Alarming early figures from Euro antisemitism poll

By Mark Gardner, October 31, 2013
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Next week, on the eve of Kristallnacht, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) of the EU will publish the results of its keenly-awaited survey, “Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of hate crime, discrimination and antisemitism”.

It covers countries in which 90 per cent of European Jews live, namely Britain, France, Hungary, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Latvia.

The FRA collects data on human rights and racism for EU policy-makers. My own organisation, CST, has worked very closely with both it and European Jewish partners for many years.

This survey arose from our shared concern that Europe’s politicians and lawmakers needed to understand, and act upon, a situation that seems to have worsened considerably since 2000.

Crucially, our worries were shared by the European Commission, which actually ordered the survey. It needed the information because most countries (Britain being an exception) held insufficient data. Furthermore, standardisation enables individual countries to be held to account.

In France, thousands of Jews have moved to Israel, North America and Britain. In Hungary, the situation is also very concerning, but very different, deriving from far-right nationalists. Then, there is Malmo in Sweden, widely regarded as the worst example of a local community living in fear.

In Britain, we are relatively fortunate. CST and the police have had excellent relations since the 1990s and, over the past decade, our politicians have taken antisemitism increasingly seriously.

Many of our continental cousins look on with envy, and really need this survey to kick-start better responses from local officialdom.

The very few statistics that have already been revealed contain much food for thought. They include:
- Seven per cent of respondents experienced some form of antisemitic attack or threats in the last five years.
- Twenty-six per cent experienced antisemitic harassment at least once in the year before the survey.
- Seventy-six per cent of victims of antisemitic harassment, 64 per cent of victims of physical attack or threats, and 52 per cent of victims of vandalism did not report the incident to the police, nor to any other organisation.
- Twenty-two per cent of respondents sometimes avoid “Jewish events or sites” because of safety concerns.

These figures are European totals. The UK figures are likely to be less alarming, but it remains to be seen if they will be substantially different.

The most striking figures released thus far concern Belgium, France and Hungary, where between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of respondents said that they had considered emigrating because they did not feel safe.

Mark Gardner is director of communications at CST

Last updated: 4:45pm, October 31 2013