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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 February, 2004, 14:33 GMT
Reporters' Log - Anti-Semitism in Europe
The BBC's team of correspondents log their impressions and reports on the perceived rise of anti-Semitism in Europe as Jewish leaders appeal to the European Union to take a tougher stance.

Most recent postings are at the top.

Adam Easton :: Warsaw, Poland :: 1103GMT

Sixty years after the Holocaust, the issue of Jews and anti-Semitism is still very emotional in Poland.

Guests at the anti-Semitism seminar hosted by the EU
Guests at the anti-Semitism seminar in Brussels
Before World War II, 3.5 million Jews lived in Poland, but most died in the Nazi concentration camps, many of which were located in Poland.

According to some estimates, there are fewer that 6,000 Jews now living in Poland.

But anti-Semitism is not hard to find - anti-Semitic slogans can be heard at football grounds and seen on election campaign posters.

Many Poles believe a Jewish elite runs the country behind the scenes.

But Poland has recently been facing up to its complex Jewish history.

A few years ago, evidence emerged that the Poles had rounded up and burned more than a thousand Jews in the small town of Jedwabne in 1941.

Although denial persists, the issue became an open and often painful public debate, which ended with an apology from the country's president.

There are other signs that Jewish culture is flourishing.

Every year, the city of Krakow hosts an internationally acclaimed Jewish cultural festival, and its old Jewish quarter has been rejuvenated.

More and more Poles, it seems, are becoming interested in Poland's rich cultural legacy.

Alistair Sandford :: Paris, France :: 1100GMT

The French government angrily rejects charges of widespread anti-Semitism among French people.

President Chirac has said that an attack on French Jews is an attack on France, but several recent incidents have highlighted the scale of the problem.

The Jewish singer Shirel was subjected to a torrent of anti-Semitic abuse on stage from young people in the audience, while the well-known comedian Dieudonne gave a Nazi salute on state television to illustrate his attack on Israeli policy.

Late last year, a Jewish school in a Paris suburb was burned, and the organiser of a demonstration against the ban on headscarves in schools used the occasion to attack Zionism.

The visit of the Israeli president to Paris this week - the first for 60 years - shows how keen France is to reassure Jewish people.

But it's clear that tensions are high in a country that contains the world's third largest Jewish community and Europe's largest number of Muslims.

Lars Bevanger :: Oslo, Norway :: 1000GMT

Although there has been little in terms of anti-Semitic violence in the Scandinavian countries, Israeli expatriates and pro-Israeli groups have criticised what they call institutionalised anti-Semitism.

At one stage, soon after the start of the latest intifada, the Norwegian federation of Trade Unions called for a boycott of all Israeli goods.

The move was condemned by the sitting right-of-centre government here, which said it could be interpreted as anti-Semitic.

Just last month, across the border in Sweden, a now infamous episode saw the Israeli ambassador to Stockholm destroy an art installation in full view of television cameras.

The installation, made by an Israeli artist, had the picture of a female Palestinian suicide bomber mounted on a toy boat, floating in a sea of red water reminiscent of blood.

The ambassador condemned the art work and said it was yet another example of anti-Semitic actions tolerated by the Swedish state.

The Swedish government refused to remove the art installation, and would not condemn it.

Scandinavian countries like to be seen as peacemakers, and there is a genuine desire here for the Middle East conflict to come to an end.

But there is also a tendency to side with what many regard as the underdog in the conflict - the Palestinians - and that tendency is prone to be interpreted by pro-Israelis to be anti-Semitic.


SEE ALSO:
EU urged to tackle anti-Semitism
19 Feb 04  |  Europe
Anti-Semitism row halts EU forum
06 Jan 04  |  Europe
Desecration of the dead
08 Dec 03  |  Magazine
Rabbi warns of race hate attacks
17 Nov 03  |  Middle East


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