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2018 Annual Assessment

In light of the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe, and efforts by EU member states to eradicate the phenomenon, we identify a need for an integrative anti-Semitism Index that can provide Israeli policy-makers and world Jewry leaders with a policy tool to monitor developments, facilitate decision-making, and assess the efficacy of implemented interventions.

Existing measurement tools only provide partial perspectives, single pieces of the anti-Semitism puzzle. Some only examine public opinion while others only check the number of incidents of violence or harassment against Jews. Occasionally, field studies examine how Jews themselves perceive anti-Semitism.

JPPI’s European Anti-Semitism Index is presented here for the fourth year. The index aims to measure the discomfort of European Jewry and the threat levels against it. This integrated index, meant as a tool for policy-makers, relates to three complementary dimensions of anti-Semitism affecting individual Jews and communal Jewish life. Our integrative index utilizes the existing ADL Global 100: Attitudes Towards Jews Index compiled from data collected by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in cooperation with various research institutes, anti-Semitic harassment figures collected by local Jewish organizations entrusted with security (such as CST in UK, and SPCJ in France), and findings regarding perceptions of anti-Semitism among Jews.

An analysis of the data and main developments, as arises from the index:
Attitudes among the general public toward European Jews have been improving 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, seen as “others,” and who are perceived as threats to the main national identity of various European countries.

Despite this overall positive trend, the number of violent anti-Semitic incidents in Europe rose dramatically in the past year. This discrepancy stems from the presence of fringe groups (radical right and radical left activists and radical Muslims) who do not influence the overall statistics and whose anti-Semitic attitudes have increased.

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 radical Muslim neighbors.

If the anti-Semitic violence in France is associated with radical Islam, in England, the anti-Semitic violence is associated more with criminal elements with a radical-right orientation. In Germany, the government identifies most of the anti-Semitic violence with the radical right (although to be fair, this is the default when the identity of the attackers is unknown). However, in the three main countries examined, the Jewish communities themselves fear violence from radical Muslims more than from any other group.

Members of Britain’s Jewish community, long an integral part of the cultural, social, economic and political fabric of the nation, are now considering emigrating in record numbers. The percentage of British Jews contemplating leaving has jumped from 19 percent in 2014 to 31 percent in 2018. This corresponds to Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure as leader of the Labour Party and head of the opposition in the British Parliament, which began in 2015. The former Chief Rabbi of Britain, Lord Jonathan Sacks, has publically rebuked Corbyn as “anti-Semitic, unfair and dangerous.” For the first time since World War II, a Western democratic-liberal party, which under Corbyn is in serious contention to become Britain’s governing power, has adopted a platform with anti-Israel elements and which expresses attitudes that smack of anti-Semitism. If Corbyn were to achieve ruling power, it would undermine the continuity of the Jewish community in Britain, harm Israel’s economic and political standing in Europe, and legitimize manifestations of anti-Semitism held as illegitimate in the post-World War Two liberal West. If the struggle championed by the British Jewish community to bring down Corbyn fails, other leftist parties in Western countries — especially those proclaiming themselves as the voice of masses of Muslim voters – will in all likelihood adopt similar positions.