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Home > fundamentalism / shrinking secular space > Antisemitism on the rise, says European survey

Antisemitism on the rise, says European survey

Friday 15 August 2014, by siawi3


Poll of 6,000 Jewish people in eight EU member states finds three-quarters say problem has escalated over last five years

Sam Jones and Rajeev Syal

The Guardian, Friday 8 November 2013 09.30 GMT

Photo: Kristallnacht
People in Berlin examine the wreckage of shops owned by Jews after Kristallnacht in November 1938. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

A survey of discrimination and hate crimes against Jewish people in Europe, released to mark the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht (night of broken glass), suggests that antisemitism is on the rise, with three-quarters of those polled reporting an increase in the last five years and growing fears over online abuse and hate speech.

Two-thirds of those polled for the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) felt antisemitism was a problem, 76% thought the situation was getting worse and that antisemitism had increased over the last five years, and 46% said they worried about being verbally assaulted or harassed in public because they were Jewish.

A third were worried about being physically attacked, and 57% said they had heard or seen someone claim over the last year that the Holocaust was a myth or had been exaggerated.

Almost 6,000 Jewish people in eight EU member states – Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the UK – took part in the survey. The eight nations are home to 90% of the EU’s Jewish population.

The FRA, which provides expert advice to the institutions of the EU and its member states, noted that 75% of respondents felt online antisemitism was a problem, and 73% felt it had increased over the last five years.

“In almost all EU member states included in the survey, antisemitic comments on the internet emerge as an issue of primary importance to the respondents,” it said. “These results need to be taken very seriously. They prompt further questions on how to effectively protect fundamental rights in the sphere of the internet while giving due attention to freedom of expression.”

It concluded that online antisemitism could be contributing to Jewish people’s fears of becoming victims of hate crime.

One British respondent said there was now a “phenomenal” amount of antisemitic material on the internet, adding: “This is in some ways setting us backwards as now young people are circulating content like the [antisemitic hoax] Protocols of the Elders of Zion which had, prior to the internet, pretty much died out.”

The report said that although acts of antisemitic violence and vandalism gained political and media attention, Jewish people also faced discrimination in schools and the workplace.

“This should serve as a reminder of the need to address discrimination against Jews – both by ensuring effective implementation of existing laws, as well as ensuring that Jewish people are aware of the relevant protection, redress and support mechanisms and measures designed to assist people who have been discriminated against, such as national equality bodies,” it said.

The FRA called on politicians and opinion-makers to refrain from making antisemitic statements and urged them to condemn any such statements when made in public debates.

This week the US and the World Jewish Congress criticised the far-right Hungarian Jobbik party for unveiling a statue of the wartime leader Miklós Horthy, who allied Hungary with Nazi Germany.

John Mann, chair of the UK’s all-party parliamentary group against antisemitism, said he was shocked by the survey’s results. “It is extraordinary that 75 years after the terrible events of Kristallnacht, Jews are again living in fear,” he said. “The inaction of the European commission in combating antisemitism is inexcusable.”

Mann said the EU had to do more to co-ordinate Holocaust education work and to crack down on online antisemitism. “The internet is a classic EU territory because it crosses borders and the EU could have a huge impact – if it had a thorough approach to antisemitism and other hatred and abuse on the internet,” he said.

A spokesman for the Community Security Trust, which monitors antisemitism and provides security for the UK Jewish community, said the research showed that much more needed to be done to protect Jewish people across Europe.

“In some countries, including Britain, politicians and police are trying to deal with the problem, but these efforts are sorely needed everywhere,” the spokesman said.

“Jews also require basic anti-racist solidarity in all of this – solidarity that has been partial, or deliberately denied, far too often since the year 2000.”