A report from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published yesterday shows anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise in Europe. At the same time the agency warns that a lack of proper data and “gross under-reporting” make documenting the trend difficult.
Anti-Semitic incidents recorded in the report are described as “verbal and physical attacks, threats, harassment, property damage, graffiti or other forms of text, including on the internet.” As such they vary in severity from the acutal killings of Jewish people in Belgium, Denmark and France by Islamists, through the desecration of Jewish graves by far-right groups in the Netherlands, to general internet abuse.
The introduction explains a “lack of systematic data collection” results in the “gross underreporting of the nature and characteristics” of anti-Semitic incidents occuring in the European Union (EU). This makes it impossible to compare meaningfully levels of hate crime between EU states.
Indeed, the report notes that at the time of compilation there was no official data on reported anti-Semitic incidents available for Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta and Portugal. Nevertheless the recorded data from other countries is not encouraging.
In France the Commission Nationale Consultative Des Droits De L’Homme (CNCDH) compiles a detailed annual report on the fight against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia. It recorded 851 incidents in 2014 compared to 423 the year before. The rise in threats (as opposed to actions) is a discernible trend. 108 of the 851 incidents involved physical violence, compared to 49 the year before.
The highest incidence of anti-Semitic incidents in France in 2014 was recorded in July, coinciding with many anti-Israel manifestations – a total of 208 incidents compared to just 38 in July 2013.
In Germany, the criminal police notification service, politically motivated crimes division (Kriminalpolizeilicher Meldedienst – Politisch motivierte Kriminalität) collects official data on anti-Semitism. It noted 1,596 “crimes with an anti-Semitic motive” for 2015, compared to 1,275 in 2013.
Although the long term trend in Germany shows a decline in anti-Semitic incidents, 2014 was the highest year on record since 2010.
Belgian, Czech, and Dutch data also highlight sharp increases, reports EUobserver, and although the trend was less marked anti-Semitism is still on the rise in Austria, Denmark, Finland and Greece.
The report notes that anti-Semitism remains a phenomenon of “serious concern” demanding “decisive and targeted policy responses”. Addressing the issue would, according to the report, “not only afford Jewish communities better protection against antisemitism, but it would also give a clear signal that across the EU the fundamental rights of all people are protected and safeguarded.”
The FRA’s interim Director, Constantinos Manolopoulos, said:
“The attacks we have seen this year in France, Denmark and elsewhere in the EU are part of a climate of intolerance that we must fight with all the means at our disposal.
“There are many positive initiatives around the EU, but in the current situation this is not enough. The EU and its Member States need to take immediate and decisive action to combat extremist, xenophobic and antisemitic discourse and crimes.”