EJC President Dr Ariel Muzicant talks with The Times of Israel about the rise of antisemitism in Europe

“The trends on display in the Netherlands, where about 40,000 Jews live, are occurring across Western Europe, Ariel Muzicant, the president of the European Jewish Congress, told The Times of Israel last week in Jerusalem. Muzicant and EJC board members were in Israel as part of a joint delegation with the American Jewish Committee.

“Lots of Jews in Europe are afraid to go to synagogue, to send their kids to school, to show a kippah or a Star of David,” said Muzicant, who lives in Vienna. “My grandchildren now wear a cap over their kippot,” he added. A father of three, Muzicant has one grandson living in Israel and several relatives considering moving there, he said.

One of the participants of the EJC delegation, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said they had a bodyguard with them around the clock. Another communal leader from their country has three, the visitor said.

“It makes your life miserable. You have to schlep a security guy around with you when you go with your spouse to the theater,” they added.

Noemi Di Segni, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, doesn’t mention her Jewish community roles at her place of work, the communal lay leader said. She does not feel safe ordering a taxi to her home. “I give an address around the corner because I don’t want the driver, who may be Turkish or Iranian, to know where I live.”

The vast majority of Muslims, she emphasized, pose no threat and share many values with Italian Jews. “But all it takes is one [person] who’s dangerous,” she said.

Dangerous people are causing some Jews in her community to hide their mezuzot and preventing them from “regularly and openly conducting Jewish lives,” Di Segni said. (Sales of a recently developed camouflaged mezuzah are skyrocketing in Europe, its makers say.)

Broadly speaking, European Jewish Congress president Muzicant said, “the bigger the percentage of the Muslim population, the more threats you have. In the Czech Republic, you don’t need security. In Germany, Austria, France, Italy — you do.”

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