Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Red Flag Over Britain

Natan Sharansky, the Israeli cabinet minister responsible for the diaspora, has warned that violent attacks on Jews in Britain - which have increased by almost half during the past year - are being encouraged by a general climate of anti-Semitism in the British press. A Guardian report quotes Sharansky as saying that the violence has stemmed from "years of hostile reporting and commentary about Israel in the British press now spilling into the streets."
His officials singled out the Guardian and the BBC, accusing them of "likening Israel to a Nazi state". The Independent was also criticised.

David Weinberg, coordinator of the forum and an adviser to Mr Sharansky, said the report found that most acts of anti-semitism in Britain were carried out by Arabs or Muslims, but press coverage of Israel, and the actions of some politicians created a climate that encouraged such attacks.

"Among west European countries there is a red flag flying over Britain and it's particularly disturbing because Britain is a country friendly to Israel and the British government takes anti-semitism seriously."

He added: "Sharansky believes you have to look at the intellectual environment that has developed toward Israel in Britain and the effect that has on the broader public."

He singled out the coverage of the Israeli army assault on Jenin refugee camp in 2002, in which 58 Palestinians were killed, mostly armed men.

The attack was characterised as a "massacre" by some of the media. He said this was demonisation of Israel and anti-semitism.

Tehila Nahalon, an adviser to Mr Sharansky on anti-semitism, said: "You can't brainwash people for four years that Israel is an illegitimate country and that Israelis are like the Nazis and that Israelis are monsters and expect that nothing will happen to Jews."

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