up to 2008. In 2007, 130 hate crimes were recorded—the lowest number of occurrences in any year since the Toronto Hate Crime Unit began collecting statistics in 1993; 29 of these were antisemitic hate crimes.115

[191] The 2008 Annual Hate/Bias Crime Statistical Report, published in May 2009, documented a rise of 18 percent to a total of 153 hate crimes, 46 of them antisemitic. Toronto Police Service Board Chairman Dr. Alok Mukherjee is quoted at the time of the report’s release as explaining the rise in the overall hate crime figure in terms of two by now familiar factors: changes in the proportion of actual incidents being reported, and changes in recording methods and criteria. “‘There are more people coming forward,’ Mukherjee said. ‘And our own reports are becoming more sophisticated: we are tracking more, and there are more categories under which we track hate/bias crime than before.’”116

It is not clear that the rise in the number of antisemitic hate crimes in Toronto in 2008—to 46 from the previous year’s figure of 29—reflects an actual growth in antisemitic attitudes. In 2007 there were three antisemitic assaults, in 2008 none. In 2007 there was one case of harassment, and six of threats; in 2008 there were four cases of harassment, and one threat. The number of face-to-face instances of antisemitic hate crime reported to the police declined, that is, from ten to five. Crimes of antisemitic propaganda remained constant, with one instance of advocating genocide and one of willful promotion of hatred in 2007, and one each in 2008 of public incitement of hatred and willful promotion of hate. The big change was in the category of mischief, where there was a rise from 17 instances in 2007 to 37 in 2008.117

* * * *

I am not suggesting that we should find anything very reassuring about the data analyzed in this chapter: Jews are indeed being disproportionately targeted by hate-mongers. I have quoted above from a newspaper article on the release of the Toronto Police Service’s most recent annual survey of hate crimes in the city; that article also noted, paraphrasing the police report, that

The Jewish community remained the top target last year, followed by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community and the black community. Jewish people and organizations are most affected by mischief occurrences and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people fall victim to the largest number of violent hate-motivated crimes—usually assaults and threats….118

It should be apparent from the foregoing analysis that a greater and better-coordinated effort needs to be put into tracking and recording occurrences of hate crimes. One of the central recommendations of former Ontario Attorney General and Chief Justice Roy McMurtry and of Dr. Alvin Curling in their 2008 report to the government of Ontario on the causes of youth violence was that “the Province should proceed immediately to develop the methodology for the collection of race-based data in all key domains.”119 This should be not just a provincial, but a national project—and its primary objective ought to [192] be the collection of survey data through an expanded version of the General Social Survey, which should seek much more thorough information about victimization than is currently available, and should seek it annually rather than on the present five- or six-year cycle.

What should be still more obvious is that the claims made by the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism about a supposed resurgence of antisemitism in Canada and elsewhere are conspicuously untrue. Jason Kenney and Irwin Cotler and their colleagues are trying to panic Canadians into acquiescing in a draconian clamping down on democratic debate and free expression in this country. They are doing so under blatantly false pretences.




1  “Frequently Asked Questions,” CPCCA,

2  Ibid.

3  “About Us,” CPCCA,

4  “Petty vandalism” usually refers to acts like graffiti-scrawling. I don’t mean to minimize the sense of violation that can be produced by hateful graffiti (purse-snatching is another kind of violation, an assault in which one assailant typically restrains the victim while another robs her). My point is that anyone who writes about the blood libel as the author of the CPCCA text does has forgotten what an utterly horrible accusation it is, and what horrors of murderous persecution it has launched against entire communities.

5  Available at

6  See Introduction, note 50.

7  The Black Hundreds were far-right-wing tsarist organizations formed in Russia during and after the 1905 Russian Revolution; their xenophobic nationalism found expression in terrorist assassinations and pogroms. See Walter Laqueur, Black Hundred: The Rise of the Extreme Right in Russia (New York: Harper Collins, 1993).

