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Global Anti-Semitism:
Selected Incidents Around the World in 2003

Argentina

September 20 - 21, 2003 - Santa Fe - Vandals desecrated 19 tombstones in the Jewish cemetery of Santa Fe. Local representatives of the Argentinean Jewish umbrella organization DAIA said the incident was clearly anti-Semitic.

Australia

August 4, 2003 - Sydney – The walls of the Liverpool Regional Museum were sprayed with anti-Semitic and racist slogans and covered with swastikas, posters and stickers. Fliers from two extremist groups left at the scene – the White Power Coalition and the National Salvation Front of Australia – made reference to “the white resistance” and carried a skull and crossbones with the message, “Death to Israel.” The museum was hosting “Courage to Care,” an exhibition about Australian survivors of the Holocaust.

Austria

May 10, 2003 – Vienna – A rabbi was physically assaulted by two youths as he was walking home from prayer in eastern Vienna. After shouting anti-Semitic slurs, the youths kicked the victim and struck his head with a beer bottle. According to the Austrian Anti-Terrorism Bureau for Protection of the Constitution, the suspects were in custody with charges pending.

Belarus

October 14, 2003 – Lida – Vandals desecrated a Holocaust memorial in the town of Lida, 95 miles to the west of the capital Minsk. Cans of paint were smashed and several anti-Jewish slogans were scrawled on the monument that was built a month and half earlier in memory of several dozen Jews who were slain at the site during World War II.

August 27, 2003 – Minsk – A synagogue in the Belarusian capital was set on fire by unidentified assailants who doused the building’s main entrance with kerosene. Firefighters managed to save the edifice, but its façade was damaged, according to Yuri Dorn, President of the Jewish Religious Union of Belarus. The attack was the fifth attempt to burn the synagogue over the last two years.

May 26, 2003 – Minsk – Vandals desecrated a memorial to the thousands of Jews slain in Minsk during the Holocaust. The vandals scrawled swastikas, Nazi slogans and anti-Jewish threats on plaques at the Yama memorial, which marks the site of the ghetto where more than 100,000 Jews were exterminated by Nazi troops during World War II.

Belgium

June 13, 2003 – Charleroi – A 32-year-old man of Moroccan descent attempted to explode a vehicle loaded with gas canisters in front of a synagogue. He was arrested by police shortly after the incident. The man reportedly set his own car on fire, but it did not explode. Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt condemned the attempted attack but said he saw no need to raise security around Jewish buildings and institutions. In April 2002, the same synagogue, situated on the edge of the city, was hit by gunfire from unknown assailants

Czech Republic

November 9, 2003 - Krupka - Vandals damaged a monument in honor of Nazi death march victims in Krupka, North Bohemia, and defaced the memorial with painted Nazi symbols. Police detained two young men in connection with the incident.

November 9, 2003 - Trutnov - Unknown perpetrators overturned 15 tombstones of Jewish girls who perished in a Nazi concentration camp in Trutnov. The police are investigating the incident as a racially motivated crime.

France

December 2, 2003 - Paris - An 11-year-old Jewish student was subject to repeated verbal and physical assaults at a secondary school by two Muslim pupils in his class. The students reportedly yelled, "We'll finish Hitler's job" during one of the episodes.

November 24, 2003 -- Marseille -- Swastikas and racist slogans were scrawled on about a dozen tombs in the Jewish cemetery of Trois Lucs. The cemetery was the scene of similar anti-Semitic attacks in 2001, when graffiti demanding the liberation of convinced Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon were scrawled on several tombs.

October 17, 2003 -- Paris -- A rabbi was verbally attacked and physically assaulted in a Paris suburb. On the way to the synagogue, several men pushed the rabbi and punched him in the face. Police have arrested two men in connection with the incident, which was described as anti-Semitic in nature.

July 25, 2003 – Paris – A synagogue in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis was ransacked and desecrated with anti-Semitic graffiti. Prayer books were scattered on the floor, the Torah scrolls opened and money was stolen. “Juif=mort” (Jew = death) was scrawled on an outside wall.

July 20, 2003 – Venissieux – Two plaques at a Holocaust memorial were defaced and broken. The plaques mark the site of a transit camp where hundreds of Jews from the Lyon region were rounded up before being sent to Nazi death camps in August 1942.

March 22, 2003 – Paris – A number of Jews, including teenagers, were chased and attacked by anti-war protesters outside the headquarters of a Jewish youth organization. The protesters were described by witnesses as “wearing kaffiyahs.” One teenage boy was hospitalized for injuries he sustained while being beaten by demonstrators.

Germany

November 17, 2003 -- Berlin -- Vandals defaced wreaths laid at a Holocaust memorial to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Four wreaths were thrown over the side of a bridge and others defaced, with flowers torn out and ribbons cut.

October 15, 2003 -- Beeskow -- A Jewish cemetery in the city of Beeskow, east of Berlin, was desecrated by vandals who painted swastikas and anti-Semitic statements such as "you got what you deserved," "Heil Hitler" and "crap on the six million lie" on gravestones.

