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Europe: Jewish Life 'Unsustainable' Due to Rising Anti-Semitism

While violent attacks are decreasing, their intensity grows, Kantor Center report reveals.
By Yoni Kempinski
First Publish: 4/27/2014, 10:01 AM / Last Update: 4/27/2014, 10:22 AM

President of the European Jewish Congress Dr. Moshe Kantor spoke Sunday about the fact that Jews feel less welcome and more insecure in large parts of Europe during the release of the findings regarding the situation of anti-Semitism worldwide in 2013.

Kantor was speaking at a press conference where the annual findings for 2013 were released by The Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry and the Moshe Kantor database for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University, in cooperation with the European Jewish Congress.

Results from the 2013 survey show that anti-Semitic attacks are growing in their intensity and cruelty. The number and type of violent attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions is worsening.

During 2013, there were 554 registered violent anti-Semitic acts, perpetrated with weapons or without, by arson, vandalism and direct threats, against persons, synagogues, community centers and schools, cemeteries, monuments and private property.

The highest number of recorded incidents comes from France: 116, a rise in violent cases has also been noted in the UK, with 95 cases compared to 84 in 2012, and in Canada, 83 compared to 74; in Germany: 36 compared to 23; 23 in the Ukraine, compared to 15; 15 cases in Russia (11 in 2012), and 14 in Hungary (12 in 2012).

Jews: Europe's 'most targeted minority'

We also learn that Jews remain, in parts of Europe, the most targeted minority, especially relative to its numbers. In France, for example, Jews are around 1% of the population, while 40% of the racist violent attacks in 2013 were against Jews.

“As we see in these findings in addition to results from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency survey released in November, Jews do not feel safe or secure in certain communities in Europe,” Kantor said.

“According to that survey, almost half of the Jewish population is afraid of being verbally or physically attacked in a public place because they are Jewish and 25% of Jews will not wear anything that identifies them as Jewish or go near a Jewish institution for fear of an attack.”

“Normative Jewish life in Europe is unsustainable if such huge numbers of European Jews are forced to live in fear and insecurity," Kantor continued. "European governments must be pressed to address this issue with utmost urgency.”

Dr. Kantor also spoke about how hate and incitement can easily translate into violence.

“It is often easy to ignore such types of anti-Semitism - because there are usually no direct victims, no physical harm, but the influence of such simple acts of hate on masses of young people is a dangerous source of anti-Semitism for the future,” Kantor said. “However, we received a stark lesson two weeks ago in Kansas City that there are many dangerous anti-Semites out there who just need the trigger and the opportunity to transfer their hate speech into violent action.”

“This is why we must always continue to monitor the sources of hate in order that our communities can live in security," he continued. "We often face the dilemma of whether to ignore such so-called 'harmless' acts of hate, usually spread verbally, through hate-speech or through literature. But by truly understanding the dangerous potential of this behavior we dare not ignore it.”