8  Campbell Clark, “Opposition decries Tory attack ads sent to Jewish voters,” The Globe and Mail (19 November 2009, updated 27 November 2009),; see also “Tory pamphlets courting Jewish votes anger Grits: Text painting Liberals as anti-Semitic sent out in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg,” CBC News (20 November 2009),

9  Gerald Caplan, “Stephen Harper and the Jewish question: The Conservatives’ blatant wooing of Canadian Jews doesn’t add up,” The Globe and Mail (11 December 2009),

10  “Poll: Anti-Semitic views in the U.S. at a historic low,” Reuters, in Haaretz (29 October 2009),; cited by Murray Dobbin, “Will Harper criminalize criticism of Israel?” (19 November 2009), The ADL found that 12 percent of Americans are prejudiced against Jews. In 1964, when the poll was first conducted, “it found 29 percent of Americans held anti-Semitic views.”

11  The Statistics Canada publications to which Professor Naiman is referring are “SPOTLIGHT: Hate crime,” Infomat (8 June 2004), http://www.statcan.gc/pub/11-002-x/2004/06/16004/4072658-eng.htm; and “Police-reported hate crime,” The Daily (13 May 2009), The reports which they summarize are discussed in the concluding section of this chapter.

12  Quotations from or citations of the British Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism (London: The Stationery Office, September 2006),, will refer to the paragraph numbers of the passages in question.

13  The pattern is clear in the CST bar graph reproduced by the Report (29); exact figures can be found in Michael Whine, “Antisemitism on the streets,” in Paul Iganski and B. Kosmin, eds., A New Antisemitism? Debating Judaeophobia in 21st Century Britain (London: Profile, 2003), pp. 23-37; in the Antisemitic Incidents Report 2006 (London: CST, 2007),; in A Student’s Guide to Antisemitism on Campus (London: CST and the Union of Jewish Students, 2009),, p. 26.

14  The CST’s recent annual Antisemitic Incidents Reports are available at its website, As is noted in the Antisemitic Incidents Report 2008 (London: CST, 2009),, p. 4 n. 1, additional incidents for a particular year are sometimes reported after the publication of the report for that year, leading to subsequently higher figures for that year. The figures given here for 2005, 2006, and 2007 are the later corrected figures.

15  Antisemitic Incidents Report 2009 (London: CST, 2010),, pp. 4, 10.

16  Antisemitic Incidents Report 2008.

17  See Brian Smith, “Israel: soldier admits he knew slain peace activist Hurndall was unarmed,” World Socialist Web Site (23 December 2004),; Nigel Parry and Arjan El Fassed, “Photostory: Israeli bulldozer driver murders American peace activist,” The Electronic Intifada (16 March 2003),

18  See ‘jon the antizionist jew’, “Palestinian man shot and killed by tear-gas canister in Bil’in,” Daily Kos (17 April 2009),; Stephen Lendman, “How Israel Targets and Suppresses Opposition to its Annexation Wall,” Centre for Research on Globalization (23 September 2009),; and Neve Gordon, “On Palestinian Civil Disobedience,” ZSpace (28 September 2009),

19  Multiple Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of the Geneva Conventions and of customary international law in the course of Operation Cast Lead are documented in Richard Goldstone et al., Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories: Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (UN Human Rights Council, Twelfth session, 15 September 2009), (This report also takes note of the very much less damaging rocket attacks from Gaza against southern Israel, castigating them as indiscriminate attacks on civilians, and therefore also war crimes.) The casualty figures given for this and previous Israeli operations in Occupied Palestine are taken from paragraphs 30 (p. 10) and 193-96 (pp. 58-59) of this report; estimates for the 2006 attack on Lebanon are compiled from other sources.

20  Richard Falk, “Foreword” to Marwan Bishara, Palestine/Israel: Peace or Apartheid: Occupation, Terrorism and the Future (2nd edition; London: Zed Books, 2002), p. xvi. Falk specifies the issues: “ withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967, right of return of Palestinian refugees expelled or departed in 1948, sovereignty over Jerusalem, status of the settlements, both throughout the territories and within the expanded jurisdiction of Jerusalem.”

