Antisemitism sees major uptick in several EU states over last 10 years – FRA Report
‘To tackle antisemitism effectively, relevant stakeholders need to be able to rely on robust data on antisemitic incidents to enable more efficient targeting of interventions.’
By ILANIT CHERNICK
Antisemitism in several EU countries has seen a major uptick in the last 10 years, according to a new report released by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).
The report looks at the number of antisemitic incidents that have taken place between 2009 and 2019 and is an “overview of data on antisemitism as recorded by international organizations and by official and unofficial sources in the European Union (EU) Member States.”
It also includes the United Kingdom, which in 2019 was still a Member State of the EU.
Countries including Germany, France, Sweden, Poland, the Netherlands and the UK saw increases, some drastic, in antisemitic incidents over the 10 year period.
Over 2019, Germany saw 2,039 cases of antisemitism, up nearly 400 cases from the previous year. In 2009, the country saw some 1,690 cases but then dipped to around 1,200 cases until 2013. From antisemitic incidents climbed higher and higher.
The report found that the overall trend in recorded antisemitic acts of violence declined
or stabilized between 2009 and 2017. But, violent antisemitic incidents increased between 2018 and 2019 with 73 such acts being reported.
France also saw a fluctuation in antisemitism cases with 2009, 2014 and 2015 being the highest in the 10 year period. Over 2019, some 687 cases were reported up 146 cases from the previous and have continued to climb gradually since 2016.
Cases of antisemitism included issues of graffiti and vandalism, threats and antisemitic insults, homicide or attempted homicide and flyers or hate mail. Some 536 of 2019’s antisemitic incidents were related to threatening words or gestures and graffiti, hate mail or antisemitic flyers. A clear breakdown for 2018 and 2019 was not available.
The UK also saw a major uptick of antisemitic events in the 10 year period, and in 2019 alone reported 1,362 cases of antisemitism. This was almost double the number of incidents reported in 2018, which saw 672 cases of antisemitism.
The report quoted the UK’s Community Security Trust as defining such acts as “any malicious act aimed at Jewish people, organizations or property, where there is evidence that the act has antisemitic motivation or content, or that the victim was targeted because they are (or are believed to be) Jewish.”
Meanwhile, Sweden also saw higher numbers of antisemitism over this time period. However, figures for 2017 and 2019 were unavailable with the last recorded figure of 278 incidents of antisemitism being recorded in 2018.
Despite this, there was still a noticeable uptick in antisemitism over the 10 year period with 2009, 2014, 2015 and 2018 saw the highest numbers of incidents.
Interestingly a few countries in the EU reported either no or minimal antisemitic incidents. Bulgaria reported 0 cases for the second year in a row, while North Macedonia, Estonia and Malta also reported no cases of antisemitism in 2019.
Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Cyprus only saw between one and three incidents of antisemitism during 2019.
In the report, the FRA made it clear that the overall numbers of antisemitic incidents in many EU countries show that “antisemitism remains a concern that needs to be tackled through concerted efforts by government and civil society at all levels.
“To tackle antisemitism effectively, relevant stakeholders need to be able to rely on robust data on antisemitic incidents to enable more efficient targeting of interventions,” the FRA said.
The report, the FRA said, also highlighted that there are large gaps in data collection and information “on antisemitism in the EU, that Member States collect different types of data and that they apply different definitions and recording practices when antisemitic incidents are recorded.”
They warned that this “prevents a meaningful comparison of officially collected data between Member States and increases the relevance of, and need for, surveys on perceptions and experiences of antisemitism among self-identified Jews, such as the surveys conducted by FRA.”
Although several countries had low numbers of recorded incidents, it is not always “a reliable indicator that antisemitism is not an issue of concern in these EU Member States.
“The evidence from FRA’s second survey on discrimination and hate crime against Jews shows that the overwhelming majority of the antisemitic incidents remain unreported, either to the police or any other authority, institution or organization,” the group stressed. “Likewise, it cannot be assumed that antisemitism is necessarily more of a problem in Member States where the highest numbers of incidents are recorded than in those where relatively few incidents are recorded.”
According to the FRA, the size of the Jewish population in any given Member State, as well as a number of other factors, also affect how many incidents are recorded, “including the willingness and ability of victims and witnesses to report such incidents and to trust that the authorities can deal with such incidents appropriately.
“Not only do victims and witnesses need to be encouraged to report antisemitic incidents, but the authorities need to have systems in place that enable the recording and comparison of such incidents,” it continued. “Policy actors at both EU and Member State levels need to share this commitment if antisemitism is to be countered effectively.”
The group also pointed out that antisemitic and intolerant attitudes can lead to behavior that is punishable by law, but antisemitism needs to be countered beyond the criminal justice system.
It also cited that the results of the FRA’s Fundamental Rights Survey, which provided clear evidence of the attitudes people in the EU have towards Jews.
“The results show that some people would not feel comfortable having a Jewish person as a neighbor or having someone from one’s family marry a Jew,” it said. “These results also show notable differences in attitudes between EU Member States.”
In its concluding remarks, the FRA emphasized that “education is essential to prevent intolerant attitudes.
“Through education that fosters socialization, tolerance and universal values, and encourages critical thinking, children and young people can bring change to their families and communities, and ultimately to the broader society,” it added.