NEWS - Archive March 2013

Headlines 29 March, 2013

Gay Activist Attacked By Russian Neo-Nazi As City Frustrates Pride Rally

29/3/2013- Even as the city council was frustrating his efforts to hold a Pride rally, a gay activist in the city of Syktyvkar, Russia, was brutally assaulted by a neo-Nazi activist. Artem Kalinin, who was trying to get clearance to hold a Pride parade in downtown Syktyvkar on Sunday, was being interviewed by a TV station when he was assaulted by Alex Kolegov, leader of a local neo-Nazi group. Gay Star News reports Kalinin reported the assault to police, but that Kolegov was not arrested. Brusied but not beaten, Kalinin said the rally will go on as planned. Bowing to complaints from conservatives and religious groups, Mayor Ivan Pozdeyev denied Kalinin’s request to hold the demonstration in the center of the city—instead allowing it in a less central spot. Pozdeyev has a plan to prevent future conflict: he’s asked lawmakers to draft new legislation banning future Pride rallies.

Sadly, this isn’t Kalinin’s brush with homophobic violence. In March 2011, he was attacked during the city’s Week Against Homophobia:
I felt a sudden punch on my head, from which I began to lose coordination. Blood gushed out of my head, leaking on my whole neck and the collar of the jacket. We began to fight, he began to hit an unknown object all over my body as I realized later, it was a stick with an iron knob. As always, the neighbors did not hear anything and did not see the floor of my porch was covered with splashes of blood. During the scuffle I was able to escape… Perhaps because of the ice-covered ground, I fell. The assailant chased me from the door of my house, made a punch in my face and head area, the stick in the hands of the assailant at the moment I have not noticed. I decided to reason the attacker and turned to him with the words: “Come on, calm down …” In response, I heard a familiar: “You’re a fag, I always wanted to kill you! If you want, I’ll kill you, I don’t care… “.

Also from his words, I realized that he had “a friend in police, who offered us to help trace you down, they won’t charge me for this”. Of course, I realized that the attacker knows nothing about criminal charges, feeling his full impunity. I was lying on the cold snow, the guy went methodically to offend me by applying successive kicks to the body. At this point, a couple of young people were walking on the sidewalk who have done nothing to call for help or to have at least some resistance to the attacker. After some time, the police crew arrived which I called earlier. Most of all I was struck by the reaction of these employees have taken the side of my abuser. The assailant went on to explain that I was “fag, there’s no need for him to get acquainted with the guys” and then asked the law enforcement officials: “Fags are not jailed nowadays?”

So the next time you think you’re too hung over to go to Pride, remember some people are risking their safety just to affirm their very existence.
© Queerty

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Letter sent to French chief rabbi threatens Jewish journalists

29/3/2013- The chief rabbi of France received a letter from an obscure organization warning of “brutal actions” against French Jewish journalists. “Before we take brutal measures, the only ones at our disposal, we approach you because those corrupt journalists are Jewish,” read the letter sent recently to Rabbi Gilles Bernheim in Paris. It was signed by a hitherto unknown organization called IFO, a French acronym for Interaction of Forces of Order, the Metro daily reported Thursday. The letter said the journalists were acting as communist agents and attempting to “curb liberty in France.” Those behind IFO also sent a death threat this week to Jean-Michel Gentil, the judge who ordered a criminal investigation of the actions of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy is accused of illicitly obtaining funds from the billionaire Liliane Bettencourt. Separately, unidentified individuals carved five swastikas on Tuesday onto the wooden doors of a synagogue in Haguenau, in eastern France. A representative of the city’s Jewish community reported the incident to police.
© JTA News

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Spreading Racism via Facebook

Heavy Facebook users are more likely than those who log on occasionally to react positively to racist remarks.
By Tom Jacobs

29/3/2013- Is Facebook a particularly powerful medium to spread racist messages? That’s the disturbing implication of a newly published study. “Frequent users are particularly disposed to be influenced by negative racial messages,” psychologists Shannon Rauch and Kimberley Schanz write in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. They argue these heavy users log onto the site in search of social inclusion rather than information—and as such, they’re prone to express agreement with the material they see without thinking about it too deeply. This combination of “a need to connect and an ethos of shallow processing” creates an atmosphere conducive to the spread of racist thoughts. Rauch and Schanz describe a study featuring 623 Internet users, nearly 95 percent of whom had a current Facebook account. They were asked how often they checked the site, reporting their typical usage on an eight-point scale from “less than once a week” to “20 or more times per day.” They then read one of three versions of a Facebook Notes Page, which was purportedly written by a 26-year-old white male named Jack Brown.

