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 online in full...and with flaws

There are a number of HTML versions available of the text, but stripped of its footnotes and references.

The full report, in PDF, all one hundred odd pages, comes from the site of a Danish TV channel [1].

I'm naturally interested to see what the report has to say about the UK (p98f): on the bald stats of antisemitic attacks,
Between 1990 and 2001 an average of 282 anti-Semitic incidents per year were counted. During the period 1998 to 2001,the average yearly total rose to 305 incidents. In...2000 the UK (total population 58.4 million) witnessed 405 anti-Semitic incidents, a rise of 50...The number of incidents decreased in 2001 to 305...
though it suggests that the seriousness of incidents have got worse since 2000. Second Intifada oblige, apparently.

Then it gets on to
Verbal aggression/hate speech

Its lead example under this heading?
In Edinburgh an Episcopalian clergyman was forced to defend a mural showing a crucified Jesus flanked by Roman soldiers...

It then says that
Many British Jews are of the opinion that the press reporting on Israeli policy is spiced with a tone of animosity, "as to smell of anti-Semitism" as The Economist put it.

Apart from what I can only think is the Economist's knowing little joke [2] - it's striking that there is no polling or other data to back up the statement. Odd in a work of social science research.

But, when it quotes Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, it appends what appears to be a critical comment about Sacks' lack of evidence (emphasis mine):
He says that "the anti-Israeli bias of much media coverage here has made British Jews more vulnerable" without though naming any examples.

The report refers to ADL studies done in 2002 - European Attitudes towards Jews, Israel and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict - in ten countries:
Compared to most of the other EU countries agreement with anti-Semitic statements in the United Kingdom was clearly lower...

And then, on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the ADL reported that
30% of the British respondents sympathised with the Palestinian side, the second highest rate after the Danes, while only 16% sympathised with Israel.

The report offers an explanation for this phenomenon:
Here the social contact with Muslims appears to have played an important role: 32% of the British in contact with Muslims "fairly often" sympathised with the Palestinians.

Now, I'm no expert; but it strikes me that the difference between the 32% of the fairly often subgroup and the 30% of pro-Palestinians in the general population is rather unlikely to be statistically significant at the 95% level.

(In national electoral polling in the UK, results are usually expressed as plus or minus 3%.)

Moreover, the report does not say - the ADL study may do, of course - what proportion of the total UK population fall within the fairly often group. Without that information, the stats given, at best, are incapable of being evidence for the proposition, and, at worst, are a deliberate attempt to mislead!

If this is typical of the rest of the report, then I begin to see why the EU might have decided not to release it.

  1. Manifestations of anti-Semitism in the European Union Synthesis Report (Draft 20 February 2003), produced for the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia by Werner Bergmann and Juliane Wetzel of the Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung (Center for Research on Antisemitism) in Vienna.

  2. The idea of the Jewish smell is a familiar antisemitic construct (from a piece on Marc Weiner, a music academic at Indiana U):
    Moreover, Weiner maintains, Wagner capitalized on a stereotype linking Jews and stench that dated back at least to the Middle Ages. This theme was present in the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer, a philosopher ardently admired by Wagner. Schopenhauer specifically used terms such as Judenpech [Jew's pitch (odor)] and foetor judäicus [odor of the Jews]. Thus, when Wagner in his stage notes and libretto assigns the stink of pitch to Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, he did so, Weiner maintains, in full awareness of the anti-Semitic resonance it would strike with the audiences of his time.

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