'Media to blame' as anti-Semitic attacks rise

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The Independent Online

A sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Britain last year has been blamed by a senior Israeli cabinet minister partly on "incitement" by the UK media - including The Independent.

A sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Britain last year has been blamed by a senior Israeli cabinet minister partly on "incitement" by the UK media - including The Independent.

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain rose from 163 in 2003 to 310, according to a report by the Global Forum Against Anti-Semitism, which is partly run under the auspices of the office of the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon. The report said the number of violent incidents had risen from 55 to 77.

The report said most of the incidents occurred in or near synagogues, some of which were targets of actual or attempted arson. Street assaults included the throwing of a Molotov cocktail at the car of a London rabbi. In the past four years, there have been 100 incidents of synagogues being desecrated

The report cited "years of hostile reporting and commentary in the British press" - apparently on the Israeli conflict with the Palestinians - as a cause of the steep rise. It also noted a sharp increase in Russia and the Ukraine.

At a weekend news conference to launch the report, the Diaspora Affairs minister, Natan Sharansky, said: "It is impossible to ignore the incitement in the British media against Israel ... when the British Independent publishes a caricature of Sharon eating Palestinian children, we need not be surprised at the results."

A complaint to the Press Complaints Commission against the cartoon, published in 2003, was not upheld. The cartoon, by Dave Brown, was later named as political cartoon of the year by the Political Cartoonists' Society.

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