Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

EU survey shows high anxiety but threat level remains hidden

    Demonstrators at far-right rally in Erfurt, Germany, in May this year
    Demonstrators at far-right rally in Erfurt, Germany, in May this year

    The gloomy headlines must have had some Israelis wondering why the planes are not already on their way to airlift the Jews of Europe out of danger.

    A new survey of Jews in eight countries, commissioned by the European Union and published on the eve of the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht at the end of last week, has recorded a significant level of anxiety about antisemitism.

    It prompted Israeli MK Shimon Ohayon, who chairs a Knesset committee on antisemitism, to remark “there are now places on the continent where Jews can no longer live”.

    On the face of it, the figures, based on an online poll of more than 5,800 Jews carried out by the London-based Institute for the Jewish Policy Research (JPR) for the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) — probably the largest ever survey of European Jewry — make uncomfortable reading.

    The FRA was said to be particularly shocked by the nearly half of Jews in Hungary and France — the two countries with consistently the highest proportion of concern about antisemitism — who had considered emigrating for reasons of security.

    That as many as 60 per cent of Jews always or often avoid publicly wearing symbols that identify them as Jews in a country with supposedly liberal credentials such as Sweden is chastening.

    Even in the country with the lowest level of anxiety about antisemitism, the UK, one in five of those sampled reported experiencing antisemitic harassment in the 12 months before the poll. (Latvia is lower, but JPR questions the reliability of the findings in that country.)

    It is hardly a consolation that, in general, Jews consider racism a greater evil than antisemitism — that is simply indicative of a greater vulnerability felt by minorities in an uncertain economic climate.

    The findings shatter the notion that prejudice is largely the preserve of the political right. Most Jews in Europe feel the bigger threat to their well-being comes from the left or Islamist extremism (with the exception of Hungary, where the far-right Jobbik party has strong parliamentary representation).

    But the survey should not be taken as the last word on the subject, only a starting-point. JPR director Jonathan Boyd has asked pertinent questions, not least: what ranks as a “high” level of antisemitism, and what can therefore be said to be a “tolerable” level?

    Those like MK Ohayon who talk of a post-war peak tend to overlook the dismal continuity of antisemitism in Communist East Europe — such as the exodus of Polish Jews in the notorious “anti-Zionist” purges of the late ’60s.

    Rising concern about online hate also raises the question of whether it reflects a greater prevalence of antisemitism or simply an easier outlet for antisemites to vent their views.

    What some people perceive as antisemitism may not always be the case. The most common “negative” remark about Jews reported by the survey sample was hearing that Israel behaves “like Nazis” towards the Palestinians. Nearly three-quarters viewed boycotting Israel as antisemitic. But neither standpoint might be automatically classified as antisemitism by agencies that monitor it.

    More importantly, the survey findings have to be taken in conjunction with other information for a fuller picture of European Jewry.

    Dr Boyd has highlighted one piece of data that emerged from the poll, although it did not appear in the FRA report. At least two-thirds — and often more — of Jews sampled felt a strong sense of belonging to the country in which they live.

    At the same time as recognising their worries, he said: “We have to acknowledge the fact that people feel quite comfortable where they are — and that’s an important counterbalance to a lot of the narrative that’s likely to come out about this.”

World

Anthony Weiner jailed for 21 months

Michael Daventry

Monday, September 25, 2017

Anthony Weiner jailed for 21 months
UK News

Our day trip to a living nightmare

Rosa Doherty

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Our day trip to a living nightmare
UK News

UCL publishes investigation into UCLU event

Daniel Sugarman

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

UCL publishes investigation into UCLU event
World

Rabbi among Mexico quake victims

Daniel Sugarman

Monday, September 25, 2017

Rabbi among Mexico quake victims
World

Trump to crackdown on Iran and its "terrorist minions", says Pence

JC Reporter

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Trump to crackdown on Iran and its "terrorist minions", says Pence
Leaders

The JC leader: On Corbyn, and on Arkush

The JC Leader

Friday, January 20, 2017

The JC leader: On Corbyn, and on Arkush
World

Writer who uncovered troll hit by online antisemitism

Lianne Kolirin

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Writer who uncovered troll hit by online antisemitism
World

Jewish groups angered at Trump HMD message

Daniel Sugarman

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Jewish groups angered at Trump HMD message
Education features

Allegations of anti-Semitism Oxford University Labour Club

Baroness Jan Royall

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Allegations of anti-Semitism Oxford University Labour Club