TEL AVIV – Forty-four percent of young Europeans Jews have been the victim of an antisemitic incident in the past year and almost half of them choose not to wear items of clothing identified with Judaism out of fear for their safety, a new European Union report found.
More than half the 16-34-year-olds surveyed were students. Eighty-five percent said that as Jews they are blamed for the actions of the Israeli government at least occasionally, while a quarter said it happens “all the time.”
With 16,000 young Jews surveyed from 12 EU member states, this is the largest poll of its kind.
The poll noted that those surveyed were a “well-educated group, with strong roots in Europe and strong attachments to the countries in which they live.”
Despite that, the poll noted, “four in five believe antisemitism to be a problem in their countries, and the same proportion believes the problem to have deteriorated in recent years.”
In a foreword to the report, Director of the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) Michael O’Flaherty called the results “deeply troubling.”
“These findings make for grim reading,” O’Flaherty writes. “We must fight antisemitism by tackling it at its roots, no matter how difficult that is.”
The percentage of all Jews suffering antisemitism was “strikingly high,” the report said, however “young people are clearly the most vulnerable group.”
Eighty percent of victims of antisemitic harassment and 51% of victims of antisemitic violence did not report it to local authorities.
Across the three age groups surveyed, antisemitism was perpetrated most often by “someone with a Muslim extremist view.”
Twenty-one percent identified the perpetrator as “someone with a left-wing political view,” and 14% pointed to “someone with a right-wing political view.”
Many of the incidents were perpetrated by a “teenager or group of teenagers,” or a “colleague from work or school/college,” the report said, noting that this raises a question about the extent to which this is happening within the university sector.
“Existing evidence shows that Jewish university students — especially those involved in some way in student politics — are known to be particularly susceptible to antisemitic harassment from their fellow students, often expressed in the form of anti-Israel discourse,” the report said.
“Such highly politicized university environments, often fueled by a staunchly leftist political agenda, can feel acutely uncomfortable, and indeed antisemitic, for many of them,” it adds.
Thirty-seven percent of young European Jews say that the Israeli-Arab conflict affects their feeling of safety in their own country “a great deal,” while one in ten say it has no effect.
Eighty-one percent of young Jews said antisemitism is a problem in their country, with 83% saying the problem has been on the rise over the past five years.
“The Jewish population of Europe has been in a state of decline for a century and a half now, and leaders working at the European, national and local levels have a fundamental responsibility to construct a social and political context in which Jews, and indeed all minorities, feel safe,” the report’s author Dr. Jonathan Boyd said. “For all the efforts many good people are making on all of these levels, these data suggest that much more still needs to be done.”