The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Tuesday, December 09, 2003

The EU anti-semitism report: the more you read, the worse it looks

[Following up the piece earlier today.]

We have an (undated, untimed) press release from the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), with a link to the draft report.

On the quality of which it says this:
It is the view of the EUMC that this final draft of the Synthesis Report submitted by the Berlin Centre reveals that the available data was neither reliable nor objective nor sufficiently robust to enable an authoritative comparative analysis of the manifestations of anti-Semitism in the EU, let alone provide a sound explanation of anti-Semitism in Europe today. Despite the narrow scope of the data set, the final draft of this report proceeds to offer causal explanations of the development and causes of anti-Semitism in the EU and its Member States, as well as a general profile of perpetrators of anti-Semitic discourse and acts.

It goes on to give specific examples.

Now, in doing any checking here, I'm handicapped by functional illiteracy in German. The report was produced by two germanophones, and was, to judge from the English version, originated in German. The product of the authors, and of the institution responsible for their work, is also likely mostly to be in German [1].

So, as far as quality control is concerned, I'm limited to the English version of the draft.

And, whilst I've scarcely done more than skim and taste, it does increasingly look like a shoddy piece of work.

For example, a scan of the sources listed at the back of the document (p100ff) are mostly Jewish or Israeli, or NGOs whose very names bring into question their impartiality: for instance, the National Focal Point (each country reported on has one) for Spain is listed as the
Movement for Peace, Disarmament and Liberty;
for Luxemburg, the
Association for the Support of Immigrant Workers

The sources of information listed by country are either vague or go to confirm the impression of bias: under France:
- All daily print press as well as press agencies;
- Jewish Communities' media (Actualité juive, antisé, etc.);
- Jewish groups (CRIF, UEJF), in particular the new structures or initiatives recently set up
to counter anti-Semitic acts or for the purpose of victim support (Observatoire du monde
juif, help lines such as SOS Vérité - Sécurité or SOS antisémitisme);
- anti-racist non-profit organisations (LICRA, SOS Racisme, MRAP, FASTI)

And under Spain
- Mass media;
- Internet (oriented on neo-Nazi and racist groups);
- Violence reports;
- Personal interviews;
- Consultation with several organisations, especially Jewish ones.

Again, the general section on the media (p8ff) combines the same problems of vagueness and bias, stating, for instance that
The Jewish communities regarded the one-sidedness, the aggressive tone of the reporting on Israeli policy in the Middle East conflict and references to old Christian anti-Jewish sentiments as problematic.
without any reference to quantification or differentiation between countries or over time; and stating unchallenged the assertions of a particular group, without any other group's views being similarly singled out.

A search for the reason that so apparently dismal an effort should be produced at all might want to include the nature of the brief given by the EUMC to the ZfA, and the fee to be paid in relation to the work required.

Whereas, for a subject about which the EUMC were so evidently troubled covering so many countries, one might have thought that original research would have been commissioned, what seems to have happened is basically a Jayson Blair-style armchair job: the net has been surfed, previous contacts emailed, and a report cobbled together without much in the way of original work or value added evident.

Now, the EU is responsible for far more than its share of crime, lunacy and bad government. But, as at present advised, I'd say they merely did what any half-competent newspaper editor would have done: slung it back for a complete rewrite!

  1. Its site is in German only, so far as I can see.

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