One version contained what the researchers describe as a “superiority message,” a post in which Jack “contrasted the behaviors of black and white individuals, only to find consistent superiority of the whites.” The second contained a “victim message,” a post in which Jack argues that “whites are the most oppressed racial group in America.” The third contained an “egalitarian message,” a post in which Jack gives examples of anti-black racism he has witnessed. The study participants were asked, among other things, “how much they agreed with the message,” “how accurate they found it,” “how much they liked the writer,” and how likely they were to either share the post with others or argue against it. The researchers found more-frequent Facebook users did not differ from the others in their reaction to the egalitarian message. However, they “were more positive toward the messages with racist content—particularly the superiority message,” they write.

Why would this be? “Frequent Facebook users are likely susceptible to negative persuasive messages because they engage in less critical processing, either because of their online experiences or personality traits,” Rauch and Schanz write. “Agreement and positive attitudes are driven by a need to belong and connect with others.” They note that, compared to those who use the site primarily for entertainment or “connecting with others,” the minority of Facebook users who report they use the site to find information and express their opinions were more likely to reject the racist messages. This group “appeared to discriminate between messages” to a far greater degree than the others. “This is a sobering finding, given that Facebook use has become increasingly commonplace, and … information-seeking is not a primary motivation of most Facebook users,” Rauch and Schanz conclude.

“Facebook clearly has diverse content,” they note, “which can include persuasive messages of a sort that warrant critical thinking and some depth of processing.” But critical thinking is often absent when people are motivated by the desire to be accepted, or to be entertained. As a result, this study suggests, some pretty disturbing stuff is being received with uncritical acceptance.
© Pacific Standard Magazine

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Here's How Far-Right Extremists Recruit on Twitter

29/3/2013- It’s not hard to find extremists on the internet. But it’s really hard finding out who’s the most successful at spreading extremism, which can make counteracting their influence difficult. Now a pair of researchers think they’ve figured out how to do it — which could make extremist threats easier to identify and block. The researchers also discovered some peculiar data about how extremists on both the far right and left use Twitter and how online extremist networks are organized. In a new report, terrorism analyst J.M. Berger his co-author Bill Strathearn found that traditional leaders on the far right are losing influence to new forms of extremist media, spread online by a small group of influential activists who are relative unknowns, but can communicate to a much larger audience of potential recruits. These activists are even attempting to make inroads into mainstream politics.

The team began by collecting 12 Twitter accounts owned by prominent self-identified white supremacists with a combined total of 3,542 Twitter followers. These accounts were for groups and individuals such as the white supremacist ideologue David Duke, various Ku Klux Klan factions, and neo-Nazi clubs like the Aryan Nations, American Nazi Party and the American Freedom Party. Next, the team narrowed in on the followers, of which 44 percent espoused what the team considered explicitly white supremacist views. The team looked at which of those followers were interacting with others the most and who had the most influence (meaning their tweets were retweeted by others the most). And finally, which websites were they linking to? And which hashtags were most popular?

The team concluded: The most influential ideologues were highly influential among the group, and most were dabblers in a kind of 90-9-1 rule for internet skinheads: 90 percent are lurkers and rarely contribute, 9 percent contribute some of the time, and 1 percent do most of the talking and effectively control the conversation. A full list of the most influential are included in the authors’ report (.pdf), published by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, a London think tank. It might sound obvious, but that’s good news. “In short, the vast majority of people taking part in extremist talk online are unimportant,” the authors write in the report. “They are casually involved, dabbling in extremism, and their rhetoric has a relatively minimal relationship to the spread of pernicious ideologies and their eventual metastasization into real-world violence.”