21  Marwan Bishara, Palestine/Israel, p. 16. This claim is amply substantiated by Bishara’s ensuing historical analysis. For further substantiation, see Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel and the Palestinians (Updated edition; Cambridge, MA: South End Pess, 1999); Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (New York: Norton, 2001); Baruch Kimmerling, Politicide: Ariel Sharon’s War Against the Palestinians (London: Verso, 2003); Jonathan Cook, Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (London: Pluto Press, 2008); and Slavoj Zizek, “Quiet slicing of the West Bank makes abstract prayers for peace obscene,” The Guardian (18 August 2009),

22  Antisemitic Incidents: January-June 2009 (London: CST, 2009),

23  Antisemitic Incidents Report 2008, Antisemitic Incidents: January-June 2009.

24  One sign of this discomfort has been a revisionary re-examination of the long history of Jews in England, overturning complacent views of Britain as a tolerant sanctuary; see Shalom Lappin, This Green and Pleasant Land: Britain and the Jews (Working Paper #2, The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism, 2008),

25  All three of these tendencies are repeatedly documented in the CST’s Antisemitic Incidents Report 2009. For instances of neo-Nazis feeling authorized by current events to unleash their hatred, see pp. 13, 17-19, 24, 29-30. Instances of schoolchildren adopting and acting on antisemitic opinions appear on pp. 13, 17, 20, and 29; and instances of an aggressive venting of anti-Israel feelings on the Jews at hand appear on pp. 14-18, 19, and 28.

26  The Report’s source for this estimate (to which the Inquiry was directed by Paul Iganski) is Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System—2004 (London: Home Office, 2005), p. 8; the Home Office’s estimate of total racist incidents comes from the annual British Crime Survey (discussed below).

27  By way of comparison, the sample size for national opinion polls in Canada is not usually larger than about 2,500 people, and the US 2004 presidential election national exit poll had a sample size of about 13,000. The BCS “has a high response rate (76%) and the survey is weighted to adjust for possible non-response bias and ensure the sample reflects the profile of the general population” (Jacqueline Hoare, “Extent and trends,” in Alison Walker, John Flatley, Chris Kershaw and Debbie Moon, eds., Crime in England and Wales 2008/09, Volume 1: Findings from the British Crime Survey and police recorded crime (London: Home Office Statistical Bulletin, 2009),, p. 13.

28  Walker et al., eds., Crime in England and Wales 2008/09, p. 4.

29  Hoare, in Walker et al., eds., Crime in England and Wales 2008/09, p. 15.

30  Walker et al., eds., p. 4.

31  Walker et al., eds., Crime in England and Wales 2008/09, Volume 1, p. 22.

32  Ibid., p. 27. As with racist incidents, police incident-report records capture only a fraction of the actual number of criminal offences.

33  “At-a-glance: Crime figures 2004,” BBC News (22 July 2004),

34  Walker et al., eds., Crime in England and Wales 2008/09, Volume 1, p. 27.

35  The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: Report of an Inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny (London: The Stationery Office, 1999),, chapters 4-6. (This is commonly referred to as the Macpherson Inquiry report.)

36  Ibid., ch. 45, paragraph 16; see Paul Iganski, “Too Few Jews to Count? Police Monitoring of Hate Crimes Against Jews in the United Kingdom,” American Behavioural Scientist 51.2 (2007): 232-45,, p. 233.

37  The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, ch. 45, paragraph 16.

38  The numbers are conveniently graphed by Iganski, “Too Few Jews,” Figure 1, p. 234. His sources for the data are Racial Violence and Harassment: A Consultation Document (London: Home Office, 1997), Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System (London: Home Office, 2000), and Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System—2004 (London: Home Office, 2005).

39  Here and in paragraph 43 the Report cites Paul Iganski, Vicky Kielinger and Susan Paterson, Hate Crimes Against London’s Jews: An Analysis of Incidents Recorded by the Metropolitan Police Service, 2001-2004 (London: Institute for Jewish Policy Research, 2005).

