In Wake of Alarming Anti-Semitism Survey, B'nai B'rith Calls for Action from European Union Member States
(Washington, D.C., Dec. 10, 2018)—B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International is alarmed by the results of a survey tracking anti-Semitism that was released Monday by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). The survey, which covered the 13 member states with 95 percent of European Jewry, showed that 85 percent of Europe’s Jews believed anti-Semitism was the biggest social or political problem in their society. Another 38 percent said they had considered emigrating. While 30 percent said they had been harassed, 79 percent of those who had experienced anti-Semitic harassment in the past five years said they did not report the most serious anti-Semitic incidents to police. Many thought that alerting the authorities would be pointless.
Sadly, we are not shocked by the results of this survey. In just the past year, European Jews have suffered a number of anti-Semitic attacks. In France, where 95 percent of Jews said anti-Semitism was a fairly or very big problem, an 8-year-old boy was attacked on the street for wearing a yarmulke and an elderly Holocaust survivor was murdered in what was deemed an anti-Semitic hate crime. In Germany, an Israeli citizen of Arab descent wearing a yarmulke was beaten with a belt by a stranger for the “crime” of appearing visibly Jewish. In the United Kingdom in 2017, a different Jewish victim was targeted an average of four times a day.
However, we are encouraged by the actions taken by the European Union (EU) and the FRA to fight the scourge of anti-Semitism. This survey was an important step in documenting the harassment and abuse faced by European Jews. Last week, the Council of the European Union approved a declaration that called for widespread adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, championed Holocaust education and advocated for the development of a common security approach to fight anti-Semitism across the continent. Last month, the Austrian Presidency of the EU Council used its platform to hold a conference focused on anti-Semitism entitled, “Beyond Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism: Securing Jewish Life in Europe.”
Despite these important steps, the survey shows that there is still much work to be done. Seventy years after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism still looms large in Europe. EU Member States should confront the distressing results of this survey by implementing the measures laid out in the EU Council’s declaration and taking steps to combat Holocaust denial, anti-Zionism and violence against Jews.
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit www.bnaibrith.org