Europe's Jewish community faces increased anti-Semitism during Gaza war

A new report highlights a surge in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe, eroding progress made in combatting hate.

AFP July 11, 2024
A man wearing a kippah waits for the start of an anti-Semitism demonstration. PHOTO: REUTERS

Europe's Jewish community is facing a "rising tide of anti-Semitism", with the conflict in the Middle East "eroding" progress made in the fight against it, a European Union rights watchdog said Thursday.

"The spillover effect of the conflict in the Middle East is eroding hard-fought-for progress" in tackling anti-Jewish hate, Fundamental Rights Agency director Sirpa Rautio said.

This was jeopardising the success of the EU's first-ever strategy on combatting the issue adopted in 2021, she added.

"Jews are more frightened than ever before," she warned, as the rights body published a report on anti-Semitism in Europe.

Even before Hamas's October 7 attack which triggered the war in Gaza, the study found that 96 percent of European Jews said they had encountered anti-Semitism in the previous year.

To assess the impact the conflict in the Middle East has had on anti-Semitism in Europe, the report relied on information collected from 12 Jewish organisations in 2024.

"FRA's consultation with national and European Jewish umbrella organisations in early 2024 shows a dramatic surge" in anti-Semitic attacks, Rautio said.

In France, 74 percent of Jews felt the conflict affected their sense of security, the highest rate among the countries surveyed.

Across Europe, 76 percent reported hiding their Jewish identity "at least occasionally" and 34 percent avoid Jewish events or sites "because they do not feel safe", a press release accompanying the report said.

Besides the 2024 data, the bulk of the report by the Vienna-based agency was based on an online survey conducted from January to June 2023 -- before the war in Gaza broke out.

Eighty percent of Jews surveyed said they feel anti-Semitism has worsened in recent years.

The most common "negative stereotypes" those questioned encountered accused Jews of "holding power and control over finance, media, politics or economy".

Many also reported encountering denials of Israel's right to exist as a state.

A total of four percent of respondents in 2023 said they had experienced anti-Semitic physical attacks in the 12 months prior to the survey -- double the number recorded in 2018.

About 60 percent of those asked said they were not satisfied with their national governments' efforts to combat anti-Semitism.

The survey covered 13 EU countries home to 96 percent of the bloc's Jewish population: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and Sweden.

It was the third of its kind, following those of 2013 and 2018.


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