40  The Community Security Trust Antisemitic Incidents Report 2004 (London: CST, 2005),; “U.K. Government Charts Rise in ‘Antisocial Behavior Orders’,” Ethics Newsline (11 July 2005), Some legal experts have claimed that ASBOs are widely misused—being imposed, it has been argued, primarily on vulnerable people like the mentally ill, addicts, prostitutes, and beggars, who are then jailed for repeating behaviour that would not otherwise be punishable by imprisonment. See Matt Foot, “A triumph of hearsay and hysteria,” The Guardian (5 April 2005),

41  For details, see Norman Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (2nd paperback edition; New York: Verso, 2003), Appendix to the Second Paperback Edition, pp. 253-55.

42  Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System—2005 (London: Home Office, 2006),, p. viii.

43  According to 2001 UK census figures, 7.9 percent of the population, a total of 4,635,000 people, belonged to various minority groups (see “Population Size: 7.9% from a minority ethnic group,” Office for National Statistics, Assuming that minority populations continued to grow at the same rate as they did from 1991 to 2001, there would by 2008 have been about 5,760,000 Britons of minority ethnicity—of whom some 280,000, or nearly 5 percent, were Jews (see Robert Pigott, “Jewish population on the increase,” BBC News [21 May 2008],

44  We don’t know, for example, whether the same criteria were used in counting incidents, or whether the CST and Home Office figures capture a similar percentage of overall incidents. (The CST’s insistence on evidence of the perpetrator’s intention stands in contrast to the Home Office’s adoption of Macpherson’s definition of a racist incident.) The Home Office data I have cited comes only from England and Wales, while the CST data includes incidents from Scotland and Northern Ireland as well.

45  In arriving at this very approximate estimate, I am not assuming that the perpetrators of racially or religiously aggravated offences were invariably members of the 92 percent white majority. (Home Office data indicate that members of minority groups were perpetrators of a significant proportion of offences.)

46  These identifications are sometimes incorrect: a colleague of mine who was recently subjected to a torrent of antisemitic abuse by a carful of white racists in Toronto is, as it happens, of Scottish ancestry.

47  Vicky Kielinger and Susan Paterson, “Policing Hate Crime in London,” American Behavioural Scientist 51.2 (2007): 196-204; I have quoted from their abstract.

48  There is also a category of purported antisemitic incidents that have been exposed as outright fraud. For one flagrant and very publicly exposed example, see Stephen Brook, “Lord Alan Sugar ‘Muslim terror target’ story was wrong, admits Sun: Red-top admits error in January splash, which claimed leading British Jews were being targeted by Islamic extremists,” The Guardian (15 September 2009),; and Abul Taher, “Glen Jenvey, man behind Sun’s Sugar splash, arrested over religious hatred: Self-styled terror expert involved in Sun’s fabricated story about Islamic extremist hitlist held over incitement to religious hatred,” The Guardian (31 December 2009),

49  Laurent Mucchielli, “L’augmentation des violences interpersonnelles est infirmée par les enquêtes de victimation,” This note cites key data from the reports on Victimation et sentiment d’insécurité en Île-de-France (IAURIF, 2001 and 2009), and provides references to peer-reviewed research.

50  See Iganski, “Too Few Jews,” pp. 236-37, for a tabular comparison of police and CST figures from July 2004 to June 2005, and discussion of the extent of overlap. The British Home Office’s statistics on racially and religiously aggravated crimes that I have mentioned above do not distinguish among the various groups victimized by such crimes.

51  Martin Peretz, “Cambridge Diarist: Regrets,” New Republic (22 April 2002), p. 50; quoted in John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (2007; rpt. Toronto: Penguin, 2008), p. 188.

52  For a sample of press coverage of the dinner (which was attended by President Nicolas Sarkozy), see “Inquiétudes autour de l’antisémitisme en France au dîner du Crif,” (3 March 2009),

53  Tom Heneghan, “French faith leaders unite against Gaza backlash,” AlertNet (13 January 2009),

54  Robert Marquand, “Gaza drives a wedge in Paris imam’s dialogue with Jews,” Christian Science Monitor (28 January 2009), reproduced online at WorldWide Religious News (WWRN),

55  Erik J. Cohen, in The Jews of France at the Turn of the Third Millennium (Ramat Gan: Faculty of Jewish Studies, Bar Ilan University, 2009), notes that “The official French census, by law, does not record religious affiliation” (p. 31). Citing an earlier estimate of 600,000-700,000 for the number of French Jews, Cohen arrives, by three different survey methodologies, at estimates of the 2002 population ranging from 512,000 to 560,000; he settles, conservatively, on an estimate of “between 500,000 and 550,000 Jews” (pp. 35-37).

