White men blamed as attacks on Jews rise

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The Independent Online

Attacks on Jews have increased in five European countries, including France and the United Kingdom, according to an EU report which blamed the rise on young white men.

The document, published by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, contrasted with findings from a study last year which identified Arabs and Muslims as the main perpetrators of anti-Semitism.

Yesterday's report singled out Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Britain and Germany as the countries with the worst problems, adding that the largest group of offenders appeared to be "young, disaffected white Europeans".

The document added: "A further source of anti-Semitism in some countries was young Muslims of North African or Asian extraction. Traditionally anti-Semitic groups on the extreme right played a part in stirring opinion."

The largest rise in anti-Semitic violence was in France, where incidents rose six-fold in 2002 compared with 2001. Of the 313 racist, xenophobic or anti-Semitic incidents reported in 2002, 193 were directed at the Jewish community.

In the UK, statistics showed 350 reported anti-Semitic incidents in 2002, a 13 per cent rise from the previous year. Figures for the first quarter of 2003 showed a 75 per cent increase in incidents compared with the same quarter of 2002.

Last year's study provoked a bitter row when Jewish organisations accused the European Commission of anti-Semitism. They claimed that the work was initially suppressed because it singled out Muslim immigrants.

Cobi Benatoff, the president of the European Jewish Congress, noted the difference in emphasis in the two reports on who was behind the violence, but welcomed the broader findings of the latest document. He said: "The report is confirmation of exactly what we, Jewish citizens, feel: that the old cancer is back."