A new study, which finds high levels of antisemitism in Europe, has refuelled discussions about antisemitism, as well as anti-Muslim hatred and other forms of racism and intolerance in Europe. The report by the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) – as well as another conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – present evidence of growing antisemitism and the harassment of and attacks on Jews in EU states. The FRA report, an annual overview and update, also bemoans the inadequacy of reporting on antisemitic bias and violence in the EU states. In some nations, for example, there were no statistics at all for 2017 and 2018.
The FRA report tracks antisemitism over eleven years – between 2008 and 2018 – in the EU states. A large majority of Jewish respondents (85%) considers discrimination and hate crime against Jews a problem in their country. A total of 89% believe that antisemitism has grown since 2003 in their home nation. Half of respondents consider antisemitism to be a problem. Those countries most concerned about the issue are: Sweden (81%), France (72%), Germany (66%), the Netherlands (65%), the UK (62%) and Italy (58%).
These findings support the more recent ADL report, released in November, which illustrates that one in four Europeans harbor antagonistic attitudes toward Jews. The survey found growing issues of Jew hatred in many countries in Central and Eastern Europe. In Poland, antisemitic attitudes rose to 48% of the population, up from 37% in 2015. Roughly three out of four Polish citizens said that “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.” Antisemitic attitudes are most prevalent in Poland, Ukraine and Hungary, where the pollsters found that 48%, 46% and 42% of the populations harbored such views, respectively. The survey found relevant decreases in Austria and Italy.
The FRA survey documents that many antisemites are acting on these biases, ever more frequently with some form of violence. The FRA underscored that: “We have observed an increase in acts of violence against Jews in certain countries," according to Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, a scientific adviser to the FRA. "The kind of antisemitism that permeates these societies makes Jews feel they cannot live like others and that they cannot live as Jews in their home countries."
This, concludes the FRA, limits the ability of policymakers to take measures and implement courses of action to combat antisemitism effectively and decisively, and to assess the effectiveness of existing policies. The report includes sources that deal explicitly with such policies and programs, including a “Compendium of Practices for Combating Hate Crime.”
The FRA suggested that given the lack of quality data on manifestations of antisemitism, member states could also conduct regular victimization surveys that include questions on the experiences of Jewish people of hate crimes, hate speech, and discrimination.
“The inadequate recording of hate crime incidents,” concludes the report, ”including those of antisemitic nature, coupled with victims’ hesitance to report incidents to the authorities,” contributes to the “gross under-reporting of the extent, nature, and characteristics of the antisemitic incidents” in the EU.
While the FRA survey is valuable, it could be more so had it collated the harassment and violence statistics from the individual states.