Bruce Konviser's Nov. 9 commentary critiques the Wiesenthal Center for exaggerating European anti-Semitism. He is mistaken. A poll commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League last year in five European countries found that 21% of respondents held strong anti-Semitic views. "For the first time since 1945, I am scared," said Elie Wiesel. In another interview, he elaborated, "Wherever I go ... It's all around me. The fact that in Europe, anti-Semitism has become so vicious, so vocal and acceptable, is a cause of great anguish for me."
Recently, UNESCO and the Wiesenthal Center convened a conference in Paris on the upsurge of anti-Semitism. We met with President Jacques Chirac. He assured us that attacks against Jewish institutions originated in the poorer neighborhoods outside of Paris. But when we left the Elysee Palace to meet with Baron de Rothschild a few blocks away, members of our delegation wearing yarmulkes were assaulted by Frenchmen shouting, "Jews go to Israel."
On the recent European Commission survey that found Israel to be the single greatest obstacle to world peace, EC President Romano Prodi said, "I am very concerned.... They point to the continued existence of a bias that must be condemned out of hand."
"The threat to Germany from neo-Nazis has risen to a new level," confirms German Interior Minister Otto Schily. "There have been hints that right extremists are really a great potential danger for our society.... This has now been dramatically confirmed.... "
Konviser says he's been traveling in Europe for more then a decade without noticing any anti-Semitism. I have no idea where he has been traveling, but his views contradict the widely held opinion of almost all the experts in the field.
Rabbi Marvin Hier
Founder and Dean
Simon Wiesenthal Center