'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."