Anti-Semitic incidents in Europe continue to rise

UK organization: Figures show near-record level of anti-Jewish attacks since IDF operation started.

People protest against Israel's military action in Gaza during a demonstration in Valencia, July 21, 2014.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
People protest against Israel's military action in Gaza during a demonstration in Valencia, July 21, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Anti-Semitic incidents have continued spiking in parallel with the IDF operation in Gaza, with new reports of attacks on Jews coming in daily.
The apartment of a Jewish woman in Amsterdam who had an Israeli flag hanging off her balcony was the target of a fire bomb, according to local news reports on Wednesday. The fire bomb landed on a neighboring balcony.
The Mexican-born woman, Leah Rabinovitch, had been flying the flag over Amsterdam’s Kruger Square, in an eastern neighborhood heavily populated with Moroccan immigrants. She and her partner had put out the flag several weeks ago as a sign of solidarity with the IDF’s assault on Hamas.
Their downstairs neighbors displayed a Palestinian flag on their balcony and demanded that Rabinovitch remove hers. The Israeli flag’s presence led to a number of threats, including one note praising Hitler and asserting that “Jews must die.”
This incident is reminiscent of two separate but similar incidents that occurred toward the beginning of the latest Middle East flare-up, when two men were beaten in Sweden for flying Israeli flags.
In Belgium on Wednesday, a physician refused to treat a Jewish woman, saying that she should be sent “to Gaza for a few hours” to get rid of her pain.
“It reminds me of what happened in Europe 70 years ago,” the woman’s grandson told Belgian newspaper Joods Actueel (“Jewish News”). “I never thought those days would once again be repeated.”
Other recent incidents in Belgium included a clothing store refusing to serve a Jewish woman, and police removing a sign in a cafe stating that dogs were allowed but Zionists and Jews were not.
Last weekend, three cars parked in the town of Pearl River, New York, had their tires slashed and swastikas and racist messages spray-painted on them, Hudson Valley News 12 reported.
Meanwhile, a UK Jewish advisory body said Thursday that anti-Semitic incidents in Britain had risen to a near-record level since the start of Operation Protective Edge.
The Community Security Trust, which advises Britain’s estimated 260,000 Jews on safety, said figures showed a significant rise in such incidents for the first six months of the year.
“There is no excuse for this wave of racist intimidation and violence, and we call upon all good people to unequivocally condemn it,” said CST spokesman Mark Gardner.
Although the overall total this year has increased, there were fewer violent assaults recorded – down 32 percent to 22% – with the majority of incidents related to verbal abuse, graffiti, and abuse via social media.
British MP John Mann, chairman of a parliamentary group against anti-Semitism, said the report was troubling.
“From the feedback we are receiving, it is likely that the volume of anti-Semitic incidents will increase significantly before the year’s end,” he said.
Gardner said the rise in recorded anti-Semitic events this year might reflect better reporting as well as more actual incidents.
Anti-Jewish incidents have also taken place in Germany and France in recent weeks, including fire-bomb attacks on synagogues and cultural centers.
A recent report by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research revealed that almost 80% of British Jews “have felt blamed by non-Jews, at least occasionally, for the actions of the Israeli government, purely on the basis of their Jewishness.”
The rising tide of anti-Semitism parallels similar bumps during the last two rounds of armed conflict between Israel and Hamas, in 2009 and 2012, and fits in with a larger pattern of rising anti-Semitism across Europe, according to reports by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University.
European Jews have increasingly felt exposed and vulnerable, due to both the continent’s increasingly numerous and assertive Muslim population and the rise of far-right populist parties trafficking in anti-Semitism.
Up to a third of Jews whom the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency has polled in several countries say they are considering emigration as a response to increased racism, and the head of the European Jewish Congress recently said that without a reduction in the level of fear that Jewish Europeans were experiencing, communal life there would ultimately be unsustainable.
JTA contributed to this report.