Antisemitism never disappeared in Europe, commission rep says

Christian group founder says this fight against antisemitism is for all who believe in freedom.

Lazio players wear shirts with a picture of Anne Frank before their Serie A soccer match against Bologna at the Dall'Ara stadium in Bologna, Italy. (photo credit: REUTERS/ALBERTO LINGRIA)
Lazio players wear shirts with a picture of Anne Frank before their Serie A soccer match against Bologna at the Dall'Ara stadium in Bologna, Italy.
Preparing a survey documenting the rise of antisemitism, a European Commission representative said that anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe is alive and well.
“First of all, we should be clear, antisemitism never disappeared,” Johannes Börmann, deputy European Commission Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism said on the “European Report” monthly program this week.
Speaking to Tomas Sandell, founding director of the Christian organization European Coalition for Israel, which hosts the show, he said that more than 70 years after the end of the end of the Holocaust, the spread of antisemitism is again threatening the very fabric of Europe.
“We see expressions of antisemitism on the extreme left and the extreme right, and also coming from Islamist extremists,” he said.
“The first half of the year has marked a peak in antisemitic incidents both in the UK and in Germany,” he said, but added that “most incidents are never reported, hence the full extent of the antisemitic incidents cannot be measured.”
Already in 2013, an EU survey revealed that three-quarters of all European Jews felt an increase of antisemitism in the last five years.
“Still five years later we can expect this percentage to be even higher," Börmann said, revealing that the European Commission will issue a survey on the subject next year.
The “European Report” is a political discussion program televised in the European Parliament and addresses issues concerning Europe and the Middle East.
The European Coalition for Israel is a Christian initiative promoting European-Israeli cooperation. It counts among its goals the promotion of closer ties between Israel and the European Union, confronting antisemitism in Europe and educating about its long and tragic history, and supporting ways for peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Israel and the Middle East.
In December 2015, Katharina von Schnurbein was appointed European Commission Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism. She is currently on study leave. 
MEP Lars Adaktusson, said that his home country of Sweden corroborated the commission’s findings so far.
“The situation is really concerning, with daily harassments of Jewish individuals in Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, and with Nazis marching last month on the street in Sweden’s second largest city Göteborg,” Adaktusson said.
Benny Fisher of the European Jewish Congress, said a major concern was about the lack of support from society at large, where young people today feel less inclined to speak up against antisemitism.
“Despite these alarming reports most Jewish communities in Europe still have to pay for their own security,” he said.
Echoing the panel’s sentiments on the rise of antisemitism, Sandell said it should not be up to the Jewish communities alone to defend themselves, but that the continent in its entirety needs to remain vigilant against the threats of antisemitism.
“The fight against antisemitism is not only for the Jewish community, it is for all of us who believe in freedom and open society, and we shall continue to stand vigilant against this threat to Europe,” he said.
Despite the negative news, the European Coalition for Israel was able to hold an event in Uppsala, Sweden, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. It was the only event of its kind in Sweden.
The Swedish government is still not welcome in Israel after one of its first decisions having come to power three years ago, when it immediately recognized a Palestinian state, despite objection from the national parliament, but Sandell said that in Sweden one can sense a small breeze of change. One day ahead of the Balfour centennial, the Swedish Foreign Ministry announced that it would stop its funding of a Palestinian women’s center named after a convicted terrorist. The decision came after a Danish inquiry, which resulted in both the Danish and the Norwegian government freezing their funding.