October 11 - 12, 2003 -- Gundesberg -- Vandals desecrated a Jewish cemetery in the central German city. Police said Nazi slogans and other graffiti was spray painted on 42 headstones and the cemetery gate.

October 11 - 12, 2003 -- Ravensbrueck -- A memorial to the victims of the World War II concentration camp near the northeastern city was defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti.

August 15, 2003 – Kassel – More than 50 graves were vandalized at a historic Jewish cemetery in the central German city of Kassel. Some gravestones were overturned, while others had headstones weighing up to 2,000 pounds toppled on them. Police were investigating.

July 28, 2003 – Saxony-Anhalt – Vandals defaced a memorial to Nazi victims of a Buchenwald subcamp, plastering the buildings with anti-Semitic newspapers. Visitors to the Langenstein-Zwieberge memorial reported the damage to the police, who said that the perpetrators had used copies of anti-Jewish newspapers from 1933 to 1945, the years the Nazis ruled Germany.

July 8, 2003 – Berlin – A Jewish memorial in Berlin was vandalized. The vandals apparently threw small paving stones, gouging the surface of a memorial dedicated to the former Levetzowstrasse synagogue, which was used by the Nazis as detention center to deport Jews. According to the police, the incident took place in broad daylight, but the perpetrators escaped before they could be arrested.

June 27, 2003 – Berlin – A 14-year-old girl wearing a Star of David necklace was attacked by a group of teenage girls on a bus in the German capital. According to reports, the group first insulted the girl because of her religion and her Ukrainian nationality and subsequently hit and kicked her, injuring her slightly. Police were investigating.

May 14, 2003 – Berlin – A 19-year-old Orthodox Jew from the U.S. was beaten by a group of youths believed to be Arabs. The youths followed the victim, a student whose faith was easily recognizable due to his hat and beard, out of the subway throwing fruit at him and demanding to know if he was a Jew. When the victim refused to answer, they beat him with their fists.

May 11, 2003 – Berlin -- A man wearing a Star of David pendant was attacked by a group of teenagers who spat at him, kicked him in the face and shouted anti-Semitic slurs. The 56-year old man, who told police he was not Jewish, was riding a bus when the assault occurred. The attackers, identified as foreign youths, fled the scene.

April 29, 2003 – Ravensbrueck – Vandals smeared paint on the tablet at the former Ravensbrueck concentration camp in northern Germany. The tablet, erected last year by camp survivors, commemorates female inmates who were forced to build an access road using primitive equipment and their bare hands during World War II. Police were investigating the incident.

March 23, 2003 - Berlin - A 21-year-old American rabbinical student, in traditional Orthodox dress, was assaulted on Berlin's main shopping boulevard in an attack described by police as anti-Semitic. The student was struck in the face and an object was thrown at him, but he was otherwise unhurt. The assailants were described as Middle Eastern in appearance.

Greece

October 10, 2003 – Ioannina - Vandals desecrated a memorial dedicated to the thousands of Greek Jews who perished during the Holocaust, located in a 13th century Jewish cemetery, with slogans such as "Death to Jews" and "Jews Out." ADL called on the Greek government to condemn the attacks and prosecute the perpetrators.

August 4, 2003 – Ioannina – Vandals sprayed swastikas and Greek nationalistic slogans on the outer walls of a synagogue. The town’s Jewish community condemned the attack and urged the police to investigate.

February 1, 2003 -- Thessaloniki (Salonica) – Two swastikas were spray painted on a Holocaust memorial. The memorial honoring the tens of thousands of Salonican Jews killed by the Nazis has been vandalized before.

Italy

March 9, 2003 – Milan – Anti-Semitic graffiti appeared on the office of the RAI, the Italian state-owned radio and television network, after a journalist of Jewish origin was named director. The graffiti read "RAI for Italians, no to Jews." The messages were condemned by political and popular figures.

Malaysia

October 16, 2003 -- In a virulently anti-Semitic speech to the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad asserted that "Jews rule the world by proxy" and called on the world's 1.3 billion Muslims to achieve a "final victory" against Jews. The speech drew a standing ovation from the assembly, but was strongly condemned by Western leaders, including U.S. President George W. Bush and members of the European Union.

June 21, 2003 -- Kuala Lumpur -- Copies of “The International Jew,” an anti-Semitic book originally published by the industrialist Henry Ford Sr., were distributed to delegates at a party gathering of the United Malays National Organization, where outgoing Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad delivered his final speech as party president to tens of thousands of Muslim Malays. Later, at a press conference, Mohamad claimed he was “not responsible for the distribution.” It was not the first time there has been anti-Semitism in this country that has no Jews.

Morocco

September 11, 2003 -- Casablanca -- Albert Rebibo, a 55-year-old Jewish timber merchant, was shot dead in Casablanca's "Korea" district as he was closing his shop at noon. It is believed that the murder was an act of terrorism. Police arrested 12 Islamic activists days later. Media coverage attributed the attack to the anniversary of 9/11, while others claimed the killing was connected to the visit of Silvan Shalom, Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was received in Rabat a week prior to the attack.

