‘Gross under-reporting’ of anti-Semitism plagues Europe, says EU agency

Third of polled European Jews admit to refraining from wearing religious garb or Jewish symbols out of fear.

A man wears a kippa.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
A man wears a kippa.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
European nations lack systematic methods of collecting data on anti-Semitism, contributing to “gross underreporting of the nature and characteristics of anti-Semitic incidents that occur,” the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) asserted on Wednesday.
In a new report on data availability, the agency stated that “few EU member states operate official data collection mechanisms that record anti-Semitic incidents in any great detail” and this lack “limits the ability of policy makers” to deal effectively with growing hate crimes.
“Incidents that are not reported are also not investigated and prosecuted, allowing offenders to think that they can carry out such attacks with relative impunity,” the organization stated.
In late 2013, the FRA reported that a third of European Jews it had polled had admitted to refraining from wearing religious garb or Jewish symbols out of fear, with a further 23 percent avoiding attending Jewish events or going to Jewish venues.
While 66% reported anti-Semitism as having a negative affect on their lives, 77% did not bother reporting abuse or harassment.
Following up on the low levels of reporting, the FRA’s most recent report postulated several causes for the lack of reporting, including a lack of relevant criminal codes among continental police forces for the categorization of Judeophobic incidents, a result of which is that such events are “subsumed under generic categories.”
While European Union regulations “define a common EU-wide criminal law approach in the field of countering severe manifestations of racism,” such rules have “not transposed fully and/or correctly all the [law’s] provisions,” the FRA found.
In fact, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta and Portugal did not have any official data on anti-Semitism available to provide the FRA, it reported.
“To tackle anti-Semitism effectively, relevant stakeholders need to be able to rely on robust data on antisemitic incidents that would enable them to target their interventions more efficiently. Such data are often lacking,” the FRA continued, warning that given the hodgepodge of methods used to track anti-Semitism in the various states it is impossible to create any “meaningful comparison of officially collected data.”
“Where data on the characteristics of incidents, victims and perpetrators are missing, policy responses can often only be at a very general level. More comprehensive and accurate data would allow for targeted policy responses.”
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post last year, former Anti-Defamation League chief Abe Foxman said that both American and European governments are failing to adequately monitor and track anti-Semitism.
“There is no serious monitoring by continental entities,” Foxman said at the time. “We [the Jewish community] take the poll, we do the measuring and they’re not doing their job, they’re not monitoring.”
Pointing a finger at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and “even governments,” he added that more must be done by national and European bodies.
“Look, we have [issues with reporting] in the United States as well,” Foxman said. “We have hate crimes legislation and half the states don’t do their job in recording, in monitoring. The FBI issues a report on religious hate crimes, which is based on volunteerism. We have a law and it’s not implemented in terms of monitoring and in Europe it’s a lot worse.”