Registered: Nov 2003
Local time: 07:46 PM
European study on anti-Semitism is scrapped
By Irene Zoech in Vienna
A study backed by the European Union on the rise of anti-Semitism has been shelved after officials decided that its findings were "too controversial".
The 112-page survey, commissioned by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia based in Austria, found that many anti-Semitic incidents were carried out by Muslim and pro-Palestinian groups.
The research was ordered in response to fears that anti-Semitism was on the rise across Europe - and apparently confirmed the truth of the claims. However, the centre - which is the EU's official racism watchdog - was unnerved by its results.
A spokesman for the watchdog refused to comment yesterday, but according to authoritative reports officials admitted a "political decision" was taken not to publish it partly because of fears that it would increase hostility towards Muslims.
The watchdog, which was set up in 1998, has published three reports on anti-Islamic attitudes in Europe but has yet to publish any parallel findings on anti-Semitism.
Officials apparently objected that the study - carried out by the Centre for Research on Anti-Semitism at Berlin's Technical University - defined anti-Semitism incorrectly by including hostility to Israel.
An official who refused to be named said: "There is a trend towards Muslim anti-Semitism, while on the Left there is also mobilisation against Israel that is not always free of prejudice. Merely saying the perpetrators are French, Belgian or Dutch does no justice to the full picture."
Earlier this year Beate Winkler, the director of the EUMC, said that anti-Semitism was on the rise across Europe and was now happening "on a large scale" in France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. The French president, Jacques Chirac, called a cabinet meeting last week to discuss attacks on synagogues and schools in France.
The anti-Semitism study is understood to have been presented to the watchdog's board, which includes representatives from each EU country as well as the European Commission, Parliament and the Council of Europe, before a decision not to publish it was taken.
Ms Winkler said that the study was rejected as it was considered as being unrepresentative because the period it covered - May and June 2002 - was too short to reach a full conclusion. Instead the EUMC will use it as part of another survey next year.
Dr Rita Koch, a prominent Jewish historian in Vienna, said that the refusal to publish the report was pushing political correctness to extremes. "This is an official body and it has no business covering up this report. If it wanted the report, it should be prepared to publish it. Behaving like this is like they are afraid of their own shadow."