56  See “Le grand rabbin de France critique Benoît XVI,” Le Monde (31 January 2009), article/2009/01/31/les-propos-de-mgr-williamson-sont-abjects_1149025_3224.html. Attempts by Israeli propagandists to deflect blame for civilian deaths caused by Israeli attacks on medical facilities, schools and mosques have been rejected by human rights organizations which have studied the evidence.

57  When Jewish members of the principal French organization devoted to Muslim-Jewish friendship, Amitié Judéo-Musulmane de France (AJMF), remained silent in the face of mounting evidence of Israeli atrocities against Gaza civilians, their Muslim counterparts came to feel, in the bitter words of former co-president Djellout Seddiki, “that the dialogue is actually meaningless,” and resigned from the organization. See Hadi Yahmid, “Gaza Cracks France’s Muslim-Jews Ties,” (4 February 2009),

58  “French protest for murdered Jew,” BBC News (26 February 2006),; “La mobilisation à la mémoire d’Ilan Halimi a débuté,” (26 February 2006),

59  Michel Zlotowski, “Large memorial held for Parisian Jew,” Jerusalem Post (23 February 2006); for this reference, and for the BBC News item cited in note 31, I am indebted to Mearsheimer and Walt, The Israel Lobby, p. 414 n. 78. On the subject of Chirac’s and de Villepin’s attendance at the memorial service, see also Goel Pinto, “Forgive us our racism,” (16 May 2007),

60  Laurent Mucchielli, “Le ‘retour de l’antisémitisme’: discours rituel au dîner annuel du CRIF” (5 March 2009),, p. 2. Mucchielli is the author of five books and co-author, editor or co-editor of another nine, founder of the Revue d’histoire des sciences humaines, and recipient in 2006 of the Médaille de Bronze of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).

61  Ibid., pp. 3-5.

62  European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, Manifestations of Antisemitism in the EU 2002-2003 (April 2004),, pp. 104-05; quoted by Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), p. 76.

63  Matti Bunzl, Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia: Hatreds Old and New in Europe (Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press / University of Chicago Press, 2005), p. 4.

64  Islamic Human Rights Commission: January-December Annual Report 2007,, p. 17. The level of serious violent islamophobic incidents would seem to be no less alarming. In 2006, during the month of Ramadan alone there were two anti-Muslim firebombings (one preceded by multiple vandalism attacks, the other by death threats), a brutal attack on a Yorkshire Muslim schoolboy, the desecration of a South Wales mosque during prayers, and vandalism attacks in the parking lot of a Preston mosque, accompanied by the stabbing of a Muslim teenager. See

65  Bunzl, Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, p. 27.

66  Pew Research Center, A Year After Iraq War: Mistrust of America in Europe Ever Higher, Muslim Anger Persists. Summary of Findings (April 2004), p. 4; quoted by Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah, p. 76. A more recent Pew Research Center report, Unfavorable Views of Jews and Muslims on the Increase in Europe (17 September 2008),, is methodologically flawed. Respondents were asked whether they have “a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable opinion of Jews”—with no opportunity provided to distinguish between opinions of Jews and of Israel. It seems clear that the overwhelmingly negative responses in Lebanon (97 percent), Jordan (96 percent), and Egypt (95 percent) reflect hostility to Israel—as well as the fact, pointed out by Mohamed Elmasry in this book, that many Muslims still “use the term ‘yahood,’ i.e. Jews, to refer to Israelis.” A similar need for disambiguation may be evident also among the countries with the highest positive responses (France with 79 percent, the U.S. with 77 percent, and Britain with 73 percent). Their differing rates of negative responses (20 percent in France, and 7 and 9 percent in the U.S. and Britain, where 17 and 19 percent of respondents respectively expressed no opinion or refused to answer) could suggest either differing degrees of polarized opinion, or else different degrees of critical reaction to Israel among generally philosemitic populations.

