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2017 Annual Assessment

1. Downturn of anti-Jewish violence in France versus its rise in the United Kingdom and Germany

As we integrate the data of the three dimensions, an aggregate picture emerges. While the number of anti-Semitic incidents and the resultant anxiety are on the rise in both the United Kingdom and Germany, they are decreasing in France. Despite similar economic and geopolitical trends throughout Europe, we observe a major difference between the three West European countries examined here. A government’s commitment to combatting anti-Semitism is the single most important factor in the decline of anti-Semitism. As mentioned as a supposition in last year’s Assessment, and more fully confirmed this year, it is thanks to French government’s unambiguous statements and concrete actions that, in 2016, the number of anti-Semitic incidents decreased and French Jews began to regain confidence in the French government’s resolve to protect them.

2. Strong condemnations of anti-Semitism by top-level political leaders matter

One interesting element we can identify in Europe and the United States is that the actions of top-level political leaders are of utmost importance. As we have mentioned, the far right comprises diverse sub-groups (white supremacists, extreme nationalists, neo-Nazis and other racist anti-Semites) in Europe and the United States the anxiety the far right engenders is more than everything else related to the disposition of those in power toward these xenophobic and reactionary forces. The more toleration they are shown by those in power, and the more space they are allowed to hold in the public sphere, the more anxious Jews rightly become. When top-level decision makers react loudly and unequivocally to anti-Semitism, as shown in the French case, anti-Jewish behaviors decrease and Jewish comfort increases.

Drawing on the European case study, we can elaborate a recommendation: Israeli and Jewish political figures should encourage political and top-level civic leaders to take a clear stand against anti-Semitism and demonstrate their commitment to the security of Jews. Declarations backed by visible actions are useful with respect to the three components of the index: (1) Anti-Semites get the message that expressions of Jew hatred are unacceptable; (2) Commitment to stand by the Jews and to vigorously pursue perpetrators deters anti-Semitic acts; (3) Jews regain trust in their country’s commitment to their security and feel comfortable as full citizens.

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