Friday, February 15, 2019

Anti-Semitism on the Rise in Europe

Antisemitism is rising sharply across Europe, experts have said, as France reported a 74% increase in the number of offences against Jews last year and Germany said the number of violent antisemitic attacks had surged by more than 60%.

France’s interior ministry said this week that recorded incidents of antisemitism rose to 541 last year from 311 in 2017, while the German government said offences motivated by hatred of Jews hit a 10-year high of 1,646 in 2018. Physical attacks rose from 37 to 62, leaving 43 people needing medical treatment.

In the largest ever survey of Jewish antisemitism opinion, addressing more than 16,000 Jewish people in 12 European countries, the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency said at the end of last year that antisemitic hate speech, harassment and an increasing fear of being recognised as Jewish were becoming the new normal.

“Decades after the Holocaust, shocking and mounting levels of antisemitism continue to plague the EU,” the FRA director, Michael O’Flaherty, said. “Jewish people have a right to live freely, without hate and without fear for their safety.”
In the past two decades, antisemitic attacks in Europe have generally peaked in line with tensions in the Middle East. “They were essentially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, imported,” said Marc Knobel, a historian at the Crif umbrella group for France’s Jewish organisations. “Rather than attacking Israelis, people went for Jews.”
But since early last year, said Frédéric Potier of the French government’s anti-racism and antisemitism body Dilcrah, more traditional forms of antisemitism have re-emerged. “We are witnessing the resurgence of a virulent, far-right identity politics that does not hesitate to put its beliefs into action,” Potier told Le Monde.
Experts describe a “perfect storm” for antisemitic attacks combining the increasing influence of far-right groups and governments; the rise of conspiracy theories about a supposed global Zionist plot (and the scale on which they circulate on social media); and a general increase in the violence of public discourse.
A recent poll suggested nearly half of yellow vest protesters believed in a “Zionist plot”.
In Germany the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party has been widely accused of fomenting hate against refugees, Muslims and Jews. The party’s co-leader, Alexander Gauland, described the Holocaust as a “small bird dropping in over 1,000 years of successful German history”, while another senior AfD politician, Björn Höcke, called the Holocaust memorial in Berlin a “monument of shame”. A large influx of mostly Muslim refugees and migrants to Germany from 2015 has also led to a rise in antisemitic attacks by migrants from Arab states, although figures show an overwhelming majority of violence against Jews is perpetrated by far-right supporters. “Militant rightwing extremists are now openly calling for the desecration of Jewish institutions and attacks against Jewish people,” Pau said.
Hungary’s far-right Fidesz party, led by prime minister Viktor Orbán, has run vitriolic campaigns against migrants and demonising George Soros, the Hungarian-born Jewish financier. In CNN’s recent survey, 42% of Hungarians polled said they thought Jews held too much sway over the worlds of finance and international affairs.

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