67  Michael Whine, “Muslim-Jewish Interactions in Great Britain: Interview with Michael Whine,” Institute for Global Jewish Affairs No. 32 (15 May 2008),

68  Antisemitic Incidents Report 2007 (CST, 2008),, p. 12: “A physical description of the perpetrator was provided in 243 of the 547 incidents recorded by CST. Of these, 129 were white; 15 were East European; 27 were black; 52 were Asian and 14 were of Arab appearance.”

69  Ibid., p. 6. On this page and the next, the Antisemitic Incidents Report discusses the 114 incidents of physical attacks at length.

70  Iganski, Kielinger and Paterson found, in Hate Crimes Against London’s Jews, pp. 24-25, that in London police records from 2001 to 2004 “one in eight incidents reported were classified as ‘non-crime book’ incidents in that they did not appear to constitute a criminal offense” (quoted from Iganski, “Too Few Jews,” p. 242).

71  “IHRC on CST’s response to its briefing,” Islamic Human Rights Commission (6 July 2009), See also “BRIEFING: Concerns regarding demonisation of Islam and Muslims by Community Security Trust publications,” Islamic Human Rights Commission (19 May 2009),

72  Antisemitic incidents and threats to Jews arising from Gaza crisis (Privately circulated CST briefing paper, January 2009), available at

73  A Student’s Guide to Antisemitism on Campus: Recognising, Reacting to and Fighting Antisemitism (CST/Union of Jewish Students, 2009),, p. 22. (The explanations of the tropes of antisemitism are on pp. 12-18.)

74  Ibid., p. 25.

75  Ibid., pp. 39-40. The blood libel is implied by the statement on p. 40 that “The entire book is premised on the notion that Jews are traitors, shaping US foreign policy to serve Israel’s interest at the expense of America’s interests. The direct consequences of this include the 9/11 attacks and the war in Iraq. Not only are members of the lobby traitors, but also they have American blood on their hands.”

76  Philip Giraldi, “The Best Congress AIPAC Can Buy,” (3 September 2009),

77  AIPAC: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee: America’s Pro-Israel Lobby,

78  See the AIPAC-produced video, “AIPAC Policy Conference 2010,”

79  Antisemitic Incidents: January-June 2009 (CST, 2009),

80  Johann Hari, “Israel is suppressing a secret it must face,” The Independent (28 April 2008),

81  Hari mentions reports by Friends of the Earth and The Centre on Housing Rights. More recent confirmation of his statements is provided in Amnesty International’s report Troubled Waters—Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water (27 October 2009),, p. 69: “During four decades of occupation, the Israeli authorities have consistently failed to take even the most basic measures to provide effective sewage and waste treatment facilities in the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories]. [….] Israel has caused damage to the aquifer by establishing more than 200 unlawful Israeli settlements and ‘outposts’ in the West Bank and allowing them to discharge large quantities of untreated domestic and industrial sewage over the recharge area of the aquifer. In recent years, many of the settlements have been equipped with sewage treatment plants but others still discharge raw sewage and hazardous industrial waste into the fields and streams of the West Bank.” The problem is particularly acute in communities downstream of the unlawfully annexed East Jerusalem area, from which “[s]ome 17.5 MCM [millions of cubic metres] of sewage flow eastwards, mostly in open streams, causing environmental damage to the soil and water resources and posing a public health hazard for the Palestinian communities along the route” (p. 70).

82  Even without the threat of major pollution from the release of raw sewage from holding ponds, Gaza’s water supply situation amounts already to a humanitarian disaster. The Amnesty International report Troubled Waters notes that the water crisis in Gaza is caused in part by Israel’s damming and diversion of Wadi Gaza, which flows from the Hebron mountains in the West Bank, “just before it reaches Gaza.” As a result, the Palestinians in Gaza are extracting water from the Coastal Aquifer at twice its yearly sustainable yield, and there has been “a marked, progressive deterioration in the quality of the water supply, already contaminated by decades of sewage infiltration into the aquifer. Today some 90-95 percent of Gaza’s water is polluted and unfit for human consumption” (p. 11).

