By Ruth E. Gruber
|(Oct.19)The Simon Wiesenthal Center says a Syrian
synagogue was attacked two days ago but this has
not been reported.
This is one of more than 200 anti-Semitic attacks
worldwide since October 1.
In a report, the Center says this is the worst spate of
attacks on synagogues since November 1938.
(October 18) ROME (JTA) - Fearing that the crisis in the Middle East could spill over into a wave of terrorism in Europe, Jewish communities and police across Europe are on their highest state of alert in a decade.
Already, scores of antisemitic incidents ranging from graffiti to street demonstrations to the firebombing of synagogues and Jewish businesses have been reported.
Jewish communities have heightened their own security, while governments and police have increased protection at Jewish institutions and other potential targets.
Nearly 100 antisemitic incidents were reported in France, including the fire-bombing of a Paris synagogue and a Jewish shop in Toulon on Sunday night, and similar attacks on several other synagogues and Jewish institutions including at least one school.
President Jacques Chirac called the attacks "intolerable" and "unacceptable," and Justice Minister Lionel Jospin said police should crack down on "all acts and all attempted acts that are racist in character or antisemitic."
Henri Hajdenberg, president of CRIF, the umbrella body for French Jewish secular groups, blamed the attacks on extremist members of France's large North African population.
Germany has also seen a wave of attacks on Jewish sites in recent weeks.
Just before Yom Kippur, a crowd of about 100 Palestinian and Lebanese demonstrators tried to storm the Old Synagogue in Essen. The synagogue is a Jewish museum and Holocaust memorial center and is not used for worship.
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer condemned the attack and said German authorities would not permit Jewish institutions in Germany to be targets of such violence.
In Italy, security was bolstered at synagogues, embassies, airports, and Jewish and foreign schools.
Milan Police Chief Giovanni Finazzo said on Friday that US and Israeli consulates were under 24-hour guard and that "other potential targets" would also be watched around the clock.
Clashes have been reported in Rome between young Jewish militants and right-wing extremists demonstrating in favor of Palestinians.
Italian Jewish leaders blasted what they said was one-sided media coverage that cast blame for the crisis on Israel and inflamed antisemitic feelings.
"The Italian mass media have started a disinformation campaign that nourishes anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred," Leone Paserman, the head of the Rome Jewish community, said in a statement.
Australian police are investigating two incidents in Sydney and Canberra, where gasoline bombs were thrown at Jewish targets during Succot. Also in Sydney, some 2,000 demonstrators marched on the US Consulate, where they burned Israeli and American flags and set fire to posters of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
Argentine officials strengthened the police presence near Jewish and Arab institutions. Security was also beefed up at the US Embassy and at border crossings. In addition, Argentine President Fernando de la Rua convened the heads of the security forces and met with Jewish and Arab community leaders.
(JTA correspondents Jeremy Jones in Sydney and Nicholas Penchaszadeh in Buenos Aires contributed to this report.)