Chief Rabbis Amar and Metzger
Chief Rabbis Amar and MetzgerFlash 90

Israel's chief rabbis have urged the European Union to investigate the growing anti-Semitism in Europe.

Rabbi Yona Metzger and Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar on Wednesday sent a letter to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, asking him to form a special task force to study the issue. The letter was sent in the wake of the brutal attack on an American yeshiva student during a visit to Venice, Italy.

"This serious incident joins a series of incidents from the past year which may indicate a trend toward an increase in the phenomenon of anti-Semitism throughout Europe," the rabbis wrote, noting that "since the terrible massacre in Toulouse we often hear about violence directed against Jews in Europe."

"We express to you our fear that the latest attack, in which a young Jew paid the price for his choice to go out in public dressed in the attire of a yeshiva student, testifies to the existence of a rooted problem," said Rabbis Metzger and Amar.

They asked Van Rompuy to establish a special committee "to examine the extent of anti-Semitism on the continent and its sources and submit suggestions to solve the problem."

At the end of their letter, the rabbis wrote, "The memories of the victims of the Holocaust in Europe have not abated, and the message has been learned: One can no longer remain silent while Jewish blood is spilled. As a leader of the united European committee, we see you as the most senior official who can work to eradicate the lesion and restore the peace and quiet to European Jews."

The student who was attacked in Venice was knocked unconscious when he strolled late at night in the center of the city. A band of 15 Arab youth pounced on him, dragged him into a dark corner and pummeled him, using sharp weapons.

The student lost consciousness, and the attackers fled when a passerby spotted them and called police and medics.

The police are investigating, but have but have not caught the attackers.

The Milan-based Center for Jewish Documentation's Observatory on Anti-Jewish Prejudice reported last month that the number of anti-Semitic episodes in the country soared last year.

The incidents ranged from street insults and swastika graffiti to physical aggression.

Anti-Semitism has also been on the rise in other countries in Europe. A poll released in November showed a shocking level of anti-Semitism among Germans.

According to the poll, taken by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (associated with the SPD, the Social Democratic Party of Germany), 15.8% of German residents in the former East German part of the country identify themselves with the fascistic far right, and subscribe to its beliefs, including hatred of Jews.

Official data released in October showed that there has been an increase of 45% in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in France over the past year.