Europe’s largest ever survey on antisemitism “makes for sobering reading,” according to researchers behind the exercise, after finding that Jew hatred had become “normalised” across the continent.
European Jews feel antisemitism is on the rise and are “protecting themselves by leaving their kippah at home, only discreetly displaying mezuzot, avoiding certain areas in their cities or skipping Jewish events,” they said.
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) surveyed experiences and perceptions of antisemitism in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the UK.
Almost 16,400 Jews across the 12 EU Member States were polled by Ipsos Mori and the London-based Institute of Jewish Policy Research (JPR). The 12 countries are collectively home to about 96 percent of European Jewry as their home, although about half of the FRA respondents live in the UK or France.
An astonishing 89 percent said they had seen an increase in antisemitism in the last five years, and though more than half felt their government was trying to help, 38 percent had considered emigrating, and 71 percent of Jews said they sometimes hid items they would normally wear, carry or display that identifies them as Jewish.
Of those surveyed, 28 percent said they suffered antisemitic harassment in the past year, including three percent who said they were physically attacked, while 34 percent said they avoided visiting Jewish events or sites, and 52 percent said they didn’t report abuse, the majority of which they said was online.
Researchers said: “The survey findings suggest that antisemitism pervades the public sphere, reproducing and engraining negative stereotypes about Jews.
“Simply being Jewish increases people’s likelihood of being faced with a sustained stream of abuse expressed in different forms, wherever they go, whatever they read and with whomever they engage.”
This is the second FRA survey, the first having been in 2012, but “a comparison of the 2012 and 2018 surveys shows that the perception among respondents that antisemitism is a worsening problem in the country where they live is growing”.
David Harris, chief executive of the American Jewish Congress, said: “The FRA conclusion that antisemitism has become ‘normalised’ across the EU is simply unacceptable. States have a moral responsibility to study the unique and valuable data and step up efforts to confront the antisemitism cancer.”
FRA director Michael O’Flaherty said: “Decades after the Holocaust, shocking and mounting levels of antisemitism continue to plague the EU. Member States must take note and step up their efforts to prevent and combat antisemitism. Jewish people have a right to live freely, without hate and without fear for their safety.”
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