Antisemitism in Europe EP Working Group on Antisemitism

Antisemitism in Europe

Antisemitism in Europe today knows no difference between left or right political creed, origin or religion. A heterogeneous phenomenon, antisemitism expresses itself in the crude and age-old forms of religious antisemitism, in intolerance towards the other and extreme forms of nationalism and far-right Jew-hatred, but equally in the pernicious and ever-growing anti-Zionism of the far-left, which often relies on antisemitic tropes.

The normalization of antisemitism on the streets, online and in mainstream society, in politics and media legitimises and encourages acts of violence against Jewish individuals and institutions. In recent years, the most violent expressions of antisemitic hatred have once again risen to the point of becoming commonplace in Europe and beyond.

To cite just a few striking examples: on 19 March 2012 three 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 while 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; 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.

This spate of attacks has sadly demonstrated that antisemitism is a global issue that needs to be addressed with a common strategy. Moreover, antisemitism poses a wider threat to society as a whole. When a Jew is assaulted in the street for being Jewish, it is essentially an assault against democratic values and the rule of law. Among extremists, antisemitism is a common denominator and an essential element of the politics of division and intolerance on which these movements thrive and which pose an existential threat to our democratic societies. They promote and feed off antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories, which have become more commonplace in recent times.

This alarming long-term growth in antisemitic incidents shows with every passing year that it is time for decision makers and civil society actors to join forces and act vigorously against antisemitism, for the security and wellbeing of Jewish communities across Europe, for a tolerant and peaceful society and for the wellbeing of our future generations.

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.

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

 Read full IHRA definition