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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November, 2003, 17:08 GMT
EU pressed on anti-Semitism study
Aftermath of Jewish school attack
The row comes amid a wave of anti-Semitic attacks in France
A senior American politician has urged the European Union to publish a report on rising anti-Semitism in Europe.

Florida Democrat Representative Robert Wexler said in a letter to EU leaders that immediate measures were needed to combat the threat to European Jews.

The EU rejected a similar request by US congressmen in July on the grounds that the report was below quality standards.

The letter follows calls by President Bush last week for European leaders to fight and condemn anti-semitism.

Members of the European Parliament have also asked for the report, which covers a period in 2002, to be published.

The row comes amid condemnation of a wave of anti-Semitic attacks in France, which is thought to have the worst problem with anti-Semitism in Europe.

It is not that Europe has become more anti-Semitic, it is simply that, over the past few years, people have felt much more at ease in expressing their prejudices
Peter Sichrovsky, Austrian MEP

However, French interior ministry figures show a sharp drop in the number of attacks this year compared to last.

The report was commissioned in early 2002 by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) .

The Financial Times newspaper revealed that the EUMC management board had decided to shelve the paper in February.

"I have been informed that the draft report in question ... did not meet the criteria of consistency and quality of data," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana wrote in July.

And EUMC Director Beate Winkler said last week that the report had been rejected because its authors had only been asked to study the period May-June 2002, a period later judged to be unrepresentative.

'Political considerations'

There also appear to be differences with the authors over the definition of anti-Semitism, which included some anti-Israel acts by pro-Palestinian and Muslim groups.

But Mr Wexler said that a researcher involved in compiling the report had told him it had been shelved because of "political considerations".

ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS IN FRANCE
Jan-Aug 2002: 647
Jan-Aug 2003: 247
Source: French interior ministry
Critics of the decision say the EU is trying to shield European Muslims for the sake of political correctness.

"Suggestions that the EU would suppress this report based on politics and in the face of growing hatred toward European Jewry are unconscionable," Mr Wexler said.

"The EU report on anti-Semitism is the essential first step toward eradicating this crisis, and I call on the EUMC to immediately release this report."

This view was echoed by German Christian Democrat MEP Armin Wetzel.

"The grounds given so far [for not publishing the report] are not objective grounds," he told Financial Times Deutschland.

"The fight against anti-Semitism must be conducted in a systematic way and not according to left-wing/right-wing considerations."




SEE ALSO:
France vows to fight hate crime
17 Nov 03  |  Europe
Rabbi warns of race hate attacks
17 Nov 03  |  Middle East


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