Is Islamic extremism global threat to Jews

NEW YORK — Anti-Semitism rooted in radical Islam poses an increasing threat to Jewish security worldwide, according to a newly released analysis of global anti-Jewish bias.

The report, titled "Antisemitism: World Report 1995," was published jointly on Wednesday by the London-based Institute for Jewish Affairs and the American Jewish Committee, which is based in New York.

The analysis reports that the climate for Jews deteriorated over the past few years in several countries — including Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey — and improved in others — including Hungary, Mexico and Sweden.

But in most nations of the world, the level of acceptance or hatred of Jews has remained fairly stable, though for some nations there is too little data available to provide a comparison, according to the report.

In Europe and the states of the former Soviet Union, there is also concern about the mainstreaming of far-right political parties, resulting in "a kind of yuppie fascism," said David Singer, AJCommittee's director of research and editorial consultant for the study.

The 300-page book covers anti-Semitic incidents and trends in 61 countries, from Argentina — where last July's bombing of the Jewish community's central building resulted in the deaths of 99 people — to the United Arab Emirates.

Each chapter includes basic demographic data about a nation's general and Jewish populations (there are an estimated 10 Jews in the Philippines, 20 in Bahrain, 60 in Namibia and 1,000 in Norway), a brief overview of the current political scene, the history of the general population's relationship with its Jews, a snapshot of the effects of anti-Semitism and recent steps taken to counter hatred of Jews.

Singer said the most important trend documented in the report is the threat that radical Islam poses to Jewish security worldwide.

The Jewish world needs to take this threat more seriously, he said, noting that the dangers posed by radical Islam used to be cloaked as anti-Zionism. No longer. "Now we are talking about plain, raw anti-Semitism, hostility to Jews everywhere and anywhere based on an Islamic outlook."

According to the report, anti-Semitic and xenophobic rhetoric is being used by Islamic movements in Algeria, Egypt and Jordan.

In Western countries, meanwhile, Islamic groups such as England's Hizb al-Tahrir have stepped up their propaganda offensive, including calls for the murder of Jews.

Perhaps the most concrete and damaging manifestation of Islamic radicalism in the Western world was the bombing of the AMIA building last July in Buenos Aires. The attack is believed to be the work of Muslim fundamentalists, though no one has been charged.

That same week, the Muslim fundamentalists car-bombed the Israeli Embassy and offices of the Joint Israel Appeal in London.

The rhetoric articulated by like-minded fundamentalists characterizes Jews as "in control of everything, including the media, and the source of all the problems the Islamic world faces," Singer said.

"It is a demonization of the Jews, a full-fledged conspiracy theory which has shown a very strong propensity for violence," he said. "This then makes any Jewish institution a potential target."

In many cases, Singer noted, terrorists "are not being exported from the Middle East, but in many of these countries you are talking about large native Islamic populations where there is a very pronounced anti-Semitism."

In Great Britain, the concern is so great that at a daylong conference devoted to "Anti-Semitism in the Contemporary Islamic World" in London last March, several participants, including non-Jewish scholars, did not want their names printed on the program for fear of being targeted by Muslim fundamentalists.

The conference was sponsored by the AJCommittee and the Institute of Jewish Affairs, which works in partnership with AJCommittee.

Singer said American Jews do not appreciate the degree to which radical Islam may threaten them.

"There is a kind of lag here," he said. "While American Jews are aware of incidents, they don't tend to think of this as a full-fledged trend, though it is clearly visible on the European scene.

"It is a rising phenomenon with direct implications in the U.S. and significant potential [for harm] in the U.S.," he said.

Although American Jewry is well aware of anti-Semitism in the black community and is concerned as well about the Christian right, he added, "within the Jewish community there is not yet the realization that radical Islam is something distinct which requires very serious attention."

As increasing evidence of Islamic fundamentalist activity in the United States emerges, Singer said, Islamic anti-Semitism "as a distinctive strand" will take on greater saliency.