Antisemitism in Europe today knows no difference between left or right political creed, origin or religion. It is a heterogeneous phenomenon that expresses itself in a wide variety of different forms. Antisemitism is displayed in crude and age-old forms, in intolerance towards the other and extreme forms of nationalism and far-right Jew-hatred, but equally in the pernicious and ever-growing antisemitic tropes and anti-Zionism of the far-left.
The normalisation of antisemitism legitimises and encourages acts of violence against Jewish individuals and institutions. In recent years, the most violent expressions of antisemitic hatred have become commonplace in Europe once again.
To cite just a few recent examples: On 19 March 2012, three Jewish children and a teacher were murdered at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, on 9 January 2015, four Jews were murdered at the Hypercacher supermarket in Paris whilst going about their weekly shopping; six days later, on 15 February 2015 a synagogue was attacked in Copenhagen, which resulted in the murder of Dan Uzan, a community volunteer, and on 4 April 2017 a 65 year-old retired physician Sarah Halimi was brutally murdered in her own apartment in Paris, as was 85 year-old Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll on 23 March 2018.
Antisemitism continues to be a persistent and pernicious danger to Jews. In the view of many Jewish communities, the situation has deteriorated to the point of calling into question the very continuation of Jewish life in Europe.
Moreover, antisemitism not only threatens Jews, but the whole society. Among extremists, it is a common denominator and an essential element of part of their politics of division and intolerance that endangers our democratic societies.
The Second survey on discrimination and hate crime against Jews in the EU of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on ‘Experiences and Perceptions of Antisemitism’ outlines how Jews experience antisemitism across 12 EU Member States, the largest ever of its kind worldwide.
The report points to rising levels of antisemitism:
- About 90% of respondents feel that antisemitism is growing in their country
- Around 90% also feel it is particularly problematic online
- And some 70% cite public spaces, the media and politics as common sources of antisemitism
- Almost 30% have been harassed, with those being visibly Jewish most affected
The FRA report shows that antisemitism appears to be so deep-rooted in society that regular harassment has become part of normal everyday life. Almost 80% do not report serious incidents to the police or any other body. Often this is because they feel nothing will change. Over a third avoid taking part in Jewish events or visiting Jewish sites because they fear for their safety and feel insecure.
The same proportion has also considered emigrating because of antisemitism.
Compared to the first FRA Survey carried out in 2013, the responses to the same questions revealed an increase in numbers when it comes to perceptions and experiences of antisemitism.
France, which is home to the largest Jewish community of Europe, saw a 74% increase in antisemitic incidents in 2018. In Germany, some 1,646 antisemitic acts were reported in 2018, according to police, marking their highest level in the past decade. 62 of these acts were violent, injuring 43 people. In the United Kingdom, reported antisemitic hate incidents hit a record high in 2018, with more than 100 recorded in every month of the year, according to the Community Security Trust (CST), an NGO that monitors and issues reports on antisemitism.
These alarming numbers show that it is time to take action against antisemitism, for the security and wellbeing of Jewish communities across Europe, and for a Europe without hatred and prejudice.