The most prominent white supremacist leaders also suck at promoting themselves. Instead, their followers preferred to link to other websites like WhiteResister, Infowars and the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens. This suggests the old guard of American organized racism is “not generating daily buzz, on Twitter at least,” and that “these well-known leaders of white nationalism in the United States may be losing touch with their constituents.” Here’s the bad news. The most influential Twitter followers among the sample are “highly committed white nationalists unlikely to be swayed by intervention.” Influential users are also “actively seeking dialogue with conservatives” through hashtags #tcot (or top conservatives on Twitter), #teaparty and #gop, as well as frequently linking to mainstream conservative websites. But only 4 percent of users identified as mainstream conservatives, which suggests the hashtags “are driven more by white nationalists feeling an affinity for conservatism than by conservatives feeling an affinity for white nationalism.”

This affinity can be prevented in part, according to the authors, with several tactics. One, they claim their metrics can be used to identify casual followers, “whose interactions indicate an interest in an extremist ideology but not a single-minded obsession with it.” Anti-racist activists — and mainstream conservatives in particular — could perhaps focus on these fence-sitters, keep tabs on them, and try to pull them away from becoming radicalized. Blocking content is harder and exists without clear guidelines, but many services like Twitter have begun blocking some neo-Nazi content, though it’s an uphill battle. Identifying the most diehard users first, and then blocking them, could cause the rest to whither away. Another option, the researchers suggest, is more targeted blocking of certain YouTube videos, which feed extremists’ Twitter feeds.

The authors encountered a similar phenomenon when studying left-wing anarchists, though there are some differences. Anarchists on Twitter still had a small number of highly influential users in control of the conversation, but the distribution wasn’t as sharply concentrated as the white supremacists. Anarchists on Twitter are less likely to identify as strongly with anarchism as white supremacists do with their ideology, and are more likely to identify with multiple political ideologies — meaning other extremist ones. They’re also more likely to rely on mainstream websites for information, and the websites they prefer are mostly politically liberal.

But the anarchists’ hashtags show little signs of interest in mainstream liberals as potential allies. (Their hashtags are mostly Occupy Wall Street-related.) This may reflect an ideological difference. Anarchists are “fundamentally opposed to political institutions, compared to white nationalism, which is not opposed to institutions per se,” the authors write. Nonetheless, however much the difference between extremist ideologies might seem, their behavior is still pretty similar across these boundaries. Breaking their spell has to first begin with finding out who’s who.
© Wired

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Slovakia: Punishment for shooter of three Romani victims called absurdly low

28/3/2013- The sentence of nine years in prison and an order to undergo psychiatric treatment handed down by a court in Slovakia against municipal police officer Milan Juhász, who shot dead three people and injured two others in Hurbanovo last year, has prompted much reaction. The defendant originally faced the possibility of life in prison, but the judges chose a lighter sentence for him at the suggestion of the prosecutor and after experts testified that he had not been completely sane when he committed the shooting. The verdict has taken effect, as neither side has appealed.

"The Romani Union Party sharply protests the nine-year sentence for the shooter from Urbanovo [sic], Milan Juhász, who committed a triple murder and seriously injured two people. The party cannot agree with the court's findings and there is no excuse for this behavior with respect to protecting public order and the residents of the town. The psychiatrist did not unequivocally testify that Milan Juhász was incapable of telling right from wrong when he committed this crime. As a member of the municipal police, he had previously undergone psychological testing and knew what legal procedures he could have used to settle any dispute he had with troubled residents. He did not deny that he committed premeditated murder, and his confession was evidence of the fact that he recalls his actions very well and therefore knew what he was doing. We disagree with this absurdly low sentence, as well as with the fact that he will be under protective supervision for three years only, and we consider this sentence disproportionate to the seriousness of this crime, which we believe was racially motivated. Experts have even claimed that they cannot rule out the notion that he might repeat this behavior, so this person decidedly does not belong at large until the end of his life," said František Tanko, chair of the Romani Union Party in Slovakia (Strana romské unie na Slovensku).

