Anti-Semitic Attacks Increase in Europe as Jews Report More Aggression, Fear

Anti-Semitic harassment and attacks are on the rise in Europe as more Jews report feeling under threat in some of the continent's largest nations.

According to The Guardian, the number of anti-Semitic attacks rose by 74 percent in France and 60 percent in Germany in 2018, despite condemnation of such behavior by national leaders.

The data support recent polls in which European Jews reported feeling more at risk and targeted, both online and in day-to-day life. A study published in December found that nine out of 10 Jews living in the European Union believe anti-Semitism has gotten worse over the past five years.

French government figures released this week revealed 541 recorded incidents of anti-Semitism in 2018, up from 311 in 2017. Meanwhile, across the border in the EU's largest economy, Germany, government officials said anti-Semitic offenses reached a 10-year high of 1,646—up 60 percent on the year before. Of these, 62 were physical attacks leaving 43 people requiring medical treatment. There were 37 such attacks in 2017.

The uptick in attacks supports the conclusions of an EU Agency for Fundamental Rights study released in December, which found that the continent's Jewish communities were more concerned about anti-Semitism than they had been in years.

The poll collected opinion from 16,000 Jewish people across 12 nations, discovering a fear that anti-Semitism was being normalized and spreading. Around 30 percent of respondents had suffered anti-Semitic harassment, and 90 percent believed anti-Semitism in Europe was getting worse.

More than one-third had considered leaving their country of residence out of fear of anti-Semitism, while around the same number had avoided Jewish sites or events due to safety concerns. Eight out of 10 respondents said they would not even report minor anti-Semitic incidents as they didn't think it would change anything.

But non-Jewish communities appear to be taking anti-Semitism less seriously than in the past, and many are entirely unaware that Jewish compatriots feel increasingly under threat. A Eurobarometer poll produced by the EU Commission in January found that only 36 percent of non-Jewish respondents across all 28 EU nations felt anti-Semitism was on the rise.

The study also found that non-Jewish citizens of countries with the largest Jewish communities were most concerned about anti-Semitism, with Sweden and France as particular standouts.

Another survey conducted by CNN indicated that a significant number of non-Jews still exhibited anti-Semitic prejudices and bought into historic conspiracy theories.

For example, more than 20 percent of 7,000 Europeans surveyed in Austria, France, Germany, the U.K., Hungary, Poland and Sweden still believed Jewish people had too much influence over finance and politics. Almost a quarter said Jews were too involved in conflicts and wars across the world.

Thirty two percent believed Jewish people had exploited the Holocaust—in which around 6 million Jews were murdered by the Axis powers in World War II—to "advance their position." Another 34 percent said they knew little or nothing about the Holocaust.

A combination of factors has likely caused the uptick in anti-Jewish prejudice. These include the worsening conflict in the Middle East that has led to increased anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment—particularly among European Muslims—while the rise of right-wing populist parties across the continent has seemingly encouraged those with extreme views to be more openly intolerant, The Guardian reported.

Anti-Semitism Europe Germany
A man throws a Hitler salute toward heckling leftists at a right-wing protest in Chemnitz, Germany, on August 27, 2018. The number of anti-Semitic attacks rose by 74 percent in France and 60 percent in Germany in 2018, despite condemnation of such behavior by national leaders. Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Anti-Semitic Attacks Increase in Europe as Jews Report More Aggression, Fear | World