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Session Overview
RN31_02a_P: Antisemitism – Case Studies
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: David Hirsh, Goldsmiths, University of London
Location: PC.6.32
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 6.

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Are refugees from the Middle East importing antisemitism back to Europe?

Ben Gidley

Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom

Drawing on a five-country (Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, UK) European research project, and especially the UK case study, this paper explores the claim that migrants and especially refugees from MENA are carriers of hostility to Jews. What are the sources of this claim, and how can we understand it sociologically? What is the empirical basis for the claim? This paper shows the lack of evidence for widespread anti-Jewish attitudes among refugees from Syria and elsewhere, but also insists that we need to take seriously the sources of Jewish insecurity in Europe. It argues that circulating discourses of Sunni Arab migrants' antisemitism reveals at least as much about new vectors of racism within European society (including the role of what have been called "unorthodox" forms of fascism) as it does about refugee attitudes.

Comparative study on antisemitism of a macro border region in Europe

Laura Bergnach1, Francesca Cavarocchi2

1University of Udine, Italy; 2University of Udine, Italy

Our purpose is to deepen the knowledge of the antisemitic social sub-culture in a regional border area distributed between Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, which extends between the Adriatic-Mediterranean and Eastern Europe. We have outlined of its size based on findings from a comparative perspective on the results emerged from two recent empirical surveys carried out in this specific socio-historical context characterised by a population ‘anthropologically’ peculiar, because ‘border’. The presence of linguistic and cultural discriminated minorities, greatly contributed to define their socialisation in a border setting means for individuals and actors the perspective “to learn” the original language, which is expressed like the contact with heterogeneity. The complex and profound social, cultural and economic relations that developed in the long period between the trans-regional areas is now influenced by profound changes occurred with the European enlargement; moreover with the intense migration flows from various national and ethnical origins, a phenomenon that forces to radically rethink the status of foreigners in our time. Questioning the public relief of prejudice towards other cultures, we interpreted recent resurgence of antisemitic attitudes, operating on the weight of the feeling of distrust. In ‘New Europe’ the resurgence of anti-Semitic prejudices and xenophobia would be mainly related to the need to reorient and to defend a national identity under threat from the outside, while the anti-Zionism seems less important factor in the strengthening of antisemitic prejudice than in ‘Old Europe’ of the macro region.

Influence factors for engagement against antisemitism in a predominantly Muslim country – theoretical reflections on empirical results from Morocco

Kim Robin Stoller

Free University Berlin/ International Institute for Education and Research on Antisemitism, Germany

Antisemitism in predominantly Muslim countries is still underresearched. Given the fact that opinion polls are rare, the few existing studies show in general a high percentage of anti-Jewish attitudes and anti-Israel resentments. Mayor differences can be encountered in different language areas and socio-political contexts. But what is about people who engage against antisemitism? How comes that they get active – even if they might risk a lot?

Based on the results of a qualitative study on Civil Society activists confronting antisemitism in Morocco, this paper reflects on potential factors of influence. Who are they? What are their motives, backgrounds and political visions? How do they relate their activities against antisemitism and Israel-hatred to their general Civil Society approaches?

“One million antisemites“? Attitudes towards Jews, Israel and the Holocaust among refugees in Germany – Results from an empirical study

Sina Arnold, Jana König

Humboldt University Berlin, Germany

In 2015 and 2016, more than one million refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries arrived in Germany. In the media, they were often portrayed as importing not only sexism and homophobia, but also antisemitic attitudes. But was it really “one million antisemites“ that arrived, as imagined by conservative politician Erika Steinbach in a tweet commenting on the Arabic world cheering the fires in Haifa this winter?

In a recent empirical study, we conducted qualitative interviews with 25 refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, asking them about their views on Jews, Judaism, Israel, the Middle East conflict and the Holocaust, but also their living conditions in Germany, experiences of discrimination, and hopes and fears regarding the future.

In our analysis we focus on specific patterns of argumentation and their links to collective identities (national, ethnic, religious, political) as well as demographic factors. Moreover, we take into account the potential role of discrimination faced in the sending and receiving countries in influencing attitudes.

In addition, we spoke with 14 experts from civil society, refugee aid groups as well as Jewish organization; asking them about contemporary Jewish fears about a rise in antisemitism, perspectives on the topic of antisemitism among refugees and best practices in combatting it.

We theoretically situate our study within current debates on „Muslim“ or „Arab“ antisemitism and put forward some methodological suggestions for the further study of antisemitic views on the part of discriminated minorities.

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