According to psychologist Róbert Máthý, a detention center would be an ideal place for Juhász. However, there is still no such facility in Slovakia. "There is no doubt that this person needs psychiatric treatment. In my view, that is even more important than punishing him. Since that kind of treatment takes a long time and the patient must be tested to make sure it really has had an effect, a certain detention period would be appropriate," Máthý told news server Aktuálně.sk. "Any attempt to compare the lengths of sentences for completely different criminal cases runs the risk of ending very badly, but there are moments when one cannot help oneself," commentator Roman Pataja wrote in the daily SME. "In October 2012 a court in Považská Bystřica sentenced a 19-year-old first-time offender to 12 years in prison for kicking a policewoman in the knee and attacking two other people while drunk (the sentence has not yet taken effect). If, purely theoretically, we believe that sentence was proportionate, what are we to make of the verdict in the trial of the police officer Milan Juhász?"

"The quasi-expert evaluation provided by the psychiatrist and psychologist did not sound reliable, because according to the law on the police corps, all police officers must pass capacity tests to perform their jobs. This inadequately low, stupid sentence is an encouragement to everyone who sets their heart on taking the law into their own hands and then being declared insane afterward with the help of psychiatrists and psychologists," said Václav Kappel, chair of the Romani Initiative of Slovakia (Romská iniciativa Slovenska).
© Romea.

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Greek neo-Nazi party calls for boycott of Estee Lauder

Greece's Golden Dawn Party says cosmetics brand should be targeted due to World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder's 'attack on Greek sovereignty.' 

28/3/2013- The Greek Golden Dawn party called for a boycott of Estee Lauder cosmetic products after World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder urged Greece to ban the neo-Nazi group. Due to the “hostile attack on Greek sovereignty, freedom, and interests, Lauder’s cosmetics monopoly Estee Lauder must be boycotted,” said a statement on the website of Golden Dawn’s New York branch. Lauder, speaking at a ceremony on March 17 to commemorate the destruction of the historic Jewish community in Thessaloniki by the Nazis, called on Greece to take a tougher stance against Golden Dawn.

Golden Dawn slammed Lauder for interfering in Greek politics. “An institution that is not Greek and does nothing to contribute to Greek well-being is demanding [Greek Prime Minister Antonis] Samaras ban the third largest party, which enjoys up to 18 percent of the electorate's support, all in the name of liberal democracy nonetheless,” the statement on Golden Dawn's website said.

“The World Jewish Congress claims to speak on behalf of Greece’s 5,000 Jews. Why does Samaras care more about the opinions of 5,000 over 1 million Greeks, if Greece is truly a democracy?” the statement continued. The WJC responded on Thursady to the boycott call comparing it to actions of the German Nazi government, the Jewish Chronicle reported. "Both in words and in actions these fanatics behave like the Nazis did 80 years ago," said Maram Stern, deputy secretary-general of the WJC.

Golden Dawn erupted onto the political scene last year, winning seven percent of the vote, or 18 seats, in Greece's 300-member Parliament. Recent polls have indicated the party, which runs on a fierce anti-immigrant platform, now has between 14 to 18 percent of the population’s support. In addition to the WJC, many Jewish and international groups have condemned Golden Dawn as being racist and anti-Semitic.
© Haaretz

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Violent extremism in Greece: Focusing on the far-right

By Sappho Xenakis

26/3/2013- Perhaps the most challenging domestic security issue facing Greece today is the presence and emboldening of violent far-right militias and gangs. Incidents of far-right violence in Greece saw a steady ascent over the 2000s, overwhelmingly targeting immigrants but also leftists and anarchists. By 2009, far-right platoons of thirty to forty men dressed in black and armed with sticks had established a regular presence patrolling immigrant-dense neighbourhoods of Athens, unchallenged by the police, intimidating local shopkeepers and residents and engaging in violent assaults against immigrants and their property. Other attacks on immigrants and their property (from the fire-bombings of places of residence and worship to beatings and stabbings), and violent assaults against leftists and anarchists, have been carried out by smaller groups of vigilantes, who are often also reportedly black-clad. Since 2009, Greece has seen what NGOs have characterised as the steepest ascent in racist violence in Europe.

