The European Union Parliament marked International Holocaust Day last week and emphasized the continuing importance of the vigilant fight against antisemitism in Europe.
"The message of the parliament is clear," said President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, speaking at the ceremony, "there is no place for hatred and antisemitism in Europe."
Tajani said that the parliament must act in light of a recently published survey
showing that a majority of Europeans do not believe antisemitism is a major problem in Europe, despite the rise in antisemitic attacks and rhetoric.
Chairman of the Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog also reacted to the survey, saying "30 percent of Europeans do not know anything about the Holocaust. This is clearly a threat."
The survey found that more than four in ten Europeans (42%) were aware that there is a law against Holocaust denial in their country while more than a third were not aware of such a law, and close to a quarter didn't know. Interestingly, education about the Holocaust is widely seen as an important factor in prevention of antisemitism, but the survey highlighted that Europeans are divided about the level of education about the Holocaust in their national schools: More than four in ten Europeans thought that the Holocaust is sufficiently taught in their country's schools, but nearly the same proportion believed the opposite.
Approximately 25% of respondents understood that issues such as antisemitic violence, Holocaust denial and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries are “very important,” but they were unable to elaborate on their views due to lack of knowledge on the matter. Close to 60% of interviewees said they could not expound on the matter because they believed there were no problems in this aspect of their country.
Meanwhile, “over half of Europeans (54%) believe that the conflicts in the Middle East have an influence on the way Jewish people are perceived in their country,” the survey stated. “A majority share this opinion in 13 member states, mainly in Northern and Western Europe.”Ilanit Chernick contributed to this report.
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