SACC by EJC Head of Crisis Management Elie Kagan recently engaged in a comprehensive interview with Actualité Juive. During the discussion, Mr. Kagan delved into the alarming rise of antisemitic incidents in Europe and shared insights into the proactive measures implemented to combat this troubling trend.
We are dismayed by the density of the reports compiled by SACC each week, documenting antisemitic acts and statements. How do you analyze the sequence experienced by European Jewish citizens today?
Elie Kagan: SACC by EJC has been working on this issue for many years. Firstly, we observe an increase in the number of antisemitic incidents in Europe for over a decade. Events involving the security of Israel have long led to a significant growth in antisemitic acts. Simultaneously, anti-Zionism and anti-Israeli ideology are just a new expression of antisemitism. Another phenomenon is the development of movements like BDS or other antisemitic organizations that have expanded their influence not only on social networks but also on university campuses. In the current context, these elements put together can only lead to a dramatic growth in the number of antisemitic incidents, as well as demonstrations where antisemitic and/or pro-Hamas statements are made.
Your reports categorize threats by their nature, establishing five severity levels from 1 to 5. How do you determine these levels, and concerning previous years, have the thresholds been surpassed?
E.K.: For many years, we have been recording antisemitic incidents to understand the importance, nature, location, and degree of severity of the threat. We have established several severity levels to conduct relevant analyses. This approach also allows communities to take appropriate measures based on the threat. The number of incidents reported for almost a month indeed sets a grim record. We also fear that the number of physical assaults may increase.
Are there “structuring” elements that characterize the antisemitism we are witnessing today?
E.K.: Antisemitism is a crime in many countries. Consequently, some have dressed it in anti-Zionism. Added to this is the immense impact of social networks on citizens and the spread of fake news. The importance of social networks as an information tool, or rather disinformation, has undoubtedly evolved in recent years. For example, following the explosion near the Gaza hospital on October 17th last year, we could observe how quickly the Hamas narrative became viral on social networks. Purveyors of hatred have no qualms about spreading false information serving their cause, with disastrous consequences they can have on the hatred of Jews in Europe.
As someone in close contact with them, what is the mindset of the Jewish communities in Europe in the face of this resurgence of antisemitism?
E.K.: We are in continuous and close connection with all Jewish communities in Europe. European Jewish citizens are extremely concerned about their safety and that of their children. The content of photos and videos from the October 7th massacre in Israel has shocked the Jewish communities, and demonstrations in support of Hamas only confirm their concern. On October 7th, Jewish communities and law enforcement immediately took measures to increase the level of protection. However, most communities need financial assistance to enhance their level of protection. Most European countries have not allocated funds for the protection of Jewish communities. Therefore, we have asked the European Commission to urgently provide funds to better secure the Jewish communities in Europe. We are awaiting the response from the European Commission.