Within only the first six months of 2011, NGOs in Athens claimed to have treated at least 500 victims of racist attacks, and over 200 racist attacks were additionally recorded between October 2011 and December 2012 by a network of NGOs headed by the UNHCR. In late 2012, the UNHCR characterised the level of racist violence as ‘alarming’, whilst the US Embassy in Athens went so far as to warn US citizens residing in or travelling to Greece of a heightened risk of attack for those whose complexion might lead them to be perceived as foreign migrants. Behind the platoons and the smaller groups carrying out far-right attacks is alleged to be the political party Chrysi Avyi (‘Golden Dawn’), an extreme nationalist movement that entered parliament for the first time in 2012, with 6.9 percent of the vote and eighteen MPs. The party, whose members dress in black, uses language and imagery redolent of Nazism, and is openly sceptical about parliamentary democracy, as well as being vocally racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, and virulently opposed to those on the left of the political spectrum.

To date, however, although the party has sought in different ways to build upon its association with violence – such as by taking a fully supportive stance towards the actions of the party’s spokesman after he physically assaulted two female left-wing politicians on live television, and by using footage of participation by its MPs and other party members in coordinated attacks on the market stalls of immigrant traders for publicity purposes –, the party has commonly denied responsibility for the many organised assaults causing serious bodily harm that have been perpetrated by typically black-clad groups of vigilantes. There has been longstanding campaigning by human rights organisations to see the existence of organised far-right violence in Greece recognised and treated by the state as a menace to the security of individuals, as well as to public order more generally. Yet successive centrist governments have tended to refute or downplay the issue.

As recently as December 2010, officials and prosecutors from the Ministry for Citizen Protection rejected the notion that racist and xenophobic violence was a serious or growing problem to representatives of the NGO Human Rights Watch. Whether in terms of organised far-right violence as such, or racist violence in particular, the Greek state has long failed to monitor, record, prosecute, effectively punish perpetrators and appropriately compensate victims. For a full thirty years, for example, not a single published legal judgment applied Law 972/1979, which provides for ‘the punishment of acts or conducts aimed at racial discrimination’ (the first known application of the law in criminal courts took place in 2010). It was only following sustained pressure, created by international publicisation of far-right violence by NGOs and the media over the course of 2012, that the Greek state finally announced in January 2013 the appointment of a special prosecutor to address racist crimes and the establishment of police units to monitor racist violence. Alongside this development, however, the government has maintained a regressive agenda against immigrants, including through the use of intense police operations and by suspending citizenship applications from children over the age of six who were born in Greece of immigrant parents.

Even now, moreover, there has been no hint of prospective state action against the broader category of far-right violence. Assaults by far-right groups against homosexuals and leftists remain unmonitored by the state, for instance, and the organised nature of far-right violence is not subject to particular scrutiny by law enforcement. Despite the established presence of violent far-right groups repeatedly associated with brutal attacks on Greeks and foreigners in the country, the Greek state does not acknowledge the existence of violent far-right organisations in its monitoring of political violence. Unlike many of its European counterparts, for example, Greece has not notifed EUROPOL of attacks by extremist far-right groups on its territory. This omission has had a significant impact in distorting analysis of, and responses to, the terrain of political violence in Greece. Official policy and practice, as well as scholarly analysis, have focused almost uniquely upon the actions of violent far-left and anarchist groups. Similar to the experience of other states in Western Europe, the vast majority of recorded incidents of violence perpetrated by far-left and anarchist groups in Greece since the 1970s have involved the use of explosives against symbolic targets, causing few casualties or fatalities. According to official records, the number of such attacks rose from 13 in 2008, to 15 in 2009, and 20 in 2010, but fell over the course of 2010 and 2011, when only 6 attacks were recorded. Nevertheless, mainstream political discourse in Greece has increasingly resounded with demands that the threat posed by violent far-left and anarchist groups be equated with that from far-right extremists, whilst rising xenophobia amongst the public has supported the impunity tacitly accorded by the state to far-right violence.
© The Extremis Project

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Anti-Semitism, Christian or Muslim, Still Based on Ignorance, Envy (opinion)