83  Hari, “Israel is suppressing a secret.”

84  Hari, “The loathsome smearing of Israel’s critics,” The Independent (8 May 2008),

85  Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2008 (CST, 2009),, p. 24 (italics in the original text).

86  Richard Goldstone et al., Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories: Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, paragraph 52 (p. 18). The Amnesty International report Troubled Waters gives a lower figure of “more than 100,000” cubic metres for the amount of wastewater-sewage sludge released by the Israeli airstrike (p. 59), while also mentioning that Israeli attacks on the Sheikh ‘Ajlin sewage treatment plant in central Gaza caused “raw sewage to inundate more than a square kilometer of agricultural and residential land” (p. 58).

87  Goldstone et al., Human Rights in Palestine, p. 18.

88  There is evidence that the denial of water to Palestinian populations in the West Bank and Gaza is indeed deliberate Israeli state policy. The Amnesty International report Troubled Waters documents a radically unfair allocation of shared water resources (pp. 9-29), systematic bureaucratic hindering of Palestinian water projects (pp. 29-35), the destruction of rainwater cisterns and confiscation of water tankers (pp. 36-45), denial of access by Palestinians to their land in the Western Aquifer (pp. 46-55), and attacks by the military and by Jewish settlers on water facilities (p. 56-65). The denial of water is clearly intended as “a means of expulsion”; see Amnesty International, Thirsting for Justice: Palestinian Access to Water Restricted (27 October 2009),, p. 5.

89  This trope occurs prominently in a play by Shakespeare’s contemporary Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta: the protagonist Barabas, having been thrown over the city wall like garbage while feigning death, promptly re-enters through the sewer, leading a force of Turks through “the common channels of the city” and effectively penetrating its entrails. See The Jew of Malta, V. i., in Christopher Marlowe: The Complete Plays, ed. Mark Thornton Burnett (London: Everyman, 1999), pp. 524-25.

90  It should be said, before moving on from British to Canadian publications, that the CST’s Antisemitic Incidents Report 2009, published in February 2010, goes some distance toward restoring one’s sense of the organization’s probity and good will. In contrast to some CST texts from 2009 that I have quoted, this report is calmly analytical, distinguishes scrupulously between anti-Israel and antisemitic statements and actions, avoids any hint of the smearing engaged in by some other CST publications, and indicates that care was taken not to include anti-Israel statements—even angry, aggressive, or provocative ones—in the category of antisemitic incidents (see pp. 26-27). Some of the distinctions applied in these pages in categorizing incidents may seem dubious—for example, that a graffiti like “Jihad 4 Israel” is antisemitic if daubed in a largely Jewish area, but not otherwise; or that any comparison of Israel or Zionism with Nazi Germany is automatically antisemitic, because of “its visceral capacity to offend Jews.” (By that standard, the speech of Sir Gerald Kaufman in the House of Commons on January 15, 2009, quoted by Edward Corrigan in this book, would be antisemitic.) The report deserves credit for making such matters explicit and giving some indication of the numbers added to the incident count as a result.

91  Ruth Klein and Anita Bromberg, 2007 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents: Patterns of Prejudice in Canada (Toronto: League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada, 2008),, p. 2.

92  Ibid. The UK figures quoted here are slightly lower than those I have quoted earlier in this chapter; the Audit quotes figures from the CST’s annual reports, while I have quoted the CST’s later, revised figures.

93  Ruth Klein and Anita Bromberg, 2008 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents: Patterns of Prejudice in Canada (Toronto: League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada, 2009),, p. 23.

94  2008 Audit, p. 6. In other recent B’nai Brith Audits, it should be noted, the number of antisemitic assaults reported was higher: 30 in 2006, and 28 in 2007, before falling to 14 in 2008.

