Jews are being made to feel increasingly unwelcome in Europe. Israel’s
policy-makers must begin preparing for an influx of European Jews who have come
to the realization that the “renaissance” of European Jewry after the Holocaust
is a false hope. That seems to be the operative conclusion of a major survey of
European Jewry conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental
The full report, based on a survey of 5,100 Jews living in
France, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Hungary, Romania and Latvia that began
in September 2012 and ended last month, will be presented next month in
But JTA obtained some preliminary results.
A quarter of
respondents said they avoided visiting visibly Jewish places and wearing visibly
Jewish symbols such as a yarmulke for fear of anti-Semitism. The numbers were
higher in Sweden, France and Belgium where 49 percent, 40% and 36%,
respectively, said they did.
In Hungary, 91% of respondents said
anti-Semitism has increased in the past five years. That figure was 88% in
France, 87% in Belgium and 80% in Sweden. In Germany, Italy and Britain, some
60% identified a growth in anti- Semitism, compared to 39% in Latvia.
are Jews’ impressions simple paranoia. According to a 2011 study the Bielefeld
University undertook on behalf of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, more than 40%
of citizens 16 years and older in seven EU countries agree with the statement
that Israel is carrying out “a war of extermination” against Palestinians. And
since visibly identifiable Jews are connected with Israel, an astounding number
of Europeans feel a tremendous amount of opprobrium for anything connected to
In addition, Europeans have launched an attack on Jewish – and
Muslim – ritual practices such as circumcision and ritual slaughter. A poll for
the German Focus magazine taken after a Cologne court ruled that circumcision
was prohibited because it constituted “physical harm against newborn babies”
found that 56% of those surveyed thought the judgment was right, compared with
35% who were against the ruling and 10% undecided. And a poll commissioned by
Britain’s Jewish Chronicle and published in March found that 38% of the British
population favored a ban on “male circumcision for religious reasons,” while 35%
were against a ban and 27% were undecided.
Unsurprisingly, according to
the EU survey, in three of the nine states surveyed – Belgium, France and
Hungary – between 40% and 50% of respondents said they had considered emigrating
because they did not feel safe there.
Many European Jews, obviously,
intend to stay put.
Some may plan to relocate inside Europe to cities
with larger Jewish populations where they feel safer.
Another very real
and viable option, however, is relocation to Israel. Unfortunately, according to
a Jewish People Policy Institute assessment for 2011-2012, there seems to be no
Israeli political determination to set up appropriate structures to ease the
professional and educational integration of new immigrants from
non-Russian-speaking European countries.
The JPPI’s Dov Maimon has
recommended a few steps to facilitate European Jewry’s aliya, which include:
encouraging organizations like the mostly North American-focused Nefesh B’Nefesh
and the French AMI (Alya & Meilleure Intégration) to expand their
activities; streamlining the process of recognizing foreign degrees,
professional licenses and the opening of small or medium businesses; making
military enlistment regulations more flexible.
And as writer Hillel
Halkin recently pointed out in an essay that appeared on the Internet site
Mosaic, attracting European Jewry depends, ironically, on Israel becoming a more
European country – “more soundly and efficiently run, more economically
affordable, more environmentally caring, more peaceful, more
Our political leaders might want to refrain from making public
declarations calling on Europe’s Jews to abandon ship. In 2004, president
Jacques Chirac attacked prime minister Ariel Sharon for calling France the home
of “the wildest anti-Semitism” and for French Jewry to emigrate “as early as
Nevertheless, Israel should prepare both operationally and
conceptually to absorb thousands of European Jews.
Their exodus would
mark Europe’s failure to learn the lessons of the Holocaust, but it would also
be a tremendous boon to the Jewish state.