Poland

December 10, 2003 - Oswiecim - Vandals overturned 16 tombstones at a historic Jewish cemetery in Oswiecim, near the site of the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz. The vandals threw a large box filled with sand over the cemetery wall, and topped headstones. One of the tombstones was destroyed.

Russia

September 2, 2003 – Novgorod – An object resembling a bomb with an anti-Semitic slogan attached was found at a local synagogue in Novgorod, 400 miles northwest from Moscow. The “bomb” was determined to be a fake when no explosives were found.

June 28, 2003 – Pyatigorsk – On the last weekend in June, a Jewish cemetery in the town of Pyatigorsk, in the North Caucasus, was desecrated. Vandals smashed 10 tombstones, including those of Russian World War II soldiers. It is the only Jewish cemetery in the multi-ethnic Stavropol Region.

June 22, 2003 – Yaroslavl – Windows were shattered and anti-Semitic graffiti painted on a synagogue in Yaroslavl, a town 300 miles northeast of Moscow. No one was injured in the incident. The police were investigating.

April 2, 2003 - Makhachkala - Vandals smashed ten graves in the Jewish section of the city's Old Cemetery. According to the deputy interior minister of the republic of Dagestan, marble plaques and monuments had been shattered. There were no suspects.

Slovakia

November 19, 2003 -- Humenne -- Vandals painted swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans on tombstones in a Jewish cemetery in the city of Humenne in eastern Slovakia. Police are investigating.

October 20 - 26, 2003 - Nove Mesto nad Vahom - Unidentified vandals knocked over and damaged 19 tombstones in the Jewish cemetery of Nove Mesto nad Vahom in western Slovakia. Police said the vandals broke into the cemetery on two seperate occasions.

January 21, 2003 – Banovce nad Bedravou - A 19th-century Jewish cemetery was desecrated in the western Slovak town of Banovce nad Bedravou, about 100 kilometers northeast of the capital, Bratislava. Thirty-five tombstones were toppled and vandals drew a swastika in the snow by the gate to the cemetery.

Sweden

April 27, 2003 – Malmö – Unknown assailants attempted to set fire to the purification room in the Jewish cemetery in Malmö. The attackers threw firebombs into the building, but the structure was still standing. It was the eighth time the purification room at the cemetery has come under attack

Turkey

August 21, 2003 – Istanbul - Yosef Yahya, a 35-year-old dentist, was discovered dead in his clinic. The murder was apprehended in March 2004 and admitted that he had killed Yahya out of anti-Semitic motivations.

November 15, 2003 - Istanbul – Truck bombings at two synagogues killed 25 people and wounded more than 300. The near-simultaneous bombings of the Neve Shalom and Beth Israel synagogues targeted Jews during Sabbath prayers. Turkish officials are investigating claims that an obscure terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda was involved.

United Kingdom

November 23, 2003 - London - The windows of the Orthodox Edgware Synagogue had its windows broken in an assault police described as a hate crime. The synagogue was attacked with bricks after congregants had left at the end of the Sabbath.

November 21, 2003 - Medway - All 21 headstones in the Jewish section of Chatham municipal cemetery in Medway, Kent, were vandalized. Only the Jewish section of the graveyard was targeted, authorities said.

November 7, 2003 -- Manchester -- The Hillock Hebrew Congregation synagogue in Whitefield, near Manchester, was severely damaged in an arson attack. A fire service spokesman was quoted as saying that the blaze was deliberately set.

August 5, 2003 - Manchester - Vandals smashed and toppled 20 headstones in an attack at a Jewish cemetery in Prestwich, in Greater Manchester. Police are treating the incident at Rainsough Hebrew Burial Ground as a racially motivated. The cemetery has been targeted in the past.

July 8, 2003 – Southampton -- Eleven tombstones in the Jewish section of the Hollybrook cemetery were desecrated with Nazi slogans and swastikas. Six others were toppled. A spokesman for the Community Security Trust, which provides security and defense advice for the Jewish community across Britain, said it was the second attack on Jewish graves in Southampton in seven months. Police were investigating.

May 15, 2003 – London – Police discovered the desecration of 386 Jewish graves at the Plashet Cemetery in East Ham. The gravestones had been pushed over. Police are treating the incident as a racially motivated attack. In addition to three youths, all under 17 and who were subsequently released on bail, four more youths have been arrested and were being held in custody.

Selected Anti-Semitic Incidents Around the World in 2002

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Anti-Semitism in Europe
European Attitudes Toward Jews, Israel and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, 361 Kb.
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Selected Questions and Responses about Anti-Semitic Stereotypes
(ADL Survey May-June 2002)
Resurgence of Global Anti-Semitism
ADL Open Letter to the Nations of Europe
Trends in Anti-Semitism
in the U.S.
Previous Audits
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  • ADL 2002 Survey on
    Anti-Semitism in the U.S.
    Summary of Major Findings!

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    ADL Survey: Anti-Semitism in America (2002) (.pdf 431Kb)
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