Anti-Semitism on the rise, EU report finds

An Orthodox Jewish man cross the street in Marseille, France. ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock
An Orthodox Jewish man cross the street in Marseille, France. ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

.- A recent survey of Jewish people living in the European Union found that over a quarter of respondents had been the victims of anti-Jewish harassment over the past year.

 

The report, titled “Experiences and perceptions of antisemitism - Second survey on discrimination and hate crime against Jews in the EU,” was published on December 10. The report was published by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), which conducted a similar poll in 2012.

 

Twenty-eight percent of respondents said that they had been subjected to anti-Semitic harassment over the past year, a number which grew to 37 percent among respondents who said that they could be recognized as Jewish.

 

A total of three percent of respondents said that they had been physically attacked due to anti-Semitism over the past five years.

 

This report “confirms what we’ve heard anecdotally in recent years: more than ever European Jews are fearing for their safety and questioning whether there is a future for them in their home countries,” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a published statement on the organization’s website.

 

Nearly eight out of 10 of those who were harassed said that they did not report the harassment to the police.

 

The survey, which was conducted online, received responses from over 16,000 people over the age of 16 and was was carried out between May and June 2018. It included respondents living in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Latvia was also included in the initial survey, but a low number of responses led the FRA to include its data as an annex to the report. These countries contain 96 percent of the EU’s estimated Jewish population.

 

The survey showed that 85 percent of respondents said that they believed that anti-Semitism is the “biggest social or political problem” in their country, with nearly nine out of 10 respondents reporting that they felt that anti-Semitism had increased over the past five years. This number is an increase of 19 percentage points since the 2012 survey.

 

Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed said that anti-Semitic attitudes were “most problematic” on the internet, including social media.

 

A similarly large majority - 73 percent - reported that public spaces were home to anti-Semitic attitudes.

 

Nearly the same percentage of people said that they viewed anti-Semitism as problematic in the media and in political life--71 and 70 percent, respectively.

 

About half of those surveyed said that they were worried about further harassment in the coming year, and 40 percent said they were worried about being physically attacked due to being Jewish. Just over a third of respondents said they had taken steps to avoid visiting Jewish sites or events due to safety fears, and 38 percent said that they are considering leaving their home country because they do not feel safe.

 

One respondent, a woman in her 40s from Sweden, said that “I never wear any Jewish symbols publicly and I always look over my shoulder when I attend a Jewish event.” Another respondent, a Belgian woman in her 30s, said that she was constantly worried about the safety of her child at a Jewish school, and that she had considered sending him somewhere else.

 

The FRA found that 70 percent of respondents said that they do not think their national government is doing enough to combat anti-Semitism, and that these efforts are “ineffective.”

 

“We call on all European governments to live up to and fully implement the commitments they made last week in the Council of the European Union’s unanimously adopted ‘Declaration on the Fight Against Anti-Semitism and the Development of a Common Security Approach to Better Protect Jewish Communities and Institutions in Europe,’” said Greenblatt.

 

“Those commitments must translate into greater security for Jews across Europe, allowing them to live openly and freely as Jews.”