Thursday, July 25, 2024

Europeans are experiencing a ‘wave of antisemitism’, survey finds

Must read

Europe is experiencing “a wave of antisemitism” caused partly by the conflict in the Middle East, the EU’s leading rights agency has said, as it published a survey finding that nearly all respondents reported recent anti-Jewish prejudice.

The survey by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights found that 96% of respondents had experienced antisemitism in the year before the survey, which was carried out between January and June 2023. A total of 84% considered antisemitism to be a “very big” or “fairly big problem” in their country, while fewer than one in five (18%) thought governments were handling it effectively.

Although the survey – of 8,000 Jewish people aged over 16 – was completed before the 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel that led to ferocious reprisals on Gaza, the Vienna-based agency also collected data from 12 Jewish umbrella organisations. Some of these organisations have reported a 400% increase in antisemitic attacks since October 2023.

“Europe is witnessing a wave of antisemitism, partly driven by the conflict in the Middle East,” the agency’s director, Sirpa Rautio, said. “This severely limits Jewish people’s ability to live in safety and with dignity. We need to build on existing laws and strategies to protect communities from all forms of hate and intolerance, online as well as offline.”

The survey was the third of its kind carried out by the agency since 2013 and found only marginal signs of progress in some areas.

Four in five people (80%) told the agency that antisemitism had increased over the past five years in their country, while 64% of respondents who encountered antisemitism said they experienced it “all the time”. More than nine in 10 described antisemitism on the internet and social media as a “very big” problem.

Six in 10 people said they worried about their family’s safety, while a similar number (62%) said the Arab-Israeli conflict affected their feeling of safety.

The survey covered 13 EU countries, where 96% of the EU’s Jewish population live, including France, Germany, Poland and Spain.

In France – home to the largest Jewish population in Europe – Jewish communities reported feeling torn before Sunday’s second-round election.

In the first month after the 7 October attacks antisemitic acts “exploded” in France, the interior minister, Gérard Darmanin, said last year, reporting 1,000 such incidents.

Since 7 October, Germany has also seen an increase in anti-Jewish violence, with the country’s antisemitism commissioner warning that it risked transporting the country “back to its most horrific times”.

The EU agency is urging governments to fund the security and protection needs of Jewish communities, including schools, synagogues and community centres. It also calls for making full use of EU legislation regulating the internet, the Digital Services Act, to remove antisemitic content online, as well as intensifying efforts to prosecute antisemitic hate crimes.

Latest article