Antisemitism in Europe

A survey of European Jewish leaders found that while concern about antisemitism is growing, the vast majority of Jews intend to stay where they are.

November 28, 2018 20:44
3 minute read.
Jewish Community protesting antisemitism in Manchester demonstration

Jewish Community protesting antisemitism in Manchester demonstration. (photo credit: RAPHI BLOOM)


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Two polls released this week have revealed that antisemitism is alive and kicking in Europe, citing statistics that should sound the alarm in Israel and Jewish communities across the globe.

According to a poll released by CNN on Tuesday, about a third of those surveyed said Jews were too influential in political affairs around the world, and a fifth of Europeans believe Jews have too much influence over the media. Shockingly, some 20% of Europeans aged 18-34 have never heard of the Holocaust. Nevertheless, two-thirds of Europeans said that commemorating the Holocaust helps ensure that such atrocities never happen again, and half said it helps combat antisemitism.

The comprehensive poll conducted by CNN/ComRes sampled some 7,000 Europeans from Austria, France, Germany, Britain, Hungary, Poland and Sweden.

“What does antisemitism look like in Europe in 2018?” the CNN report asks. “It’s a 17-year-old boy too frightened to wear a kippa on the streets of Paris. It’s an Israeli restaurant owner in Berlin who is told that he will end up in the gas chambers. It’s a 24-year-old Austrian who knows nothing about the Holocaust. It’s the armed guards outside synagogues and Jewish schools across much of Europe. It’s the online chat rooms where people peddle conspiracy theories that Jewish ‘globalists’ run the world. It can be violent or subtle. Overt or insidious. Political or personal. It can come from the Right or the Left. It exists in countries that have large Jewish populations, like France, and it also flourishes in places with smaller Jewish communities, like Poland.”

Responding to the results of the survey, Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog urged European governments to do more to combat antisemitism, particularly by including Holocaust studies as part of their school curriculum. “Antisemitism is one of the oldest diseases – racism being another such disease – for which there is no vaccine,” said Herzog.

Meanwhile, A survey of European Jewish leaders released by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) this week found that while concern about antisemitism is growing, the vast majority of Jews intend to stay where they are – and support for Israel is on the rise. The fourth Survey of European Jewish Community Leaders and Professionals, conducted every three years, polled 893 Jewish communal professionals, from rabbis to organizational directors, in 29 countries. A key finding was that 66% of European Jewish leaders expect a further rise in antisemitism over the next decade and that 68% “fully support Israel, regardless of its government’s behavior.” At the same time, 76% had no plans to personally emigrate from Europe, and just under half of them believed that there would be no significant Jewish exodus from Europe in the coming period.

One interesting trend in the survey was the negative shift from eastern to western Europe on issues from personal safety to media bias against Israel. Eastern European respondents reported higher feelings of safety – 96% – than their co-religionists – 76% – in the western part of the continent. Asked if the media in their countries demonstrated regular bias against Israel, 88% of western European respondents responded in the affirmative, compared to just 36% in eastern Europe. Since the last JDC survey in 2015, it should be noted, Jewish institutions in France, Belgium and Denmark have all experienced attacks by Islamist terrorists.

Israel clearly has a key role in helping European Jewish communities counter antisemitism while boosting security at communal institutions. Jewish communities in the Diaspora are undoubtedly strengthened by a strong Israel, visits by Israeli leaders and trips to Israel. But perhaps more crucially, in the interests of both Diaspora Jewry and Israel, the Israeli government should provide assistance to these communities whenever possible to engage local Jews in Jewish and Zionist organizational life, especially when it comes to education, to ensure Jewish continuity and support for Israel.

As we mark 71 years since that historic day on November 29, 1947, when the United Nations voted in favor of the Partition Plan for Palestine, we call on all decent people around the world to speak out for Israel and act against antisemitism – especially in its most recent incarnations as anti-Zionism and BDS – wherever it rears its ugly head.

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