26th Oct 2016

EU report highlights anti-Semitism in France

  • Young Jewish men in Paris (Photo: nhojerp)

Some two-thirds of Jews living in France fear a verbal or physical assault in the next 12 months, according to a new EU survey.

Belgium is close behind in terms of numbers, followed, in descending order, by Hungary, Germany, Latvia, Italy, Sweden, and the UK.

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The findings, by the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) in Vienna, came out on Friday (8 November) in its first ever attempt to collect comparable data on anti-Semitism in Europe.

Its online survey contacted 5,847 Jewish people in the eight EU countries which are home to the largest Jewish communities.

The study says that 66 percent of Jews view anti-Semitism as a major problem.

Another 76 percent said it has become more acute in the past five years.

The FRA noted that poor data collection by member states and under-reporting means the true scale is likely higher.

It also said the Arab-Israeli conflict is an important factor in some countries.

Around 73 percent of respondents in France said the conflict had a large impact on how safe they felt.

The figure drops to 28 percent in Germany and to 8 percent in Latvia.

For his part, Daniel Schwammenthal, the Brussels chief of US-based lobby group, the American Jewish Committee, told EUobserver that criticism of Israel sometimes masks classic anti-Semitism.

“I’m not talking about legitimate criticism or even unfair criticism of Israel but of demonisation, of comparing Israelis to Nazis,” he said.

“You need to be able to criticise Israel, but there is a difference between bigotry and criticism," he added.

He also noted that the vast majority of all racist attacks in France are committed against Jews, even though there are only around 500,000 Jewish people in France.

FRA Director Morten Kjaerum said the survey shows how ancient prejudice adapts to new times.

“It is particularly distressing to see that the internet, which should be a tool for communication and dialogue, is being used as an instrument of anti-Semitic harassment,” he said in a statement.

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