95  Antisemitic Incidents Report 2008 (London: CST, 2009),, p. 4.

96  See “B’nai Brith Canada applauds Government for standing firm on Hamas,” B’nai Brith Canada (29 March 2006), (an attack on UNRWA); “Jewish, Christian leaders denounce United Church Toronto anti-Israel boycott—Call on Government to suspend CIDA funding to KAIROS,” B’nai Brith Canada (28 June 2006), (the Christian leader in question is the right-wing fundamentalist Charles McVety); “‘Pro-terror sympathies undermine respect for Canadian law,’ says B’nai Brith Canada,” B’nai Brith Canada (15 August 2006), (one of several attacks on CAF as antisemitic and pro-terrorist); and “B’nai Brith Canada applauds Harper government for redirection of aid from UNRWA to specific projects,” B’nai Brith Canada (13 January 2010),

97  “‘McGuinty Government should impose conditions on its funding to Ontario Universities,’ says B’nai Brith Canada,” B’nai Brith Canada (27 March 2009),

98  See “B’nai Brith Denies Reality of Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Attempts to Silence Free Speech and Shutdown [sic] Academic Research,” The Canadian Islamic Congress (4 March 2008),

99  “‘Britain should look at the lessons of history and the realities of today,’ says B’nai Brith following PM Brown’s speech to Israel’s Knesset,” B’nai Brith Canada (21 July 2008),

100  Antisemitic Incidents Report 2008 (London: CST, 2009),, p. 4: “In addition to the 541 antisemitic incidents recorded by CST in 2008, a further 347 reports of potential incidents were received by CST, but not included in the total number of antisemitic incidents as there was no evidence of antisemitic motivation, targeting or content.”

101  Klein and Bromberg, 2007 Audit, p. 1.

102  Klein and Bromberg, 2008 Audit, p. 1.

103  Ibid., pp. 1-2.

104  Ibid., p. 2.

105  Jonathan Kay, “B’nai Brith compares Vancouver’s treatment of female ski jumpers to Nazi policies of 1936,” National Post (6 January 2010), -kay-b-nai-brith-compares-vancouver-s-treatment-of-female-ski-jumpers-to-nazi-policies-of-1936,aspx.

106  Mordecai Briemberg, “New Opportunities in Organizing against Occupation,” Upping the Anti: a journal of theory and action 2 (January 2006), p. 104.

107  For one of the bar graphs that Jonathan Kay speaks of with such scorn, see Klein and Bromberg, 2007 Audit, p. 3.

108  Juristat: Hate Crime in Canada 2001-2002 (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2004),, p. 8.

109  Mia Dauvergne, Katie Scrim and Shannon Brennan, Hate Crime in Canada 2006 (Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada, 2008),

110  Ibid., p. 11, p. 9.

111  The police forces participating in the Pilot Survey were those of Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Sudbury, Waterloo, the Halton Region, Windsor, Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary, and the RCMP.

112  The calculation is simple: taking one-half of 229 (the figure for the years 2001 and 2002) and increasing that half by 15 percent, we get 133; increasing it by 17 percent, we get 135.

113  See Philip Walsh and Mia Dauvergne, Juristat: Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2007 (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, May 2009),, p. 12; see also “Police-reported hate crime,” The Daily (13 May 2009),

114  See A Profile of Criminal Victimization: Results of the 1999 General Social Survey (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2001),; and General Social Survey on Victimization, Cycle 18: An Overview of Findings: 2004 (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2005), The 2004 GSS does indicate that 3 percent of all criminal incidents “were believed by victims to have been motivated by hate” (see Hate Crime in Canada 2006, p. 6). The findings of the 2009 GSS, which also dealt with victimization, have not yet been published. GSS themes in other years have been such subjects as Family, Time use, Social support and aging, and Social engagement.

115  Toronto Police Service Hate Crime Unit Intelligence Division, 2008 Annual Hate/Bias Crime Statistical Report, p. 17; 2007 Annual Hate/Bias Crime Statistical Report,, p. 15.

116  Brian Gray, “Toronto sees large jump in hate crimes,
Toronto Sun (20 May 2009),

117  These figures are from p. 15 of the 2007 report, and p. 17 of the 2008 report.

118  Gray, “Toronto sees large jump in hate crimes.”

119  The Honourable Roy McMurtry and Dr. Alvin Curling, The Review of the Roots of Youth Violence, Volume 1: Findings, Analysis and Conclusions (Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2008),, p. 381.