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Thursday, November 27, 2003


"It can be concluded that the anti-Semitic incidents in the monitoring period were
committed above all by right-wing extremists and radical Islamists or young Muslims."
Haaretz: LONDON - European Parliament officials have slammed a decision by The European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) not to publish its comprehensive study of the causes of anti-Semitism in Europe.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a leader of the Greens Party in the European Parliament on Tuesday strongly denounced the EUMC for shelving the report. "The completely mad thing is that they didn't want to continue because they were afraid to offend a certain Muslim opinion in Europe," he told Israel Radio. "This is a completely crazy and wrong approach."

Cohn-Bendit, a leader of the French student left in the late 1960s, is currently on a visit to Israel. He said the decision to shelve the study was a "big, big, error" and that his party would question the move in the European Parliament at the first opportunity. "There is a danger of anti-Semitism in Europe, there is a danger of racism in Europe - both - and we must confront this reality, and we can't now postpone the debate on this," Cohn-Bendit said.

The report on anti-Semitism in Europe was shelved by the EU's racism watchdog after it found that Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups were behind many of the incidents, the London-based Financial Times reported last week.

Haaretz has learned that the EUMC plans to meet today in Vienna to discuss the outrage over it decision. Senior sources in the European Commission say that they have ordered a new study of anti-Semitism, one which will include interviews with the leaders of Jewish communities in Europe. It is due out in March 2004.

The sources however rejected claims by Professor Werner Bergmann, one of the co-leaders of the study, that the EU "buried the report for fear that it could spark a civil war. The EU maintains that the report was tainted by anti-Muslim bias and the use of inappropriate research methods. "I think that the European Union buried the research out of fear of civil war, and from excessive political correctness," the top German sociologist told Haaretz.

The Financial Times reported that the EUMC decided not to publish the research after clashing with its authors over their definition of anti-Semitism, which included anti-Israel facts. The sources told Haaretz that "the decision not to accept the report was taken by the 18 members of the Management Board of the EUMC all of whom are eminent academics, researchers and campaigners in the field of anti-Semitism and xenophobia." They said the decision was made due to the "poor quality" of the study.

Bergmann said in response yesterday that "They say that the we have done a bad job, but we alerted them in advance about the difficulties and we said that some reports are not very good and some were excellent. But the EUMC said, 'okay, we know it, please improve the research,' and so we spent many months to fill all the gaps, especially for some countries. We put a lot of new material which was way beyond our original role."

Bergmann's partner in conducting the study, Professor Wolfgang Benz, termed the EUMC's grounds for rejecting the study "absolutely ridiculous. From our standpoint it verges on slander."

The report was commissioned by the EUMC following a peak in anti-Semitic activity in early 2002. Its leaked findings come just a week after the arson attack on a Jewish school near Paris and suicide attacks on two Istanbul synagogues.

A deputy board member not named by the paper confirmed that the directors of the EUMC had regarded the study as biased, adding that they had judged the focus on Muslim and pro-Palestinian perpetrators to be inflammatory.

An extract from the report obtained by the Financial Times stated: "It can be concluded that the anti-Semitic incidents in the monitoring period were committed above all by right-wing extremists and radical Islamists or young Muslims."

"The decision not to publish was a political decision," a source familiar with the report told the Financial Times. He said the report had uncovered a "trend towards Muslim anti-Semitism, while on the left there is also mobilization against Israel that is not always free of prejudice."

Beate Winkler, EUMC director, told the paper the report was shelved because of problems with time scales but also due to the overly complicated definition of anti-Semitism. "Of course there are people of Arab descent committing such acts. This will be represented in our next report," she added.

Bergmann said of the EU panel: "It was very difficult for them to accept the conclusions" of the report. "They asked us again and again to re-write the drafts, to soften the conclusions, to balance the arguments."