By Dan Ehrlich, Journalist and Broadcaster 

28/3/2013- Current Hollywood hottie and A list actor Mila Kunis admits anti-Semitism was the main reason she and her parents left their native Ukraine for the USA some 20-year-ago. The curious aspect of this not so unusual event is that most Jews in that part of Eastern Europe were murdered during WW2. How could there be strong anti-Jewish sentiment? Mehdi Hansan's recent blog on Islamic anti-Semitism, although highly informative and interesting, lacked an in-depth explanation of why? Why are the world's 15 ½ million Jews, who have given the world so much, the butt of jokes or hate over much of the Earth? This is an especially key time to ask this question. Easter is the holiest day of the Christian faith, when Christ died for the sins of mankind and was resurrected. It was also the basis, as illogical as it may seem, for Europe's wrath on Jews as "Christ killers," never once reasoning there probably wouldn't have been a Christian faith for them to love without the Easter passion.

In places such as Ukraine, Poland , Belarus and Hungary, the memory of their decimated Jewish communities seems to be lasting longer than memories of the War. Anti-Semitic epithets are part of the nomenclature. Why? When a people in exile have outlived history, surviving while greater civilizations have disappeared, their main problem might be adapting to a changing world. This, actually, hasn't been too much of a problem. It's the results of their adaptability that have created problems. The weight of history is heavy and it has burdened the Jewish People with virtually every opening imaginable to racist attacks: Being a minority religion, deicide, outsiders, successful, insular, tight with money, dress strangely, look different and have their own holidays. All this is okay if you're in your own country. But, if you're in someone else's country, one that's peasant based and steeped in a specific dogmatic religion that preaches its primacy over the earth and its inhabitants, trouble could be just around the corner.

Judaism is at the root of both Christianity and Islam...two faiths that account for 2.5 billion followers. Yet, the world's small Jewish population has long fought way above its weight. And I feel this is a main cause of anti-Semitism. There are two basic reasons for racism: Viewing a minority as not being not good enough or being too good for its own good. If you go unnoticed in just about any society you will probably not have any trouble. It's when a minority achieves prominence that the public takes notice. And if that minority can be tied to perceived hostility toward the majority's faith, a genuine hostile reaction from members of the majority is very probable. After the Romans and Crusaders got through with the Middle East, large Jewish communities had sprung up in many Arab countries. And because of their ethnic similarities they didn't normally suffer the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" meted out them in Europe. On the other hand, as infidels they had second-class status to the "believers." Yet, as long as they weren't noticed there wasn't endless persecution.

Then came Zionism... that was nothing, more than establishing a Jewish refuge from European persecution in the Jews' ancient homeland. This was not promoted by Bibi Netanyahu's grandfather but by left-wing crypto Marxist intellectuals who bought some wasteland from the Turks. They wanted to see if collective farming and technology could make the desert bloom. They were hardly there to persecute Arabs or steal their land. Unfortunately this was happening when the Ottoman Empire was collapsing and Arab nationalism, suppressed for 400 years, was also reborn. The sight of more and more European Jewish settlers appearing on the scene violated that main rule for peace: They became noticed. Things might have been a bit different if the Zionist settlers had been Arabic Jews...They wouldn't have been so visible

Fast forwarding to 1948, the bookies were giving long odds on Israel lasting more than a week against the massed Arab nations' war of annihilation. Confounding the odds makers and totally confusing the Arabs, the Jews won, something completely unscripted. In a relatively short times span, the Jews went from being noticed and hated by some people in Europe to being noticed and hated in the Middle East and beyond. Why? Basically for the same reason the Catholic Church condemned them and the Nazis tried to exterminate them. When you tell your people you are the master race, the only faith, and you have a persecuted minority in your midst that excels while you may not, envy and jealousy can fuel your racism. For the Muslim world a non-Arabic, non-Muslim nation existing as a regional superpower has been impossible for most Arab nations to digest.

