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2019 Annual Assessment

  • A recent French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) poll found that nearly nine in ten Jewish college students in France have experienced anti-Semitism on campus.1 Of those students, 85 percent said that they were subjected to an anti-Semitic trope, 75 percent said they had been on the receiving end of Jewish and Holocaust jokes, and 19 percent said they had been subjected to anti-Semitic “aggression.” The situation is clearly deteriorating and not only on campuses: according to the French government, anti-Semitic acts in France increased by 74 percent over the previous year. Anti-Jewish stereotypes and among the activists of the populist “yellow vest” social movement conspiracy theories associated with Jews are especially high (30 percent as compared to 10 percent in the general population). Despite efforts invested in Holocaust education, one of five French young adults say they have never heard of the genocide of Jews during the Second World War. 2
  • In a major break with the past, the German Agency for Domestic Security has revealed what was well-known by local Jews: Muslim migrants have imported from their countries of origin strong anti-Semitic prejudices and a large proportion of the anti-Jewish violent incidents are perpetrated by Muslims. 3
  • While anti-Semitism in France and Germany largely comes from fringe populations, in Britain, it emanates from what may be its next ruling party, which has been described as “institutionally anti-Semitic.” Drawing on extensive research, a report sponsored by the CST (the security organization of British Jews) says the Labour party has failed to prevent itself from becoming a host for contemporary anti-Semitism, failed to effectively tackle anti-Semitism, and has failed to root out a culture of anti-Semitism denial and victim-blaming.4
  • The biggest spike in violent incidents against Jews was in Ukraine (paradoxically, a country in which both the newly elected President and the Prime Minister happened to be Jewish), which registered an increase of more than 50 percent. This increase emerged against the backdrop of renewed nationalism in Eastern Europe and attempts to whitewash and glorify the nationalist leaders and movements of the past who were also responsible for the murder and expulsion of Jews before and during World War II. In May 2017, the Pew Research Center conducted a study of 2,000 residents in each of Central and Eastern Europe’s 18 countries. The study found that 20 percent of the respondents did not want Jews in their country, and 30 percent did not want Jews as neighbors. In addition, 22 percent of Romania’s citizens and 18 percent of Polish citizens were interested in denying the right of Jews to citizenship in their country.5
  • Other countries are not in much better shape: the majority of Austrian adults do not know that six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.6

An analysis of the data and main developments in Europe, as arises from the JPPI’s 2019 Anti-Semitism Index, indicates that:

      • General public attitudes toward European Jews have somewhat improved over the past few years. It is possible that these sentiments are linked to the rise in negative attitudes toward Middle Eastern and African immigrants, who are perceived to threaten the primary national identity of various European countries.
      • Despite the overall positive trend, the number of violent anti-Semitic incidents rose dramatically in the past year. This discrepancy stems from the presence of fringe groups, radical right and radical left activists and radical Muslims.
      • These three groups, who combine to make up between one-fifth to one-third of the total population in the various European countries, combine to create a critical mass that (unofficially) blocks the comfortable integration of Jews to the local public sphere.
      • The number of violent anti-Semitic attacks against Jews rose in the three main countries examined. In France, despite the fact that the total number of anti-Semitic incidents decreased, violent radicalism increased and included the brutal murders of two elderly Jewish women at the hands of their devout Muslim neighbors.16
      • If the anti-Semitic violence in France is associated with radical Islam, in England, the anti-Semitic violence is associated more with a radical-right orientation. In Germany, the government identifies most of the perpetrators of anti-Semitic violence as belonging to the radical right (a caveat: this is the conclusion made when the identity of an attacker is unknown). However, in the three main countries examined, the Jewish communities themselves fear violence from radical Muslims more than from any other groups.
      • While anti-Semitic sentiment in Western Europe continues to decline, Jews are concerned about their future and many do not feel safe to express their Jewish identities in public. A third of European Jews are considering emigrating, and many more do not see their children’s future on the continent.
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