'No Rhyme or Reason' to European Anti-Semitism

Shocking statistics reveal major upswing in anti-Semitism in Europe; 66% say anti-Semitism has 'major impact' on their lives.

Tova Dvorin,

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Flash 90

Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) is presenting to the government Sunday new statistics on anti-Semitism in Europe - and the results are revealing.

The poll, which is due to be released the day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day Monday, notes that the rise in anti-Semitic activity had led many European Jews to avoid expressing their Judaism - and to refuse to report violent incident to authorities. 

An online survey conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights revealed that in 2013, 23% of respondents refrained from attending Jewish events or religious services for fear of being attacked on their way there; 38% are afraid to wear religious symbols, like the yarmulke or kippah, in public; and 66% view anti-Semitism as having a major and constant impact on their lives. 

Worse, European Jews believe that their governments view anti-Semitism as an inevitable part of life, without a means of escape or treatment, according to the poll. 77% of European Jews are unwilling to report any incident of anti-Semitic bullying or violence to authorities - whether governmental organizations or non-governmental religious groups.

33% are afraid they will become a victim of anti-Semitic violence; 29% are considering emigration because of it. 

Anti-Semitism online was also a core issue; 75% of European Jews said they had been exposed to anti-Semitism online, in several different forms - through blog posts, social media, YouTube videos, and more.

The worst countries for anti-Semitism, according to the report, are Hungary, Belgium, Sweden, and France. Anti-Semitism was less virulent - on a relative scale - in the UK, Italy, Germany, and Latvia. 

The news surfaces just one day after two high-profile anti-Semitic incidents made headlines worldwide. On Saturday, an employee of the Majdanek concentration camp museum in Poland was charged for hate crimes, after he distributed anti-Semitic and anti-Israel posters in Lublin; later that day, pigs' heads were sent to the Israeli embassy and a synagogue in Rome - with derogatory messages about the Holocaust and references to Zionist figure Theodor Herzl inside. 

Bennett: Assimilation the Primary Concern

In an interview on IDF Radio Sunday, Bennett noted that the trends are worrying not because of the physical threat to European Jews - but rather, because of the spiritual and cultural threat anti-Semitic attitudes present. 

"Anti-Semitism continues to shut down and silence the Jews," Bennett stated. "There is an increase in paralysis and fear, but not in the number of incidents reported [. . .] the most alarming result is the increase in assimilation." 

"In the end, European governments have expressed alarm over the trend - but what we really need to see is more efficient action [against the phenomenon]," Bennett stressed. "We as the State of Israel should endeavor to strengthen Jewish identity [abroad] in order to prevent more assimilation."

Walla! notes Sunday that according to Bennett, anti-Semitism has nothing to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict, but is a phenomenon unto itself.

"Giving 'reasons' for anti-Semitism only legitimizes it," the MK was quoted by the daily as saying. "Anti-Semitism does not have reason or justification."