A similar conclusion can be made about some UK Muslims. They see Jews as people who have defied Islam and still won. They seem wealthy and live well. It's hard come to grips with this. They must be in with the Devil...That's what some Christians used to claim. Then there's the Palestinian issue...ongoing since 1948 and something that has to be solved. Yet, today it has become an excuse for racist behaviour. The refugees problem has been going on so long, many people have little idea of what is in play here. But, consider this: Had there been no Arab-Israel wars there would be no refugees or occupation. There also wouldn't be Arab League Resolution 1542.... This is possibly the only international resolution where one race is acting in a racist manner against its own people. It denies Palestinians citizenship in other Arab nations solely because they are Palestinians. A Jew has a better chance than a Palestinian of getting citizenship in some Arab countries.

The irony here is that Israel has about 2 million Palestinian Arabs as full citizens of Israel, yet the Arabs nation will not accord their own Palestinian brothers citizenship. If some Muslims would examine this issue from history instead of issuing emotional responses that evolve into racist diatribes, they may have a less bigoted view of Jews.
© The Huffington Post - UK

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Anti-Semitism 7 Times Higher for Belgian Muslim Students: Report

More Than Half Agreed That Jews 'Foment War'
By JTA 

28/3/2013- A major survey among Belgian teenagers indicated anti-Semitism was seven times more prevalent among Muslim youths than in non-Muslim teenagers. Conducted in recent months by three universities for the Flemish government, the survey was published last month based on questionnaires filled out by 3,867 high school students in Antwerp and Ghent, including 1,068 Muslims. Among Muslims, 50.9 percent of respondents agreed with the statement “Jews foment war and blame others for it” compared to only 7.1 percent among non-Muslims. Among Muslims, 24.5 percent said they partially agreed with the statement, as did 20.6 percent of non-Muslims.

The statement “Jews seek to control everything” received a 45.1 approval rating among Muslims compared to 10.8 approval among non-Muslims. Of Muslims, 27.9 percent said they partially agreed, as did 29.2 percent of non-Muslims. About 35 percent of Muslims agreed with the statement that “Jews have too much clout in Belgium” compared to 11.8 percent of non-Muslims who participated in the “Young in Antwerp and Ghent” survey. The results were part of a 360-page report which was produced for the Flemish government’s Youth Research Platform by the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven; Ghent University and Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Last week the Brussels-based Jewish educational organization CEJI, which promotes tolerance in Europe, requested a meeting with Belgian Education Minister Pascal Smet to discuss the survey and address “the classical anti-Semitic attitudes” which the study revealed, “which we hoped not to see in a democratic Europe after World War II,” CEJI’s director, Robin Sclafani, wrote. Claude Marinower, Antwerp’s alderman for education, told JTA he found the data “most troubling.” In an interview for the Antwerp-based monthly Joods Actueel, Marinower announced he would launch an action plan to fight anti-Semitism in the Flemish capital’s schools.
© The Forward

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27/3/2013- A 17-year-old Romani boy died in suspicious circumstances in Becej, Serbia. The ERRC is urging the authorities to thoroughly investigate the crime, including any possible racist motivation, after an initial hearing took place in Novi Sad today. The boy was found dead in the early hours on 17 March 2013, and the events surrounding his death are unclear. Initial information from the police classified the death as suspicious. Daily newspaper Blic reported on 21 March that the boy had been kicked to death by four persons, that they were skinheads and that he may have been targeted because he was Roma. The boy was severely beaten and left unconscious in a puddle. Some media reports said that the autopsy showed death by drowning. A 14-year-old boy, reported to be an ethnic Hungarian from Becej, has been arrested in connection with the attack.

In a separate incident, a group of masked young men attacked a group of Roma in a Roma settlement in Kestenova Street, Bor, eastern Serbia on 21 March. The attackers used rocks, breaking the windows of houses and damaging cars belonging to Roma. Unofficial and unconfirmed reports suggest the attack happened following an attack on an ethnic Serb a day earlier, which may have been carried out by a Romani individual. According to an official statement from the police, ten people have been arrested and detained for eight days, and criminal charges have been initiated for the criminal act of violent behavior. The incident was classified as "unsettled inter-personal relations".

The ERRC is calling on the authorities to fully investigate both these incidents considering a racial motivation, as hate crimes may have been committed. Authorities should identify and prosecute all perpetrators, in line with the national criminal code.
© European Roma Rights Center

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